"I know unfairness when I see it. I don't have to think about it. I don't have to analyze it. I don't have to ask somebody if it's real. I know it, I feel it, and resent it."
California democratic representative Maxine Waters leveled up on the national radar after Fox network's then-talking head Bill O'Reilly made a derogatory comment about her hair during a taped House speech. In response, Maxine said, “Let me just say this: I'm a strong black woman and I cannot be intimidated. I cannot be undermined. I cannot be thought to be afraid of Bill O'Reilly or anybody.” Of course the internet went nuts, and she became a household name in political and civil rights discussions.
“I'd like to say to women out there everywhere: Don't allow these right-wing talking heads, these dishonorable people, to intimidate you or scare you. Be who you are. Do what you do. And let us get on with discussing the real issues of this country.”
"Reclaiming my time" has also become synonymous with criticism of bullying political and social behavior, originating when the treasury secretary avoided Waters' direct questioning about the financial ties between Trump and Russia. Instead, he attempted to distract with flattery and run out the clock on her questioning (which is a real thing they can do according to the rules of the house of representatives). Anytime he ignored the question, Maxine stated "reclaiming my time," invoking the actual term needed for members to continue questioning if they feel they aren't being answered appropriately.
Her steadfast candor continues to prove she's a formidable politician, political critic, and community advocate (co-founder of Black Women's Forum and Community Build, and the name sake of the Maxine Waters Preparation Center in Watts, CA). Her 40+ year legacy is only getting stronger as a new generation of people pursue activism. And her work seems to be marked with genuine sincerity, heard for example on the podcast On 1 with A. Rye. Maxine states:
"What is fair? What is honesty? What is integrity? Am I the kind of person that can go to sleep at night and say I did something good today? Or, I pushed back on those who were trying to take advantage of the most vulnerable our society? Or, am I the one who is trying to rip off people myself? Who are you? And I think, philosophically, when one comes to grips with their values, I think you can do whatever you need to do. And for me, I know unfairness when I see it. I don't have to think about it. I don't have to analyze it. I don't have to ask somebody if it's real. I know it, I feel it, and resent it."