Originally published on 2-9-11
Some time ago I found myself sitting with my then partner on a brown suede sofa in a therapist’s office ready for couples counseling. The relationship had been so unimaginably volatile that I was a basket case and reeked of desperation. I had slowly lost my sense of self and conceded to changes that would possibly make the relationship work. One of the points we bartered on was that my partner could only use the racially charged “N” word in private and not out in public. Every time he said the word I cringed and felt humiliated. I would think to myself, we are living on the same planet right? Is that really necessary, to use such a hateful word because someone messed up a food order, or didn’t score a touchdown?
On the day that I made that concession, I failed humanity. I didn’t fight hard enough. When pejoratives are used and no one speaks up against them, that tells the person voicing those pejoratives, it’s ok.
Well, it’s not ok. When you’re met with a moment like that, when the person making racist remarks tries to pass it off as only a joke, don’t just excuse yourself from the conversation. Don’t think to yourself, it is what it is. With conviction in your voice say, not in front of me you won’t. “Do as much as you can to fight on the side of the light.”-Lorne Michaels
Not speaking out against injustices of any kind is a very slippery slope; it presents an opportunity for a negative group think mentality; and we’ve all seen what happens when a group of toxic, ill intended people band together. There are the possibilities for: wars, genocides, and denial of civil rights for beings worldwide.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me. - Pastor Martin Niemöller
Words are powerful; they have built empires, documented history, moved people into action, inspired the grandest of love affairs and given people that shining ray of light they need to make it through the day. Use words wisely. An injustice towards one person is an injustice for us all.
“Take up the battle, take it up!” –Maya Angelou