Just a Woman?

By Maya Angelou

Excerpt from: And Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

And still I rise.

    In honor of a great poet

“On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks a 42 year old African-American woman who worked as a seamstress, boarded the Montgomery City bus to go home from work. On this bus on that day; Rosa Parks initiated a new era in the American quest for freedom and equality. What did she do that was so extraordinary? I think she did not set out to be named in a civil rights movement though she was a member of the NAACP.  I believe on this day she was tired, damned tired after working all day, and simply refused to give up a refuge she had found, namely a seat to sit in. She was arrested that day. And through that one simple act of defiance set a spark in motion with Martin Luther King’s movement to initiate a boycott of the Montgomery City Bus System. They were then able to desegregate the Montgomery, Alabama City buses.

I do not think Ms. Parks wanted limelight or public attention. I think she simply wanted to sit anywhere she wanted to. The first available seat, for a hard-working woman with tired feet. She was one of many in the Civil Rights’ movement who found some small seed of courage to defy a system of intolerance and cruelty. Where did she find that courage? I could give you a list of brave women who have cooked too many meals to count, raised babies, cleaned house, and then went out to do another job, working round the clock 24/7. What makes someone finally want something different?

Oprah Winfrey came from a family of poverty, a family of cotton-pickers in the rural South. What made her rise up and want a different life? Who, or what or why did she think there was something more out there for her? I remember reading in one of her bio stories, that she saw the life she was raised in, but always knew, like a sense of inner-knowing or intuition that she was going to be so much more one day.

How did she know, and what gave her the courage to rise up, put herself through school, and keep trying when so few women in the 60’s did? I believe there is a God-spark in all of us waiting to manifest itself into the highest imagining. I believe we don’t have to settle for less. I believe women who follow their hearts, and their inner calling are hero’s we need more of today. There comes a day when you find that determination to push back just a bit at first against the oppressor or the injustice.

I myself a woman who by worldly standards has not found merits of worldly degrees or accomplishments have continually prevailed when many thought I had failed. What spurred me on? What gave me that determination to counter all odds and not give up, not give in, but to keep on pressing for equality in my person, my sex, and my relationships, and my work-life? When someone would ask what I did, I would meekly say I am just a mother. Just a housewife, or just a mental health worker. I asked a woman just yesterday as I shopped in a beautiful mystical shop, “Are you the owner?”

“No, I am just a worker.” “I just work here she said. No one special.”

I countered that statement.”  I believe you are more than just a worker. I believe you are someone special.”

I was once told by a medium that I am like the person that has nine lives. I keep coming back. When it looks as though I’m down for the count, I come back full-swing rising to new heights. So I believe anything is possible. Because I myself have suffered many painful losses, indignities, and inequality at its best, and kept bouncing back to full speed. You can too. But it takes a wicked determination to beat low-self-esteem, and listening to your dream. You can give me every excuse in the book of why it’s not possible to go where you want to, whether it is to step out of a bad marriage, or to find a better paying job, stand up for yourself when someone verbally beats you down. Excuses don’t drive the engine that pull you forward. Courage does. Be willing to map out that treasure, and write down the steps needed and find that Starting place.

So who will you listen to? Where will you find the courage to stand alone when no one supports your choices? Are you willing to listen to that inner knowing like Oprah Winfrey and Rosa Parks, and Maya Angelou found? Or are you waiting for someone to give you permission to take the next step, make the next phone call?   Are you sitting back comparing yourself to others who have got it going on, but feel like you could never be one of them? Why? And isn’t about time that you stepped up, stepped out of your comfort zone? Whether it’s sitting where you want, or finding your voice to perform, act, write, paint, or go back to school. I believe you can do it! I believe the spark of God is with you, in youurging you on.

“And still I rise!”