Kind Hearted Vs Activist

Painting by Tracey Rediker RedLincArt

#checkyourprivilege

This is an inside joke, but not really. It is just as much a reminder that while I may feel like I am struggling all the time, I have been given so much opportunity that others have not.

On this Martin Luther King Jr holiday weekend, I am inspired to think about how far we have come in America and how far we have to go. It is something I think about often, as I am a stereotype. White, middle-class, woman, college graduate, New York, Jew; I check all the boxes for liberal. My mother would be proud of how much I care that my fellow man is treated fairly.

I not-so-secretly hide shame around this yearning for equality. I don’t do anything. I am not marching. I am not donating. I am sitting in my house, reading about what others are doing and cheering them on. Its embarrassing.

Maybe it is because of my privilege I have yet to be inspired to take to the streets. Had I experienced discrimination because of my gender, or been denied access to birth control, or sexually assaulted, I would be out there with my sisters. I am lucky that I have had none of these experiences. I feel like I have the right to complain since I have nothing to complain about.

How can I speak to change if I have no understanding of the experience? One could say that our government does this all the time, making legislation without personal knowledge on the subject.

My go-to is usually just outrage over a situation, sharing news, good and bad, on issues popular at that moment. This is a very common stance. It is a minimal contribution and close to nothing at all.

My emotions tell me I should care more. I am a wife and mother, there are tons of issues that could and do effect my family. I do engage my children in discussions of why they should care about things in the news.

So on this day of remembrance, I will once again discuss with my children the legacy of the great man who led our country into a new chapter. Treating our fellow man as less-than is not ok. Denying service based on personal beliefs is not ok. Standing up for your rights in the face of great opposition is the bravest and most patriotic thing you can do. Trying to understand the other side is a gesture of love and does not make you weak.

And maybe I will raise good people who will make the world a better place just by their existing in it.

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