Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Why isn't there a White Lives Matter campaign, Straight Pride Parade, or ableist movement?

*Please note that the following material was not edited. I tried to give credit throughout if and where there was outside information, but I did not include links. It is loosely cited in-text, but since this is a blog I didn't include actual MLA citations. If I start to get questions or requests about the information I will edit and properly cite in-text and provide a Works Cited list. 

Why do #Blacklivesmatter more than White? Why not #straightpride? Why isn't there an ablity awareness? Why isn't there a White history month? Or a Mens history month? Why doesn't {insert topic here} get recongnized? 

I see similar questions every day. I used to wonder about the first one until some things were pointed out to me. Things that I never thought of. Do you know the difference between prejudice and racism? Prejudice has no power. There is very little Black to White racism. When was the last time a White person didn't achieve something because he or she was White? You probably cannot name a time. Does that mean that Black to White prejudice doesn't exist? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of unfair stereotypes that Blacks hold against Whites as a society. This does not at all mean that all Blacks hold these stereotypes nor does it mean that we are injured as a population. My friend Ellen shared a video one day explaining just this. I had never thought about it. (Ellen if you are reading this, I would love to have the link to the video to share).

Let's start with how the two are defined. If you enter "racism" in to Google, it will be defined as: the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior. Historically White society has taken this notion to place restrictions on the "lesser" race. Prejudice, however, is listed as preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. Maybe the difference in definition is the difference in the way words are perceived. For example, some prejudices may not be harmful to anyone. One prejudice (based upon this definition) may be that all Southerners love Sweet Tea. Even if it isn't true (and it's not- I don't love sweet tea, but I can drink it) there isn't anything harmful. It just is or isn't true. Racism can have definite consequences.

So, what does this mean for the #BlackLivesMatter crowd? Well, racism is definitely still alive and thriving in the US. For this reason, many people of color (Black, Asian, Hispanic, non-Caucasian) feel that they have a target on their backs- and for good reason. Let's look at some statistics.  Blacks make up 13% of the population of the US but 40% of the prison population (Sakala- Prisonpolicy.org). Also, the incidence of White (only White) people living in poverty is roughly 12% overall, but for the Black population (Black only) is 26% (Census.gov). In addition, 57% of the US prison population is living with a median income below $22,500 (prisonpolicy.org). So, if you are a poor Black man living in the US you are more likely to wind up in prison than your White counterpart. To offer a little anecdotal evidence, I have worked as a teacher to prison inmates. Because I knew their first and last names I could look up their crimes/ sentences/ "rap sheet" online (and you can too if you know an inmate). I could look up White prisoners and Black prisoners with similar past convictions as well as current conviction and 99% of the time the White prisoner had a shorter/ lighter sentence. The system seems to be stacked against the Black inmate. The overwhelming majority of crimes that are falsely reported have a black suspect. What about the mistaken identity? Darryl Hunt spent how long in prison for a crime he didn't commit? This is not a new song. How often do we hear of this from other races? It's rare.

In many of the impoverished neighborhoods suspects are considered armed until proven otherwise. I thought our country was founded on principles like innocent until proven guilty. How often do you watch the news and assume guilt because the news shows a mugshot of a suspect? How many people thought Darryl Hunt or Ronald Cotton was guilty? These guys feel like there is a target because there is a major prejudice problem that leads to racism. We don't have to take care of those people because they aren't like us. I really don't know how we got to this point. I mean since the end of Slavery in the US, how many opportunities have been afforded people of color. Until the 1960's Civil Rights Movement they weren't even allowed to sit next to us (White) folks. In the 40's we put the Japanese in internment camps. I suppose we should do the same to Muslims. Mohammad did not preach anger and hate, but did teach love and harmony. He would not be happy with the Taliban, Al Queda, or ISIL. Do you really think God was happy with the Crusades? Have Christians not done bad in God's name. Westboro Baptist acts in the name of God, but clearly doesn't act on true Christian principles.

Christians aren't under attack here. I am a Christian. Whether or not I am a Christian has no bearing on whether or not I am a good person. Perfectly good people practice non-Christian religions, or no religion at all. This brings me to the second group, the LGBTQ crowd. Now, I am not going to debate whether or not it is a sin to have any sexual orientation other than heterosexual, but, I am going to argue that it isn't my place to police how one practices Christianity. There is a thin guise of religion for not wanting same sex couples to marry. I say a thin guise because I don't hear any outrage that heterosexual atheists want to marry. Under the law any heterosexual couple can marry at any time as long as no bigamy has occurred and as long as both parties are consenting adults. Nowhere under the law does it say that the Christian church must perform the ceremony. I do not believe that we should police churches this way. Let the church decide. That said, let consenting adults of sound mind decide whom they marry. I actually don't care if Bill wants 27 wives. If all 28 people are in agreement, it's not my place to tell them they can't. Due to this public outrage over whom we may marry or not marry the LGBTQ community has been targeted for many reasons. No "straight" couple has been denied service or rights for being "straight". I personally don't see how it affects anything. The government sees marriage as a contract, not a religious document. In that case let them marry. Fine, don't recognize their union in the Church. Whatever, but don't tell them they cannot enter into a legally binding contract. There doesn't need to be straight pride because there is no straight discrimination. When is the last time a straight person was denied a job for being heterosexual? I actually hate the term straight... it implies that homosexuality is crooked. Maybe your interpretation of the Bible says it's a sin, but it has a weird denotation for me. While the country is so busy trying to police sin involving love there are mass killings almost daily it seems. Maybe we should practice more love and not focus on the separation. Heterosexuality is accepted and celebrated every day. Gay Pride shouldn't need to be a thing. We should celebrate everyone. Not just those who look like us and act like us. According to GLAD, fewer than 1/3 of states have legislation protecting the rights of LGBTQ people and no federal laws. So discrimination is legal as long as it has to do with sexual orientation? NO! This should never be okay. We should protect the rights of all. Not just those who fit into our own box.

If we should celebrate everyone, why don't we get a White history/ men's history/ {insert majority} history month? Each month in schools across the nation we are taught American history from the White perspective. Native Americans and African Americans have far different accounts of how events in history happened. These groups are marginalized in text books and in classrooms all year long. So, schools spend February discussing Black History, generally November discussing very little Native American History, March discussing Women's History, and the first week in May they might mention Hispanic Heritage. You have the rest of the year. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. We still leave out many marginalized groups including the disabled students and adults. According to Diversity Central almost every month has a theme. Did you know that May isn't even Hispanic Heritage month? It's September. We never discussed Hispanic Heritage in September when I was in school. Of course we tried to ignore the disabled kids altogether.

The disabled community is mocked, laughed at, belittled, and pushed aside. People make snap judgements on who should have a handicapped placard, where disabled people should work, what types of services should be allowed, and even what kinds of decisions they can make for themselves. There isn't an ableism movement because you are ABLE to make all of these decisions yourself. I get so tired of seeing headlines like "Model with Down Syndrome to Participate in Fashion Week" or "Man in Wheelchair Starts His Own Business" or "Insert Disability Here Does Everyday task here." Why can't we celebrate the man for being a savvy business man, why does his wheelchair matter? Or her chromosome status? We wouldn't need disability awareness if so many people were not aware that people with disabilities can actually thrive. According to the Department of Labor only about 1/3 of adults with a disability were employed in 2012. 1/3! Some people with a disability don't want to work or can't, but some people without a disability don't want to work! It is ridiculous to think that these people aren't capable. Yes, it may take more time to train, but many employers have stated that these are the most loyal employees. I am ashamed at the US for not employing more people with disabilities.

Straight White men over the age of 40 aren't being discriminated against and targeted. We don't need to celebrate you because you already hold the world in the palm of your hands. When we start valuing all lives simply for being human we won't need Pride week, #BlackLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter, disability awareness, or a women's movement.

I have not covered #BlueLivesMatter until now. Blue lives do matter. No one should be targeted because of their profession. These police officers are sworn to serve and protect. Most of the time they try to do just that. There are some terrible cops in this world, because cops are human and there are some terrible humans. There are some amazing cops for the same reason: good people do become cops. The Black community is tired of being targeted, but some of them are fighting back with violence rather than communication. I cannot blame the Black community for being angry with cops that target them for being Black. Driving while Black is a thing. People really are stopped for being Black in the wrong place. Maybe cops are making mistakes based upon their previous experiences, but they shouldn't be killed for another's mistake. Being a cop is dangerous. No one should have to give their life because someone assumes they are dirty/ bad/ crooked. I have met some cops who were real assholes and due to this I am extremely cautious around cops. They frustrate me and make me nervous. No, I don't think they are all this way, but I don't know when I am going to meet one who is bad. I also don't think all cops should die because some cops are asses. No cop should be targeted for the uniform he puts on in the morning. Vietnam Veterans shouldn't have been targeted in the 60s and 70s. No one should be targeted for an arbitrary reason. Got a beef with a cop? Take it up with that cop or his boss. Push the issue. Demand better treatment by cops. Demand better training. Don't kill 10 cops because 1 is a jackass.

I didn't cover mental health issues because there is not yet a solid movement to help them. We currently don't seem to care.

Maybe we need one final movement. One to end all other movements. One that breaks down barriers and lifts up our fellow humans. A movement that doesn't preclude Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, Pride, or Disabilities. We need a movement that recognizes that the Black community, LGBTQ community, Police officers, and disabled Americans deserve better. Your life matters whether you are Gay, Straight, Black, White, Brown, Disabled, Able Bodied, a Police officer, or a homemaker. All life does matter. Lift EVERY voice. Lift Every Voice. Someone come up with a hashtag if you want. Start a movement. Love your neighbors.