Category Archives: Injustice anywhere
It’s good to remember your place in the world. Injustice anywhere is inextricably linked to injustice at home, it is a threat to justice everywhere.
I feel privileged to fight against injustice with a relative amount of security in the United States. Cases of violence against gay men and lesbians occur – and occur with all too great a frequency – but there is little organized threat against us in most corners of the United States.
Not so in many other corners of the world. And hell, it’s not even “corners” of the world, but great swathes.
Just one news story. One out of so many others. The people of Lebanon, the people of Iraq, the people of Uganda, the people of X country, Y country, Z country.
We need more leaders like Hillary Clinton. A major reason why I am supporting Barack Obama’s re-election is because of the courage his administration has in spotlighting the need for equality. Mitt Romney’s promise if he gets elected to office? He won’t deport us or criminalize homosexuality.
If this becomes the U.S. policy – quiet tolerance at best – what does that mean for the rest of the world? Would Romney’s Secretary of State deliver speeches to the UN about the need for leaders to be out front, leading their respective countries on the question of LGBT rights? What would Romney’s election mean not only for us as the LGBT community in the United States but for our fellow LGBT siblings across the globe? Our progress is linked. We don’t make advances in isolation of one another and Romney’s election would be an inevitable setback for all of us.
Days like this you don’t feel like going to make phone calls for a political campaign or getting hung up on or yelled at.
Some days the news makes you cry while you’re driving in your car.
Things like this aren’t supposed to happen.
We’re numb to bombs killing scores in foreign countries where we’re at war. We’re numb to other people’s children getting mowed down in gunfights. We’re not used to our own children, brothers and sisters, friends, loved ones – here in this country, here in the United States – getting killed on a Thursday night.
We’re all thinking about Colorado – but what about the other regions of the world, even other regions of our own country, where these things are expected.
If twelve people get killed in the southside of Chicago in a weekend, no one notices. Twelve people getting killed in Syria is a good day – at least it wasn’t more.
And days like this you feel the weight of it all – for whatever that’s worth as a person of privilege living in a good neighborhood in a safe city where I can walk the street at any hour of the day without feeling threatened. Not so unlike the people of Aurora last Thursday before midnight.
Everyone deserves a safe place to live, to grow up, to hang out with their friends, to go to the movies… I’ve heard remarkable things about the people of Aurora and how they’re rallying together. Let’s rally with them. Let’s rally with the people of Aurora, and every community and country marred with gun violence, every community on and off the news.
We need less days like this.
I’ve been contemplating an entry like this for a long time. Now the National Organization for Marriage has given me the perfect excuse by making hay out of Reverend Keith Ratliff’s resignation from the NAACP over their recent endorsement of marriage equality.
Here’s what Mr. Ratliff is reported to have said according to the NOM’s Facebook page:
There is not a parallel between the homosexual community and the struggles of African-Americans in our country. I haven’t seen any signs on any restrooms that say ‘For Homosexuals Only.’ Homosexuals do not have to sit on the back of the bus, as African-Americans had to.
Now I don’t want to get anything wrong here, because on the one hand, Mr. Ratliff is 100% correct. There never has been a segregation between straight people and queer people in this country. We are the invisible minority. We can pass for a member of the majority if necessary; and, besides, without trying to hide ourselves, we usually don’t get picked out of a crowd as being any different.
Gay is not the new black.
I also want to point out that holding a competition between who’s the most discriminated against is a dangerous and futile business; the last thing I’m trying to do today is argue that queer people suffer from more discrimination than African Americans. Since the groups overlap, collectively speaking, queer African Americans take the trophy on this one, I think.
But I firmly believe in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which I do not throw around flippantly, but with the greatest reverence. As I made my first steps to being out at a Christian college, these words moved me more profoundly than anything else I’d ever read up to that point in my life. They shape my life still today:
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
Excerpt thanks to the UPenn website. See the rest of it here.
Although Dr. King was speaking within the context of the Civil Rights Movement, this same principle of “an inescapable network of mutuality” holds true in broader terms, as well – even in Dr. King’s own life. In 1968 before his assassination, he was working on organizing the Poor People’s Campaign to turn the spotlight on Americans of all backgrounds who were being shut out from the American Dream.
In one way or another, all discrimination, all injustice is interconnected.
I don’t echo Dr. King on this because it’s simply a memorable phrase. I think there’s something more to this. If, as minorities of one sort or another, all we do is fight for our own inclusion in the dominant society of our day without also trying to reform it, then we are no better than our oppressors. If all we’re doing is looking out for our own selves without trying to help others along the way, then that’s a sad commentary on the state of our outlook on existence.
Here’s what Kim Randle and I had to say in a newspaper article we wrote together back in 2009:
We need a communitarian commitment to one another — to understand one another, to learn from one another, to value and cherish our neighbors. A meaningful communitarian approach means valuing all of our neighbors and actively affirming our equality. This means white people need to stand up and demand justice for racial minorities. This means men need to demand equal opportunity for women. This means that heterosexual people need to demand integration of LGBT peers into our community.
There is not just one injustice that should rile the community that deserves our attention. Because of the fallen world and inherent evil we live in, we must strive continually to rectify all of our societal wrongs. This means that we should be angry about all injustice, all wrong, all prejudice, all hate and all marginalization. What makes us angry about race should also make us angry about homophobia, sexism, child sex trafficking, xenophobia and more.
So, in short Rev. Ratliff, I humbly submit to you my firm belief that injustice does not exist in isolation. Although I don’t know your own journey – I respect it. I respect you for the challenges that you face.
To the NAACP, thank you. Thank you for recognizing that the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. hold true today. That injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Thank you for recognizing that although my own story is different than yours, we can still fight for one another.
Let’s keep working, let’s keep fighting.