Over the years I have noticed a few things about people who talk about promoting change and equality. Specifically, I have encountered several of these people and groups in high school/college–I graduated in ’09 and ’12. But in the end, I am often confused as to what their end goal is. I mean sure they say it’s to create opportunities for their specified group, making them equal to everyone outside of the group, but is that really the case? Is the end goal truly complete integration?
People often complain about certain social structures and the discrepancies between social groups, but they always complain to and discuss within their group and not directly to the “other.” When I was a graduate student at Fordham University, my professor asked me if I was in any social clubs, e.g. BSU, aka Black Student Union. I replied, “I don’t do those,” and of course he immediately questioned why. I expressed that although I understand the purpose of the separated groups and the way in which they are conveniently formed, I’d be more obliged to join a diversity group instead—all inclusive and having various issues addressed amongst one another. He understood; and you know what else he told me? As a man of mixed race, Dominican and African-American, he happened to be the sponsor of two social groups: the Hispanic group and the African-American group (I don’t remember their acronyms, sorry). One day, he proposed to each group the opportunity of joining as one. He explained the advantages of the collaboration and how they could unite resources, expand their reach, discuss issues that each of them face separately, together, and possibly with one another, etc. Their response: no, we want to stay within our own groups; we don’t need to join with them.
Seriously people? I call bullshxt. We protest equality, we say we want integration and unity, but when the time comes we show our true colors—we really want superiority. We want our chance to “be the man.”
Yes, I know that some people are expressing themselves and joining with others to create change– I salute them and this isn’t for them. But if you immediately become defensive, this is for you. I need you to truly evaluate what it is that you want. When you speak about change and equality are you always referring to people as “them,” “they” and “those.” When you cry out in outrage is only to those who look like you or is it to everyone? & are you always on the defense?
And to those who complain about people who are actually in these groups: have you ever tried to join one? Have you ever attended a function or event that was directed toward a cause that may not be directly linked to you? Do you listen when these people are speaking, or do you immediately write them off because you assume that what they have to say isn’t relevant to you? Something that I appreciate about LGTBQ groups is that they usually present their groups as a Gay-Straight Alliance. They understand the importance in the ally.
Look, I get it, I promise I do. When I went to a student diversity leadership conference in high school, I broke down like a baby in front of my peers–it was only about 8 people & 2-3 were teachers. I didn’t realize how much certain behaviors affected me and that people’s ignorant comments and snide remarks bothered me so much. But, so many of them behaved in that way due to the lack of exposure to people that didn’t look like or grow up like them. &People can’t learn about something if no one ever teaches them–that’s where you come in. You know the White guys in high school never knew that Black women are not born with straight hair, but have to chemically alter it every month. Lol. But why would they? –especially before the “natural hair movement!” And that sort of thing is trivial, so imagine other things.
It’s unfortunate that we don’t know how to speak to one another. It is unfortunate that over the years so much anger has been festering and tension has been building. But I ask that you try a little harder. Try harder to communicate with the person on the outside. Or when someone on the inside invites you to see the view, go and check it out! That way, there will be no longer be an outside and inside. It’ll be one view, one goal. And this is NOT limited to race; it’s just what I experience the most. This spans the entire spectrum people. You will never know that my cause is your cause if we don’t join in efforts together.
If you want equality, prove it.