To all of my friends: Whenever I see your posts speaking out against another person’s race, gender, nationality, class, social status, sexual identity, citizenship status, political affiliation, etc., I ask myself, “When will he or she come after me, my friends, or my family because I’m/we’re different?”
I grew up with bullies, bigots, and racists, with hatred and violence, perhaps not as much as some, but more than most people I now know.
I was picked on because I was an overweight, socially awkward nerd. My friends were (are) Jewish, Asian, black (they did not identify as African Americans – several were actually first or second generation Trinidadian-Americans – but as black), skaters, punks, nerds, gamers, etc. We all got along like brothers. By that, I mean we loved, respected, and fought with and for each other.
Our differences brought us together, especially against the bullies, bigots, and racists we were surrounded by. We had an amazing childhood, as far as I’m concerned, and our bonds were strengthened by the persecution and small-mindedness around us.
What I see now on social media feeds are people who want to divide us, who celebrate and justify hatred for those who are different, and who think that they are exempt from the same thing eventually happening to them.
If I call you my friend, you are someone who is more interested in who someone is not what (race, nationality, gender, sexual or political identity, etc) someone is. If you want to divide us based on these differences, know that I too am ‘different,’ my family is ‘different,’ and my friends are ‘different.’ That makes me your enemy.
I still love and accept you, but know that I see you and I ask myself: “When will he or she come after me, my friends, or my family because I’m/we’re different?”