This We Believe

Separated by Differences, United by Beliefs

I Have the Right to Care

on February 23, 2014

I grew up knowing that discrimination happened.  I was too naïve to recognize it happening to me and those around me, but, like all kids, I heard about it.  It was on the news; stories about distant cities and countries.  It was in the history books; stories about Dr. King and Susan B. Anthony, the great vanquishers of evil discrimination and heroes of rights.  In other words, everything I knew about discrimination came with the words “long ago and far, far away.”  It didn’t happen to little girls and boys in middle class Milwaukee schools

Well…that’s how we were trained to think about it anyway.

As my classmates and I got older we started to see closer discrimination, more real discrimination, discrimination that happened in the here and now, but we were so pressured that it was not our problem, it was someone else’s fight, it didn’t happen to us that we almost universally believed that we didn’t have the right to care.  Someone else had it worse, so we didn’t have the right to care or act on it happening around us.

We got older and, suddenly, it was happening here, it was happening now, it was happening to us.  Boys would get pulled over while driving for no other reason than they were black, girls were bombarded by images of anorexic, computer enhanced super models a thousand times before they left the house in the morning, our schools would get money taken from them for being part of a failing district.  We still didn’t believe we had the right to care because we were told so much and so many times about other people, in other places, who had it so much worse.  Complaining about such…everyday things seemed like spitting on the suffering of those nameless people long ago and far, far away.

Don’t worry; this story doesn’t end this way, I promise.  You see, in 2012 this movie came out; Brave.  It was the first so called family movie where the princess was actually a hero, but a few months later Disney, which owned the movie, prettied her up to make toys; sparkly dress, perfect hair, the bow and arrow that changed the color of her hair but wasn’t actually a weapon, basically turning her into a rescue-me princess…which sparked outrage.  One day, while I read an article about it, I realized that everything I’d been conditioned to believe, about how I didn’t have the right to care, was bullshit.  The suffering of others doesn’t mean I have to back down when someone treats me as less because I am different.

So say this word with me; discrimination.  It’s okay, because I have the right, more than that, I have the responsibility, to care about it for myself and those around me regardless of other people who fight or have fought against more.

And guess what; so do you.



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