Friday, December 31, 2010

End of the Year Review

I started my blog in June of this year but the real 'stuff' went up in July. This post was called a "Call for Coalition Building"
I'm making a call to all my sisters and brothers out there. My people of color. As Latinos, Asians, Blacks, and for good measure lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals we must work together. We must build coalitions to work for social justice. We cannot push people down to make ourselves 'fit in' with white America, rather we need to level the playing field and make sure that we change America to make it an inclusive place. We do not need to fit the mold of 'America' but create a new America. Where we challenge stereotypes, where we think critically, where we can see the whole person. Until then we must continue to work for social justice.
I still stand by this but I think its too little and little why. Social justice is not something that only people of color should be invested. I see it as of critical importance for all be people to be advocates for social justice but I feel that as people of color we are often effected by injustice so we should be on the front lines of social justice to speak for ourselves and our communities. This is not intended to disrespect any white advocates either. One of my close friends and teachers who I will call Karen has been one of my biggest pushes into social justice advocacy and my initial training was with her. I love her passion and so I try to bring it to this blog. I still have a long way to go because no one is perfect.

I know that the way to change this country, to make it work right, to help it live up to it's credo, to follow the principles of the Declaration of Independence, to make the statement Liberty and Justice for All an honest one, to work for social justice, to give voice to the voiceless, is to stay in this country, live here, work here, speak out, speak up, and stand by what I believe.
 The above is from my 4th of July post titled "'Happy' 4th of July" where I discussed 4th of July and what can be done to make it a good day, especially considering America's history of oppression and current state. This is the way to change America. To live by our ideals. If we live social justice, we will think social justice, and we will create social justice. I go a bit further and discuss overt hate in this country but especially against Muslims and immigrants (particularly from Mexico)
As Americans, as people living in America, as people reading this abroad, where is the love?
I asked where is the love in my "Hate in this Country" post. I think it's important today and will be until we live in a different country.It's okay to disagree because that is the essence of America, difference. We do NOT need to fight each other over it. We do not need to scream to be heard. Sometimes when we're hurt or angry we need to scream to feel better and there is a time and a place for that. So I'm asking again, where is the love?

In my post To Whom Do We Turn...? I asked the following questions that do not really have answers:
Should we expect celebrities like Lady Gaga to speak out for people of color just because she speaks out for LGBT rights? What about Latino celebrities? Should we hold them to a different standard regarding issues of race? What about Lisa Cholodenko the director of the Kids Are All Right? Should we expect different things from her as a lesbian? Should we be accustomed to being let down by the artists that are mainstream?
Now like I said no one is perfect. My imperfections are generally not blasted on the television for the world to see. Taking that into consideration and knowing a least on the surface what the cult of celebrity is like, is there a standard?  I cannot say I have the answer. Lady Gaga speaks out on gay issues often. Shakira speaks out on Latino issues and issues of education. There are many who were/are angry with President Obama for not doing enough for race. Can we expect out biracial President to be our champion of race solely because of his race? We must not forget that Obama was elected with lots of support. Now that he's in office we must continue this support. We also must look at what has been done not just what we're waiting for. In the past we have fought for equality and worked for it, we must continue that fight regardless of what support (or lack thereof ) we have from the White House.

In December I came face to face with sad memories from my past in the faces of several young boys. They are not the first victims of suicide due to hate, bullying, heterosexism, etc. They did happen so close together and touched many people and seemed to be starting something with power. In No More Dead LGBT Youth I talked about the recent suicides (at the time, that I knew of/heard about) and brought up past hate crimes.

I am MAD and not just because I'm gay. I remember what it was like to be in a place of utter darkness and seemingly no escape. A place that it hurts to think about. Suicide seems like your only option in that place. It hurts! When I saw these young faces, back to back, I remembered those days and it hurt me deep inside. I wished I could go back in time and tell them it's not the end of the world, that things will get better, that there are people out there who will love them and accept them, that they will find love, and that they will find friends that don't make them fit any gender box. Having out gays in their lives telling them that "[they're] not sick, nothing's wrong with [them] and God doesn't hate [them]" (from the movie Milk). These are beautiful young people gone too soon. I'd share my story and tell them that it gets better. It does. I am surrounded by friends and family that love me and support me. Some of them very unexpectedly.
I was caught up in the it gets better conversation. It doesn't just get better. We have to make it better. It does not just get better. Things are the way they are today for racial and ethnic minorities, for sexual minorities, for religious minorities, for people with disabilities, and everyone else because our ancestors, our parents, our elders fought for equality. We are living in their hopes and dreams and then some. It's not done. We are not done. Again, it does not get better. To any young people reading this, you will be able to surround yourself with loved ones whether your family or family of choice. In that respect it will get better. For the coming generation and the one after that we need to make it better, not let them suffer in silence til they can move out, or go to college or runaway. All students deserve to feel safe in their homes, schools, places of worship, etc. Wherever a child is they should be safe. 

I am a firm believer in coalition building. If disenfranchised groups worked together to pull each other up instead of pushing each other down or leaving each other to struggle alone we could have such large numbers, such a loud voice that we would make change. My last blog post I'm Ready To Jump In discussed this. In particular the immigrant struggle with the DREAM Act, should be fought for by the same people who were fighting to overturn DADT. Martin Luther King Jr said,
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
 If one groups is being oppressed all groups will be or be at risk for being oppressed. It may take centuries to undo the damage of slavery, genocide, and silence but we CAN take steps today to make America a country of freedom and equality, liberty and justice for ALL. It starts with each of us.

This is my challenge to every reader of this blog and everyone you share this with: With the new year do something new for equality. When you see something, say something. Discuss social problems with your families, friends, children, be an INFORMED VOTER, VOTE, inform your public officials what you think. Let them know that you support equality. Since you'll try to be informed you'll know what laws, bills, etc are in the works and speak out. Write blogs, letters to the editor. Have money? Give it to a cause you care about. Have time? Volunteer where you're needed. Thinking of a career become a teacher. We need good teachers. Administration? We need people in charge making change just as much as we need public pressure on those officials. We need people to think and be informed. We need politicians to think about the people not their paychecks. There is no answer to inequality. Many of us have ideas. A journey begins with a single step. We have history/herstory to tell us that change is possible. Learn about it. The path is started. We need to pick up the reins and steer change forward.

Check out:
Habitat for Humanity
Planned Parenthood
Crisis Services -this is the Buffalo site but find a similar organization in your area
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
The NAACP -The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Southern Poverty Law Center
The United States Senate
New York State -for information about several causes

The above are not the be all end all of community organizations or information but it's a start. The rest is up to you.

(Note about this blog: I'm a college student. I'm the VP of a student organization and I work. I am finishing up my grad school apps as we speak. I hope to continue with blog with more posts more frequently. I also hope to make this blog more Spanish-reader friendly.)

As 2010 comes to a close I wish you all the best in 2011and hope you join me in being the change we wish to see in the world!

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