Friendly February Hopes – Equality

I dream of a world where Equality is as natural as breathing. Quite honestly, there’ve been many times this past year (and many more times during my life) where watching the inequality unfold around me, felt like a nightmare. It overwhelmed me, breaking my heart. I’m disgustedly perplexed by how one group of humans can behave so horribly to another group of humans – for no reason. All we have to do is look around us to see how treating people unequally ruins lives and futures for generations. Imagine how much misery we could erase if we treated each other equally.

It’s easy to hate from afar. We can hate and dismiss anyone we ‘think’ is different from us. It’s harder to hate someone whose story you know personally. Whenever possible, take the opportunity to talk with people and learn their story.

Black History Month was officially recognized in 1976. During this month, we often hear of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil War. My 4th great-grandfather fought in the Civil War. He died as a brave union soldier fighting for freedom. I learned about the Civil War in school. I didn’t learn about the period that followed. The time after the war was called the Reconstruction. The National Park Service describes Reconstruction as “one of the most complicated, poorly understood, and significant periods in American history.” I learned more about this event in American history from an NPR episode than I learned in high school or college.

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture has an exhibit entitled Make Good the Promises: Reconstruction and Its Legacies.

There are Peoples who have a long history in this land before it became the United States. Much of their story was erased as they were forced from their homes. I remember learning a little bit in school about the Trail of Tears. I didn’t realize that five nations – the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee, and Seminole – walked some 5,000 miles across portions of nine states. Approximately 100,000 people were forced from their lands in the southern states, and some 15,000 died.

In 1924, Native Americans were finally granted citizenship, and by 1962 were finally allowed to vote in all states. How crazy is that? The people originally living here were the last to gain citizenship and voting rights.

And lest we think the world has only gotten better concerning equality for women, consider this: in 1776 women in several eastern states had the right to vote. By 1807 that right was revoked. Between 1820-1830 women weren’t allowed to vote, own property, or earn an income. In 1851, men interrupted Sojourner Truth to stop her from speaking for women’s equality. Women in the United States had to fight for the right to be heard and to vote. That right wasn’t achieved until the 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920, guaranteeing all American women the right to vote.

All progress toward equality can be ripped away in an instant. Stay Vigilant!

Young women like Bessie Coleman should not have had to go to another country to get her pilot’s license in 1920, when her own country placed the word ‘Equal’ in its Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The air is the only place free from prejudices…” – Bessie Coleman

Bessie was an African American and Cherokee Woman. She took a French-language class in Chicago and then traveled to Paris on November 20, 1920, so she could earn her pilot license. American flight schools of the time admitted neither women nor black people.

Photos – from our trip to the San Diego Air & Space Museum. 2017

In my own life there have been many injustices, judgments, and assumptions made concerning who I am and what I’m capable of. As a girl, raised in poverty, in a huge, blended family filled with chaos, people often overlooked me, and assumed I had no future. (Except for my 4th grade teacher, she encouraged me to dream big. However, the visiting high school college counselor told me to lower my expectations.)

In colleges and places of employment, people have in various ways, told me ‘how nice it must have been for me to be raised in a sheltered Christian middle class family’. They assumed this about me from my behavior? Some were too focused on themselves to ask my story. When some did ask my story, their response was, ‘Oh we didn’t know you were like that’, and their behavior inappropriately devolved, as if being raised in dysfunctional poverty ‘naturally’ includes swearing and acting like eejits (Scot/Irish word for idiots).  

But my favorite people, asked my story, and then said, ‘You’ve had to do a lot of work.’ And they shared their story with me, and I found out they had done a lot of work also.

My very favorite person, my husband said, “How did you turn out so amazing?”

No one has the right to be a racist, sexist, bigoted bully.

Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to learn, work, and be heard.

Put everything you’ve ever been told about ‘other groups’ aside. Get to know people’s individual story, and be sure to give the proper response.

~Dream, Believe, Achieve~

10 thoughts on “Friendly February Hopes – Equality

  1. The whole “us” versus “them” mentality is terrible. At the end of the day we are all humans and our differences should be celebrated as that’s what makes us stronger. They allow us to experience different cultures, experiences, and perspectives. It breaks my heart when those differences are instead used to divide us or take advantage of another group of people. Everyone is dealt a different hand in life, but we should all be given the same opportunity and respect. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I agree with your husband, you are amazing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I absolutely love your comment! You are totally right, our differences should be celebrated because they can make us stronger. I’ve never understood the mentality of ‘us’ versus ‘them’. It seems like such ‘small’ thinking. If we all behaved better, a lot of misery would simply disappear.
      My husband is the one that’s amazing. He’s a very quiet man, and there’s just ‘something’ naturally good about him…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank-you Cheryl for your kind comment. ❤️ I have to remind myself that humans naturally make assumptions, and I’m hoping that I’m getting better at catching my own assumptions and misconceptions. I try to look beyond one conversation, to see the person more fully, in the same way I want to be seen as more than one interaction.

      Liked by 1 person

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