My strength as a woman is inspired by cabbage and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Walking into the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative warehouse this past June, I was eager to start my new job as a wholesale packer, unaware that I would be one of only two women hired to use skid loaders, lift boxes and load trucks for the summer.
I was hesitant, but my Enneagram three-wing-four-ness, otherwise known as someone hungry for achieving the unexpected, pushed me to show up and do the work.
Though I soon observed myself apologizing way too much.
I apologized when I stacked the boxes on the skid incorrectly, when I moved slower than others, when I had a question.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“For being a woman?” I thought.
But change in our nation has never come when women apologize – for feeling less than, for standing in the way, for being biologically different, for desiring to be equal.
No, change has always come when respect, not politeness, demands justice.
And no one was a better model of that than Ruther Bader Ginsburg.
Ginsburg, a pioneering advocate for women’s rights, died last Friday, ending her career as the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
She was small, barely five feet tall, and only 100 pounds, but she was tough.
I imagine she would throw around heavy boxes of cabbage with force.
Because of RBG, women like myself have the right to sign a mortgage without a man, to open a bank account without a male co-signer, to demand a job absent of gender-based discrimination, and to be pregnant while continuing to work.
I still remember one day back in the warehouse, my female co-worker, Maggie, came up to me.
“Will you help me lift these boxes,” she said. “I know if I ask one of the men, they will just end up doing it for me.”
So we lifted one, five, 10, 20 of those 60-pound boxes of cabbages up onto the skid together, just us, two women.
“This way, we will both get stronger,” she said.
And I was empowered. Before, I would have accepted defeat and asked one of my male co-workers for assistance, quickly assuming they were stronger.
But Maggie taught me that though I could not lift these boxes by myself now, someday I would be able to.
The legacy of Notorious RBG is one that inspires us to trust our strength, to grow in courage from cabbage warehouses to the streets all the way to the Senate.
As congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Ortez reminds us: “Opponents of democracy need your resignation to succeed. Don’t give it to them.”
So lift those cabbages, march in protest and when the time comes, vote. Vote for ongoing change, and tell them Ruth Bader Ginsburg sent you.