Welcome to my final post in this year's Hop For Visibility, Awareness, and Equality.
I hope that you've found a lot to read that you enjoyed, learned from, and that made you feel heard and seen. I hope the hop gave you as much joy and validation as it did for me.
I'd like to remind you to visit all the other bloggers that you can. You can find their posts HERE.
Also, please be sure to take a gander at the IDAHOT website HERE.
Oh, and prizes. One lucky commenter (on all the blog posts I did for the hop) will win their choice of any ebook from my backlist.
Okay, now on to the body of my post. Bear with me. I'm going to take a bit of a meander in getting to my point today. I hope you'll take the time to amble along with me. I think if you do, you'll find the journey's end well worth the steps it took to get there.
The only way to get there is to start, so let's begin...
On the bus today I got to overhear a girl talking with her friend about a recent job interview. She relayed the questions she was asked and her answers. I thought for sure she was going to tell the friend she got the job, because dang, I would have hired her to work as a nurses aide in a heartbeat.
She was all about substance over appearance, being honest with family members, and providing the best possible patient care she could in the time she was allotted.
She didn't get the job, though.
She came to the interview in a headscarf, and that was "unprofessional attire for a job interview".
She explained to her friend how she'd decided to wear a scarf because her hair hadn't been "done" professionally in a while. She thought it wasn't up to snuff for an interview, and the twists she wore it in were starting to grow out. Not something she could fix up herself, and her hairdresser was booked up for a few weeks. She painstakingly chose the scarf, tied it neatly and prettily around her head.
My daughter asked me about the girl and her friend. And it was a prime opportunity for me to explain systemic racism to her, and how I believe systemic bias and bigotry affect everyone in a negative manner.
And I do mean everyone.
You see, I watched that girl and her friend get off the bus. And during their conversation, I heard them call one another by name, heard the way they spoke.
We'll say her name was Kimberly. His can be Daquan for the purpose of this blog. Neither are their real names, but each bore the same imprint of ethnicity as the two I've given them. And Daquan, who also applied for a job at the same place, was not offered an interview, although he had more experience than Kimberly. Both had applied because a mutual acquaintance works at the long term care facility, and encouraged them to do so. They both used her for a reference.
Kimberly's interview seemed to go well right until the end, when the human resources representative told her that her headscarf was unprofessional, though *wink, wink* very cute on her.
She said, "I think he just wanted to see me, because he couldn't tell...not on the phone...he wanted to see so he could be sure."
I wasn't surprised when Kimberly and Daquan got off the bus to see two attractive, robust young people in their early twenties. I also was not surprised to see they were both black. You couldn't tell from their speech. They both spoke like any other well educated young twenty-something. They were polite and spoke at a moderate level. And they never complained other than Kimberly saying she wished the man had just been honest enough to say as soon as he saw her that he wasn't going to hire her instead of wasting her time.
She didn't cuss.
She didn't call him names.
She didn't even sound angry.
Because Kimberly wasn't surprised.
This is every day life for her.
This isn't even a blip in the road.
I was saddened for Kimberly. And even more so, I'm saddened for all of us who've gotten so accustomed to the status quo that we simply accept it at face value.
I am saddened by systemic racism.
I am saddened by the second and third class citizen status of so many people in my country.
I am saddened when the overwhelming reaction to the achievement of one small equality--legalization of same sex marriage--is a horrific pushback and the passage of multiple anti-LGBTQI laws in various states.
It means we have a long, long way to go.
And we'd better not forget it.
This fight is not done.
Because just like Kimberly, far too many in the LGBTQI community have grown accustomed to the disparity in how they are treated in our country. It's not on the law books as a death offense here in the United States. We don't throw people in jail for being gay, lesbian, bi, or trans.
We can fire them for being who they are though. We can allow ourselves to be swayed by old, wrong-headed stereotypes about people who fall under the LGBTQI umbrella.
And hey, it's hard not to when it didn't stop being classified as a mental disorder in the DSM-ll or the American classification of mental disorders. Trasgender identity is still classified as one. It's called Gender Dysphoria in the mental health field. To get treated and have some form of insurance cover it, a transgender person has to declare they have a mental illness.
And isn't that a kick in the teeth.
But wait, it gets worse.
Our umbrella is pretty big. We can all fit under it. If we are willing to get close. Share our space, and fight back to back.
That's not happening right now.
We've all been told since we were babies that being straight is normal. That's pervasive in every single facet of our society. We can learn different things after we are old enough to understand, but those early lessons of pink and blue and is it a boy or a girl and socialized toys in aisles for boys and aisles for girls...those things get internalized. They become entangled in our emotions. And while our heads may understand that there is in truth no such thing as normal, only variations along a spectrum, our hearts struggle far longer to learn that lesson.
Let's remember and celebrate how far we've come from the dark days when no one who lived under the umbrella dared to speak about their true selves.
Let's also remember how very far we have to go.
Let's remember that even if an inequality seems on the surface to not affect us, it does.
If Kimberly can be denied an opportunity based on the color of her skin, or the kink of her hair, then all of us are at risk of being denied jobs because of our skin color, our eye color, etc.
If Glenn can lose his job when his boss discovers he is gay, then so can any of us based on our sexuality.
The same goes for our physical sex characteristics, our gender identity, our sexual orientation, our age, and oh, I can go on and on.
We are none of us free until we are all free.
We are none of us equal until we are all equal.
Isn't it time we began to behave accordingly?
We gather under an umbrella made of rainbows and hope to lift one another up.
That can only be achieved if we learn to examine our own prejudices, cop to them, and be willing to let them go.
There is no wrong or right way to be a man or a woman.
There is no need to choose one or the other if you don't fit into that gender binary.
There is no better way to be gay, or lesbian, or queer, or ace.
There ARE bisexual people. They are not automatically "in denial". Bisexuality is a real thing.
We are all human.
And we need to remember that first and foremost. We need to treat each member of our community well. And if we find ourselves guilty of thinking someone is doing homosexuality, bisexuality, or asexuality wrong, we need to look long and hard at where those assumptions come from.
It's like this.
I read this great book to my kidlet during potty training.
You know, eons ago.
It was called, Everybody Poops.
And guess what?
Everybody does poop.
And they all cry, and love, and get angry, etc.
If they don't cry when they're sad it's because someone taught them that it's not okay to do so.
If they hate swishy gays, or butch gays, or all gays...I can tell you right now IT"S BECAUSE SOMEBODY TAUGHT THEM TO.
Well, I got taught a load of crap when I was younger.
And my mom loved the hell out of me. She didn't teach me crap on purpose. She taught me crap because she'd been taught crap by her mom who'd been taught crap, etc.
But I don't have to keep believing that crap because she also taught me to think for myself. And to examine what I was taught. And neither do you.
Take a deep breath.
Take a hard look at yourself and your beliefs.
Lasting change starts small, starts close to home.
So start with you. Change how you talk about masculinity, femininity, and humanity.
Use the pronouns people ask you to use.
If you're not sure, ask. But do so politely.
If you suck at names, cop to that when your friend or workmate comes out as trans and asks to be called a new name.
Say, "... hey, I'm really bad at names, *I have to do this all the time* and since I met you as Tom, I'm going to struggle for a little while remembering that your name's Allie now. Please be patient. I absolutely want to support you. But I a shit with names. Seriously. Like that guy at the store? I always call him Paul. But his name is actually Steve. And I never remember until after I've already called him Paul." And if there's a legit reason, like you have a traumatic brain injury, or whatever, tell them. And if you don't have a physical or mental health thing that makes it legitimately tougher for you, prioritize learning to call them by the new name. Because it's a HUGE deal to them.
Show real support to others who fall under the umbrella with you. Remember when someone said to you that being gay or lesbian was just a phase? Remember how that hurt, or pissed you off? Okay, then don't do that to someone else under the umbrella.
And then dig deep.
Because this fight is a long way from over.
We're not free until we are all free. We're not equal until we are all equal.