Every time Mike Pence interrupted Kamala Harris during Wednesday's vice presidential debate, I felt a familiar cringe as I remembered too many college classes and conversations where I'd felt similarly cut-off or spoken over. But in these times of interference, Harris did what I never could — she shut it down with the simplest of words, "I'm speaking."
Harris, a seasoned former prosecutor and current California senator, is all too familiar with manteruptions. Despite Pence's attempts to steer the conversation or discredit her arguments before they were finished, Harris would address his intrusion, pause, and move forward with her answer. His interruptions did not cease, and with continued patience, Harris reminded Pence, "I'm still speaking."
Those who identify as women immediately resonated with Harris's response. The feeling of being talked down to, ignored, pushed aside, sadly becomes a learned experience from childhood to adulthood. Women are expected to play nice or to make themselves smaller, whether that be in a classroom, a workplace, or even at home. And as many Black women were quick to point out, these kinds of interruptions by white men are particularly egregious when levelled against them.
It's incredibly frustrating to see Harris, a historic nominee, continue to face disrespect. On the other hand, it's incredibly empowering to see her call-out that disrespect without hesitation and demand what she deserves. Thank you, Sen. Harris, for setting an example for future generations. Here's to speaking up a little more and a little louder.