“But shouldn’t we be about equal-ism?” One of them piped up.
I understood where she was coming from. After all, this generation of girls have been afforded the most freedom since Pagan goddesses ruled the stones. But she is still wrong.
It was my husband who explained to this gathered youth that we will need feminism until the playing field is equal. We need feminism to right the imbalance before we can concentrate on the principles of ‘equal-ism’.
As I watch the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of two police shootings, I was reminded the same holds true.
What feminism and LGBT groups, what the Black Lives Matter movement have in common is the noble ideal of equality. It dangles that golden ideal in front of the disenfranchised like a carrot before a horse.
Black Lives Matter is not saying black lives matter MORE than others. It is pleading, heartbreakingly, to be invited to the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness party. Feminism is not asking to be placed at the sole head of the table, it’s asking for seats representative of its members. LGBT rights activists don’t want to be treated better than-just the same as.
We don’t want to be better, the disenfranchised plead. We don’t think we matter MORE. We want to matter the same.
It is a lofty goal: Equality. That one word holds both the promise of success and the reason why movements like feminism and Black Lives Matter continually fail.
They fail because the powers in place, almost exclusively white, overwhelmingly male, don’t believe in equality.
They believer they are better.
The heart of darkness in America is the belief that blacks, women, gays, and minorities are inferior.
Black Americans are not equal to white Americans. Women are not equal to men. My firmly held belief that they should be doesn’t matter when I talk about acknowledging the fact that they aren’t. The imbalance is there and it’s killing us. Individually and as a country.
They’ll deny it. They will create sound-bites and tweets, will twist and turn in the wind seeking a place of safe denial, they will grasp at any straw they can to contort their beliefs of superiority into something that is not bigoted, racist, or sexist. Somehow they always manage to convince themselves that oppression–the denial of equality– in always the other person’s fault.
“He should have just complied.”
“She should have known better.”
“You’re no better than us. Who do you think you are?”
By saying All Lives Matter, you are missing the point entirely. You don’t get to say that until you address the fact that in the United States of America, in 2016, black lives don’t matter as much as white ones. You don’t get to spout off about not having a “men’s history month” until you acknowledge that the other eleven months of the year are almost exclusively dedicated to the achievements of males.
At the end of these never-ending days, there is still a majority of white Americans who believe they are superior to black Americans, just as there are a majority of men who believe they are superior to women.
How do I know this?
Because you are killing us. You’re killing us softly and loudly, over and over again. Blacks, women, LGBT. Time and time again with your fists and your laws and your guns you are saying you don’t matter as much as we do. Your bodies and lives don’t matter as much as ours.
There will be those who read this and think, ‘that’s not me’.
To you I say: Hold on to that. Teach your kids. Show them in not only words but actions. Stop stereotyping. But mostly, acknowledge there is an imbalance of power, because until you do, there is no hope of achieving anything through movements that promote equality.
Until white Americans start accepting that heart of darkness exists, until men accept there are shocking imbalances to address, until everyone understands that black Americans, women and minorities are not simply making this shit up, nothing is going to change.
And if there is no change? Then the rhetoric itself will eventually change. It will morph from the lofty ideal of equality to something altogether darker and more sinister.