Moving Past Racial Programming
As a white Woman from the South, I cannot begin to understand what it feels like to be a Minority, a member of the LGBTQ Community, a Muslim, or an Immigrant.. The hurdles and setbacks that these groups face are often times immeasurable... I cannot ever know firsthand how these setbacks and hurdles feel.. But, what I do know, is how it feels to love these people, and hurt for them. I know what it feels like to hear members of my own family use racial slurs, and impose stereotypes on these people. I know what it is like to be told that I am no longer welcome in my own family, because of who I choose to love, and support. Because, I choose to stand up for who I love, and will not let them be defamed, or discriminated against. I know what it feels like to be forced to hide the identity of those I love, at a young age, for fear I will be cast out of my family. And, for as far back as I can remember, I knew that these close minded, racist beliefs were wrong, and not something I ever felt or wanted to be aligned with.
I’ve spent my entire life loving people that were seen as different, or "less than", according to a large part of my family, and sadly now, those currently running our Country. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I decided to stand up against my close minded, bigoted family members, and let them know that this language and behavior would NO longer be tolerated. That, this was who I was, and I would no longer hide who I loved and supported. That, we are ALL equal, and this hateful speech they were using, was not acceptable, and, that I would no longer sit quietly by, listening to it.
After I was finally able to stand up to own my family, and use my voice, I continued to fight for those I loved, defending their rights as Humans, every chance I was given.. So, now that these basic Human Rights are in great danger, I find myself fighting harder than ever.. But, some days the fight feels almost too overwhelming to keep going.. It is during those times I'm reminded that these people being discriminated against don't get the luxury of NOT fighting.. They don't get to say, "I'm too drained or depleted".. It is a part of each and every day for them. To wake up in the skin they were born in, with the sexual identity they were born with, and the religious beliefs they hold dear.. This is a part of who they are, and is repeatedly used to "define" them.. But, these facts do NOT define the many layers of who they are. These facts make no mention of their beautiful Hearts and Souls, or of their amazingly creative and intelligent minds. Nor do they mention the morals and beliefs that they hold dear, and stand up for, no matter what.. The white men in office will continue to use basic "labels" to break these people down, but it won't work.. Because, long before the ugly politics of our country were in OUR faces, the injustices THEY faced were a part of their daily life. We are ALL finally getting a sense of the opposition, and bigotry they face each and every day. This helpless feeling is awful, but it needs to be felt..
We need to pay attention, and listen to this now. Do NOT turn away, because it's uncomfortable or painful.. Avoidance is not something that these people have the luxury of choosing. They continue to live these truths each day.. And, the only thing those of us with white privilege can do to help, is to LISTEN, and truly HEAR, all that they have to go through, and all that they have gone through. And, if need be, to FIGHT for them, to defend their basic Human Rights... We are all ONE RACE.. The HUMAN Race.. And, as long as we don't let ourselves forget that, I feel like we can pull through this stronger, and more united than ever.. This is a lesson I learned early on in my life, led by the examples of what NOT to do, and how NOT to act. This is why I felt it was important to share my own experience of overcoming bigotry. Because, even though we may be a product of our environment, and upbringing. Each one of us must be accountable for the decisions we make, and the actions we take as we become adults. We each have the power to change those stories. To rewrite ourselves, by choosing to do what’s right, and just. Each and every one of us have the power to choose LOVE over hate. To SEE and HEAR one another, as equal. We each have the power to create UNITY... And, to create a better world for our children. A world where we can see our differences as beautiful, and not as something to fear...