Not far enough

Things you hear while fighting for equality:

  • “We’ve come so far, what more do you want?”

  • “Just stop whining.”

  • “Why is there a women’s march when there’s already equality?”

  • “That racism stuff happened so long ago.”

Well, if you ever go to Atlanta—which you so should—you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t pay a visit to the Center for Human and Civil Rights, especially if you’ve ever thought or said any of those things above.

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I just got back from a trip to Atlanta myself, where I visited family, met some incredibly cool people and took an amazing class on the life of a voice over artist (more to come on that soon!).

But, I digress.

There was so much amazing Atlanta stuff, but checking out the Center for Human and Civil Rights was one of the most moving experiences I’ve had in a long time.

Nancy, my wonderful cousin/basically life coach, took me there after breakfast at Tiffany’s Ria’s Bluebird, voted number one pancakes in the US by NY times, (it lived up to the hype!).

As you walk into the gorgeous museum, you enter the first room on the ground floor, dedicated to the history of the Civil Rights Movement. We’ve all studied our country’s history–the good, the bad, the ugly and the unfathomable–through textbooks in school, but walking through an exhibit, watching videos, seeing the stories all around you, sitting at a lunch counter and experiencing through a simulation what those brave protestors experienced during the sit-ins in diners is an experience so powerful it’s beyond words.

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As you proceed further into the building, you enter another section, dedicated to human rights. In the United States, we’re fed the notion that we were all created equal, but that idea doesn’t translate from the written words on our nation’s documents into everyday life. And, to many worldwide, that concept is a myth, or ceases to exist altogether.

I consider myself generally well-informed about cultures around the world, but during my visit I learned just how little I truly know.

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Did you know countless women are subjected to harsh labor conditions and hundreds of pesticides to provide us with roses for Valentine’s Day?

I love a beautiful long-stem rose bouquet as much as the next girl, but isn’t there a way to have them without women dying to get them to us?

Or, what about all the countries around the world suffering under dictators and tyrants? We look back on a tragedy like the Holocaust and ask ourselves how people could have ever let that happen, believing, of course we’d do something to stop it now.

But what are we doing to stop any of the atrocities happening all around the world today?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow shows all parties at play when there is injustice.

Are you an upstander, a bystander or an enabler? A perpetrator or victim?

We all have a role in injustice, whether we like it or not. Simply staying silent, acting as a bystander, is almost as harmful as being the enabler or perpetrator.

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The yellow on the areas on the map above depicts free countries. The orange means the country is “semi-free” (aka still not free). And the red shows countries whose citizens know no freedom at all.

How can you possibly say we have reached a level of peace, of equality, of justice, of freedom and it is now time to stop fighting for these basic rights when there is so much red on that map?

By staying silent when there are those who are given no voice, we are not only taking our rights for granted, but neglecting our human responsibility to care for one another.

 

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I’m none of these and all of these all at once.

I’m not yet old, but I will be. I am a worker. I’m white. I am young. I was a child. I hope to become a mother someday.

The remaining labels may not resonate with me personally, but they are part of humanity. Other human beings, people who share my genetic makeup, people who feel, and think, and breathe and love, they are these things, and so I am these things. We may be many cultures, separated by mountains, oceans and arbitrary boarders with invisible lines, but at our core, we are human beings with hearts and souls.

Never forget about others. Stand up for humanity. Stand up for what’s right. Do not stay silent in the face of injustice, or quiet yourself in the face of opposition.

  • “We’ve come so far, what more do you want?”

  • “Just stop whining.”

  • “Why is there a women’s march when there’s already equality?”

  • “That racism stuff happened so long ago.”

There are still people who need help. There are people who crave freedom and whose basic human rights are stripped from them each day. So, no, I won’t be quiet. I won’t sit down.

No, this far is not far enough.

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