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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Human Rights: Choosing Love Over Hate

Hate reared its ugly head this past week in my hometown of Jackson, Mississippi.
Scrawled in ugly graffitti, a slur against gays and the suggestion to "kill them".
Here in 2015?
Kill them? Excuse me?
This is wrong and never acceptable, and I want to make sure that everyone I know understands that this kind of behavior is deplorable and that I, Erica Robinson, will speak out and actively move against this kind of hate-mongering to prevent it from happening, or spreading, in my town. Count me as one of them, for I will not be treated, nor treat anyone differently than I should want to be treated. No one should ever have to fear for their life, or their safety, based on their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. No one. Threatening, or treating as an inferior, another human being because they are different than you -- or because you disagree with their choices-- is wrong behavior on your/our part. It is unacceptable. We all get to make choices: that is a part of being free.  No kid (or adult) should be kicked out of their home or humiliated/bullied at school or elsewhere.
Everyone deserves equal respect as a basic human right. Ignoring or "pretending it isn't happening" when you/we see or bear witness to bigoted actions, such a bullying or shaming, makes you/me complicit in those actions, whether we agree with the person or not. For me, as of today, I will be a person brave enough to say, "No" when an insult or joke or hate-filled slur is made. It is someone's life. Someone's dignity. They matter, just like you matter. Like I matter.
This week, we see the world reacting in horror to the case of Raif Badawi, who has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes (and has had the first portion of his punishment already meted out in public). Amnesty International has taken up his cause, and the U.N. commissioner for human rights, Prince Zeid Al-Hussein calls the sentence "cruel and inhuman punishment". ISIS and other terrorists routinely use "KILL THEM" as a way to control and breed fear. Bullying, beatings, discrimination, murders, intolerance: those things get there start from hateful words.
Those hateful words must stop.
We are Mississippians. Americans.
I choose love over hate in all my thoughts and actions. Love conquers hate.
Be brave enough to stand up, like me, against hateful behavior.
Today, I signed the "Equality is our Business Pledge" on the Human Rights Campaign's website. I may not have been here in Jackson for the Civil Rights Movement back in the 1960s, but baby, I am here now: this is my town and hate is unwelcome here. Let's get some buckets of paint and head down to Lemon Street.
As ever,
~e