Is it just me or is the world slowly becoming a shittier place? When terms like
"social justice warrior" and "feminist" are pejorative, know that you are living in a world that is in regression. I am exhausted by the casual yet subtle racism, sexism and homophobia I see every single day, and frankly I am tired of ignoring it for the sake of grace. What does tolerance and diversity really mean? And how do these concepts shape our ideas and communities?
The civil rights movement was the birth of a new generation. All around the world we saw women, blacks and gays come together to fight for their place in society. This movement was also responsible for the now generally accepted and collective idea that everyone should be treated equally. This means you are now meant to "tolerate" the blacks who are now attending your schools, the gay couple on your street and the only woman at your job.
All of us are conditioned to accept sexist, racist hetero-normative ideas and politics everyday. The permeate our culture and media outlets, and are the foundation of the western society as we now know it. It is in the marrow of our bones. But somehow we find it difficult to recognise and acknowledge bigotry when it is happening right in front of our faces.
I am over the notion of "tolerance." It somehow implies that someone is abiding a bad behaviour. I can not help being black or a woman, anymore than someone can help being gay. So to say you are "tolerating" me implies that there is something inherently wrong with who I am. Has progress been made? Absolutely. As a black woman in 2016 I can vote, educate myself, own property and not be a slave. Let's not get too excited though; we started from a negative. So now I am basically allowed to be a "full" functioning human being in a society that my ancestors were forced to build for free. So please excuse me if I am still not satisfied with our current state of affairs.
If you are a woman and you want to be a doctor, dentist, lawyer, engineer, business owner, technician, engineer, IT specialist, professor, construction worker, musician, bus/taxi driver, trades person, politician, chef, police officer, fire fighter or comedian it is likely that you will face discrimination at your job not to mention less pay than your male counterparts. Suddenly the job market seems a little less promising for young women. How many articles do I have to read by non comedians about why I am inherently less capable of doing a job they have never done because I don't have a penis? It's time for us to get a grip.
Perhaps men are better suited to all of these positions, and raising families and running households is the acme of a woman's capabilities. Maybe black people just aren't as smart or productive. They don't have souls and are therefore subhuman. Thankfully we rescued these primitive heathen savages from those jungles. These are the lies our western society has told itself for hundreds of years in order to globally sanction and profiteer from property theft, human trafficking, rape and genocide of our planet. And it's not over, it has simply gone underground. But if you dare to make mention of any these facts you are of course playing the illusive "race card " or labelled a "feminazi". How did we distort the perception an equality movement to the point where we equate it was fascism?
Calling someone racist is a very heavy charge in our society today. So heavy that even the KKK claim to be non racist. This is all too convenient for the ruling classes because they can continue to engage in bigoted behaviours and benefit from a system of inequality with complete absolution. Not for one moment do I believe that conservatives and republicans have equality on the agenda, because such changes would inevitably mean giving up a piece of their pie.
Today we face new challenges when battling bigotry because it can be less overt, and it's constantly disguising itself. When reporters note the athletic achievements of a convicted rapist, or the scholastic record of a black teenager murdered by racists. When we vilify a sex trafficked minor for having sex with 25 boys in a bathroom and make an international issue of where a transsexual chooses to pee. When a teenage boy can murder 10 black people in a church, live and get Burger King on the way to jail. When people embrace the confederate flag after a racist mass murder. When people aren't truly free to love who they want to without judgement and consequence. When nationalism is on the rise all over the world and racists march in our peaceful mixed communities to promote hate and exclusion. When lyrics in mainstream music constantly refer to women as "bitches" and "hos" whilst exploiting their bodies for attention and financial gain. Know that the civil rights movement did not end inequality, and that we have a lot more work to do.
So how do we fight this? It starts with education and awareness, and it starts at home. No more excusing your racist Grandma's comments, or racially profiling the black kid in the subway. Pick up a book, watch a documentary, educate yourself and share your knowledge. Discuss race and challenge bigoted rhetoric. Go to a pride parade, march in the streets, show your face and your support. And lastly reflect and come to realise that we have all been conditioned by the system to uphold patriarchal and white supremacist ideals, but also know that we can unlearn these behaviours. Speak up and rise up. Be an unashamed feminist and social justice warrior for no other reasons than thousands of people fought and died for our equality and there is no guarantee that these rights and freedoms are forever.