WASHINGTON DC — “I broke down in Congress slump against the hallway / I can hear my sobs bouncing off the high ceiling / is this business as usual? / Working for Congress is like always being in crisis mode…”
That’s spoken word artist Louie Tan Vital putting into words her emotions, just one month into her paid internship as staff assistant for the 115th US Congress.
Her now-famous breakdown immortalized on a Facebook post that has gone viral.
“I did not expect it to become viral, it was more me just admitting my defeat in this space, and in this time, kind of just, you know, I need help,” Vital shared.
Through her post, the world got a peek into her experience working at the Capitol.
As a Congressional staff assistant, Vital says she’s at the front line, answering calls and emails — including hate mail and angry calls for her boss, a Washington state Congressman.
“So they take it out on me, because I’m working on behalf of the congressman,” she said. “I think people really underestimate me here, so that’s one thing I have definitely learned — because I’m small, because I’m a woman, because I’m Asian and no one here looks like me, I have to work ten times as hard.”
The 22-year-old political science graduate from the University of Washington says she felt and absorbed their pain.
“I just kinda broke, I tried not to let it faze me, but I can’t — I feel too much and feeling too much is the reason I’m here… I’m crying because I feel for everyone that’s here, and everyone that’s being affected by this divided racial climate.”
For a moment, the Hawaii-born and Seattle, Washington-raised Pinay thought of giving up and stay away from politics.
“I turned that around, I have to be here,” she said. “My parents did not immigrate here for me to give up, I have to stay here.”
Her internship in congress ends in August, and she will head back to school for a master’s in public administration at the University of Washington to realize a dream — solidified by this empowering experience in Washington DC — to eventually break the glass ceiling.
But first, she dreams of running for Congress.
“I will run for my ancestors, for my kababayans, and I will run for this country that is rightfully ours / next time you call, you will hold your breath as I answer, this is Representative Vital, how can I help you? / And when that day arrives / that people look like me walk these hallways of Congress / I will smooth my skirt and I would think yes, this / this is business as usual…”