Every movement or struggle for social change and equality has been met with backlash and even violence throughout history. The sea change that comes when people of conscience join forces with minority communities to demand justice is a non-violent force that may be slowed or detoured at times, but can never be stopped.
These battles are waged to shine a light on inequalities. Groups fight for social change in order to be seen fully as citizens and humans. We want inclusion. The ability to simply enjoy the same happiness and freedoms in life. Nothing “special” about it. I want the freedom to marry the love of my life just like you do. I want to make a living wage. I want to worship or not in my own way. In short, I want to participate in life the same way as you. It doesn’t mean you have to approve or participate. Your church doesn’t have to bless me. In short, my relationship doesn’t really have anything to do with you unless we agree to mingle our lives.
If our lives intersect, then we have a choice. We can erect barriers and interact superficially, with no need to converse or learn from one another, and keep our minds and hearts closed. Or, we can decide that the challenge is worth the discomfort. I can love you enough to try seeing your point of view. At least I can listen.
But, false equivalence cannot stand. My right to exist as an equal citizen and human is not subservient to your opinion or beliefs. Human rights and dignity do not change depending upon one’s religious affiliation or biases. They just don’t. Your beliefs are your right, but they stop where my dignity and humanity start.
We can disagree and still love each other unless our agreement requires me to alter my life and pretend to be someone I’m not for your comfort. My differences as a human being should not need to be erased so that you can reassure yourself that you are enlightened and open-minded.
Please understand, when you tell a person of color that they act as white as you or are wonderful because they don’t bring up race, or when you praise a Muslim woman for not wearing a hijab because this is America, or applaud a Jewish person for wishing you a Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, or when you tell a LGBT person they are right not to “throw their sexuality in your face”–by holding hands or something radical like that, what you really mean is that hiding essential parts of us allows you to pretend we don’t exist in our full humanity. You are comfortable as long as we don’t make you acknowledge who we really are.
That’s not understanding or support or even love. That is tolerating the idea of me only on your terms. You are comfortable when we bow to your privilege.