Take Off the Mask

I’ll never forget being welcomed home to the sight of his sniffling, crocodile-teared face plastered all over CNN, NBC, and every news channel possible. It was a scene all too familiar, and once again the cliché phrase of “history repeating itself” proved to be true. They did it to Anita Hill, and now they were doing it to Christine Blasey Ford. The hearing of Brett Kavanaugh evidenced once again the toxic masculinity our society justifies.

Anyone could easily have seen Christine Blasey Ford’s pain and fear as she gave her gut-wrenching testimony. Yet the Republican-majority Congress refused to accept her accusations against Kavanaugh, somewhat suggesting to the nation that you may speak, you may protest, you may even riot, but at the end of the day, we will do only what is best to move our party forward. 

How can we promote gender equality if the government under which we live continues to rule as a patriarchy? We are the free world and our government silenced not only Ford, but all victims of sexual assault. Whatever happened to rule of law?

Politics—though fascinating and something about which I’m passionate—have left a bitter taste in my mouth. I will never forget all the stains the current administration has  left on the U.S. or the political turmoil caused by the government we’re told to trust.

I understood that the 2018 midterms would be one of the most important elections in the history of Congress. For these reasons, I took to my own community and got a job campaigning for the Democrats in my town. 

At 6:30 in the morning, I prepared myself for a fifteen-hour shift. I was assigned to campaign in my town’s downtown district—notorious for being a Republican-swaying sector. I didn’t expect much of the job—surely it would turn out to be a day like any other.  

The pitter-patter of the rain was a symphony as I stood under a baby tree, drenched in rain, holding a sign that promised democracy and prosperity to New Jersey from the Democrats. Even with the raindrops covering it, the blue, white, and red of the sign only accentuated the names on the board. The Democrats were in need of a midterm election victory and every person, every vote, every town counted towards victory. 

As I stood on the corner of the block, waiting for people to pass by me, I realized they were purposefully avoiding me. I received many looks of dismay, and some of disgust. “How could you stand there, promoting corruption?” They asked. New Jersey is one of many liberal states, yet because much of the population supported Trump in 2016, my small town has experienced a great divide. I did what I could to promote unity, kindness, and peace even in this era of new politics. At that moment, I realized how severe the political rift was and just how important it is for all generations to use their vote. 

Scandal after scandal and yet somehow, it’s 2018 and we still fight for what we had to centuries ago. My generation, now on the verge of adulthood, though, has proven that we will not stand for this. I had never understood the power of the individual’s voice, never realized how important it was to pay attention, to fight for what’s ours, and speak for those who can’t. But the social and political circumstances have forced me, have forced us all, to grow up. And they’ve also made me braver; I am no longer afraid to speak my mind, to use my voice for the greater good, to help others in the face of hard times. The world is changing, but one thing will stay the same: my generation’s unwillingness to sit quietly.

By Melissa Ouhocine

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