When I walked into the school lunch room to find my Lunch Buddy, I was met by one of his classmates – a girl – 4th grade. She gave me a hug, stepped back, and with her hands on her hips, said,
“Phillip, I broke up with my boyfriend!”
“Oh?” I replied. “How do you feel about that?”
“I had to do it,” she explained.
“And why is that?” I inquired.
“He disrespected me. He told me I couldn’t run as fast as him. So we raced and I beat him.”
“Good for you!!” I congratulated her.
“Thanks!” She said, before adding this clincher:
“I told him, ‘Never underestimate me!’ Then I broke up with him.”
We’ve seen over the last several months hundreds of women stand up and shout out, “He disrespected me! Never underestimate me.”
Maya Angelou wrote, “Each time a woman stands up for herself without knowing it, possibly without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”
My 4th grade friend stood up for all the girls at her school. Standing up and speaking out sent a message to all the boys in the school to get rid of the stereotypes, to treat the girls as equals. She gave me hope that her generation will be better than previous generations.
That mutual respect will replace disrespect.
That there will be “justice for all.”
Kyle Stephens was the first gymnast to confront Larry Nassar at his sentencing. He was a family friend. He began sexually assaulting her when she was in kindergarten. I can’t bring myself to describe what he did to her and in front of her. Her parents did not believe her when she told them what was happening. She said she replayed the abuse “so I didn’t forget that I was not a liar.” She was forced to babysit Nassar’s kids to pay for her own counseling. Years later, in 2016, Kyle’s dad committed suicide after coming to believe his daughter.
Kyle Stephens’ words reverberate throughout the country: “Little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”
Little girls and grown women bear within themselves the divine image. A spirit of strength.
Let’s join girls like my Lunch Buddy’s classmate and women like Ms Stephens to destroy an old world of disrespect and injustice and build a world of love.