Are you a child? A parent? A sibling or spouse?
Are you a student? A professional? A butcher, or baker, or candlestick maker?
Are you an artist, or author, or musician, or athlete?
When you get up in the morning, what’s on your mind? Do you think:
I have a term paper due today.
I have to pack the kids’ lunches.
Mmmmm…an omelet sounds delish!
Where are my running shoes? I have to put in five miles today.
What a beautiful sunrise! Where’s my camera or my paintbrush?
Ugh…I’ve got that conference call at work today.
I’m guessing not too many people wake up and think:
I’m black today.
I’m gay today.
I’m a woman today.
(Well, if you’re pregnant, menopausal, or on your period, you might think, “Damnit, why do I have to be a woman today?”)
Lately, our society wants everyone to focus on “diversity.” Everyone has got to BE something more than just “being.” But what society forgets is that there’s more to being diverse than the color of your skin, your religion, your gender, or your sexual preference. If you look up “diversity” in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the first thing you see is this:
Note that the first definition is “the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.” Race and culture come after “differing elements.”
Who got to decide that, in our nation, diversity must only refer to your race, gender, religion, or sexual preference? Each and every one of us is a diverse individual. We all have different forms, ideas, interests, skills. We are all made up of more than the color of our skin, or our gender.
Now, I understand that some individuals have suffered more discrimination and oppression more than others based on some aspect of their character, and I agree that MOST of that discrimination and oppression is absolutely wrong. What I disagree with is the notion that ONLY certain races or cultures or genders have ever suffered from discrimination or oppression. Obviously, the severity of it differs, but so, too, has society over the generations.
I am a white female. There are things that, as a female, I am subjected to that men are not; sexual harassment and rape come to mind. There are also things that, as a female, I shouldn’t expect to be able to do, or included in unless I possess some pretty stringent qualifications. Very few women, for instance, can pass the physical agility portion of testing to become firefighters and, therefore, should be excluded from that job. Yes, I said it. There are places in the work-force (and in the military) where women just don’t belong. I don’t want to be trapped in a fire on the second (or higher) floor of a building and see some 120-pound woman come in thinking she’s going to carry my happy ass down a ladder – or my husband or my 170-pound dog. Forgive me for thinking that she’s just not capable of such feats. Chances are, she is not.
I am the child of a German immigrant. I was in elementary school still before the Berlin Wall came down. There were a few of us kids with German immigrant parents. When the other kids figured it out, I recall having to defend my mother as being from West Germany, or “the good side” so as not to be confused with the Nazis.
The news today abounds with stories of black oppression and it truly is a problem in some areas. But it’s also NOT a problem everywhere. The one thing that I really do not understand is the continued idea that slavery is something that blacks need to be compensated for in some way. Unless you are caught up in a human trafficking situation (and your race or gender does not grant you any exceptional status here), slavery has not been around for several generations. No one alive today has been a slave nor a slave owner. So many people in our nation today are first- and second-generation immigrants, so have no dog or pony in this show. Yes, slavery was a terrible thing, and it continues to be a terrible thing, mostly in other countries (discounting the aforementioned trafficking trade). There is no way to make up for it at this point in time. It was abolished and, legally, all men (and women) are equal now. Opportunities to achieve on all levels are available to all, whether or not some can and do take advantage of them. It’s hard work, but obviously it pays off seeing as we have spent the last (nearly) eight years with a black President of the United States.
This topic will obviously ruffle a lot of feathers, and that was not my intent with this post. First and foremost, I want people to recognize that each individual is unique and diverse all by his/herself. You probably don’t get up in the morning with your first thought being “I’m black/white, gay/straight, whatever today.” You’ve got too much else on your plate, too many other personal and professional responsibilities to let that one aspect of your being be the primary focus of your day-to-day existence.
So when will you stop allowing society, as depicted by the mainstream media, dictate who and what you are based only on one aspect?
You are more than that.
You are a person. A person of great worth. Don’t live your life fighting to be that “gay person” or that “black person”. Be YOU. Be your own person who just happens to be gay or black or female or whatever.
It is you who are responsible for your happiness. Our forefathers only guaranteed you the right to pursue it. Quit living a life expecting others to fix what you see is wrong. Stand up, dust yourself off, and fix your problems yourself.
Besides, chances are, you are the primary cause of your problems, not “others.”