Every day when I check my social media accounts I prepare to read or see something heartbreaking. It’s a sad truth that these events we are seeing are not uncommon. This is our reality right now. The events that have gone on in Virginia with the protests, and then counter protests are horrific to say the least. I fear for people that are even remotely different, I truly do. I’m scared for my friends that have different skin colors, that speak different languages, that are part of the LGTBQ+ community. I am scared because we are at a point where people no longer care about hiding their prejudices, they no longer feel as though they have to get with the times. No longer is there a need for masks, hoods, or gowns. These people have no fear of being held accountable, because they aren’t being held accountable.
When I walk out my door I think about what I would do if someone were to approach me and saying something racist. If they were to push me, scream at me, or spit on me. I used to not be afraid of these things but here I am, in 2017, afraid of things that were apparent in the 1950’s. Have we not grown past that? Do people still believe there is a “superior race”?
Racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and everything that comes along with these things are not new. They may have been hidden for a while, but they are not new.
Growing up in a town where the majority of the people were white and decently conservative, I always had to be the bigger person. I had to walk away when a boy in middle school thought it would be funny to scream nigger down the hall at me. I had to keep my head down when my honors English class read “Black Boy” and “How to Kill a Mockingbird” to avoid the stares as my teacher would read aloud the word nigger. I had to stay quiet when someone said they didn’t find hanging nooses a problem. I had to accept the apology from one of my 14’s teammate’s who called me a nigger because I played over her. Can you imagine what it must be like for the people that had ancestors in a concentration camp and are now seeing hoards of people using the swastika like it’s nothing?
Why is it that people who are being oppressed or beaten down must always be the bigger person? Why is it my job to walk away, to be silent, to accept that apology?
So how would I react now if I was faced with someone threatening me? I used to think the best way to react was to give them nothing at all. That’s what parents always tell you as a way to handle bullies in school right? Give them no reaction and they’ll eventually go away right? However, we are not dealing with children. We are dealing with adults who are malicious, willfully ignorant, and dangerous. I don’t know what I would do if someone approached me with hate spilling from their mouth, but I surely will not be silent. I will speak up, not only for myself but for those around me.
To the people that haven’t faced anything like this before, you don’t get a good job for sticking up for those that are being attacked, because that is what you’re supposed to do. You will not get a congratulations sticker for being a decent human being. How sad is it that are standards for humans and their compassion is set so incredibly low? If you’re able to not pay attention to the horrible events going on then that is because you don’t think it could impact you, and that in itself is privilege. To be clear, if you don’t speak up for the lack of leadership within our government, if you don’t say how disappointed and disgusted you are in the way people are being treated, you are just as bad as them.
I feel as though I could write essays upon essays about this but really, the main point is that regardless of what you label yourself, I hope you find the courage to stand up for the people around you and the world you want to continue living in. I hope you don’t cower in fear because of disgusting human beings, I hope you hold people accountable for their actions, and I hope you find your voice and stand up for the people around you. It is not the job of those being hurt to stay silent and take it, it’s the job of every single person with a working brain to stand up for what’s right.