Starting a Dialogue

This summer has been emotional. It seems that I can’t wake up without getting a notification about a death. Each day sees bombings and shootings and hate. Hate permeates our society; not just American society but our global society. We feed off of hate. What stretches across borders, languages, religions, races, ethnicities, and cultures? Hate. Cheesy as it sounds…but so does love. Love is what strengthens a community to combat hate. Love is what brings together people from different cultures, religions, countries, races, languages, and ethnicities. It is a love for each other as human beings on this earth. We all share similar hopes, dreams, and fears. It doesn’t matter if you tell your dreams in French, English, Swahili, sign language, Vietnamese, or Portuguese. Or any language. We all have things in common. Why is it so hard for some to see that? Why is it so irrationally difficult for some to see that we are equally important? Why is it difficult for some to see that all religions are acceptable? Or why do I support my LGBTQ friends, peers and the community? Because everyone deserves love. Why do I? Because I love them for who they are. I love my friends who are different from me. I love my friends who are similar to me. Because I cannot stand living a life where everyone is identical to myself. A world where no one is unique.

You might be asking by now “well…what does this have to do with the refugee crisis…isn’t that what your blog is supposed to be about?” The answer is: it is about starting a dialogue. I am comfortable discussing difficult issues with my friends and family. I feel safe articulating my thoughts on situations. I desire for everyone to have that same feeling. So here is how it ties back to the refugee crisis at hand. You must speak up for what you believe in. It is the same sentence your parents, teachers, mentors or whomever has told you over the years. But it never goes away. I believe everyone in this world deserves to live to the highest of their capability and should have the opportunity to try everything to reach their goals. That includes those of different religion, race, ethnicity, sexuality, language, and country. ANYONE. Why should someone have that right taken away because they are black? Or because they are a woman? Because they are a different religion? Because they are a different sexuality? Maybe it’s their gender…or their ethnic group…country of origin? NONE OF THE ABOVE. Your gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, religion, language, anything, nothing should stop you from accomplishing your dreams. Or trying to reach your dreams. Yes, some people are more privileged than others. I am more privileged than some. Some are more privileged than me. That is the way the world works. But it does not mean that you cannot strive for greater, better, more.

I was in Greece when I heard about the attack in Orlando. And it broke my heart. I was born three years before 9/11. I have grown up in a world paralyzed by fear of terrorism. I cannot fly to Greece without having all my belongings searched. I can’t enter my school without being buzzed in by security. I am afraid of movie theatres. And now, am I supposed to be afraid of clubs? Of places where people feel safe? Gay/Lesbian bars were sanctuaries for those to feel like they can be truly who they are. No false appearances needed. Now what? It breaks my heart to ever think that my friends, my LGBTQ friends, could’ve been killed. Why were they killed? HATE. This was a hate crime. Innocent, loving people were killed because of who they are. I carefully choose my language. I chose “are”  instead of “were”. Because I don’t believe they are truly gone. Their memory, their legacy, lives on, and it gives us all a reason to fight for justice and love for all.

I was here in Birmingham when I heard about the deaths of Alton Stearling and Philando Castile. Brutally killed. Did selling CDs require multiple gunshot wounds when he was incapable of moving? Did a busted headlight deserve to be shot in the chest as you reached for your ID?. These men left behind families. They are not of any lesser value because of the color of their skin. It is unnecessary violence. In no world should those men have been killed. Was it because their skin was a different color? It fueled by hate. Police brutality exists. These are prime examples.

That is not to say all cops are bad. I am not anti-cop. I believe that there are truly some wonderful policemen and women who risk their lives to keep us safe. I admire their constant courage. I was recently in Memphis where I saw a memorial ride for a fallen police officer. He was shot as he tried to get citizens out of the street to protect them from a suspect with a gun. This police officer lost his life keeping us safe. In Dallas, five police officers were killed during a peaceful protest. As the protestors calmly and peacefully protested police brutality, a sniper shot and killed five officers. These five men were simply trying to protect their citizens. They also left behind families. These cops are men. They are humans. This act was fueled by hate.

Hate is what ruins our society. It is a disease worse than any other. It infects one person until it spreads throughout towns, cities, counties, states, and countries. Now it has infected the world. Gone was the love we had for our fellow neighbor.

Again, you might be thinking “okay…now what?” Now I task each person who reads this to start a dialogue. If you’re with your parents, talk to them. Your partner? They’ll listen. Your teachers? They’d love to hear your opinion. Friends? Even they’d want to talk. Talk about what upsets you. Is it racism? Talk about it. Is it sexism? Talk about it. LGBTQ discrimination? Talk about it. War and refugees? Talk about it. Creating dialogue will usher in a wave of ideas. With ideas come changes. With change will come love. We just have to work and wait.


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