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Human Rights Lesson from the Murder of Trayvon Martin.

March 30, 2012 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Thought of the Gay

While there may be much debate around the circumstances involved in the murder of Trayvon Martin, one thing is now for certain: Racism is still alive and well in the United States.  One has to look no further than comments on news articles relating to the murder or online forums to find such fabulous tidbits as this:

But really, who is surprised? Go ahead and pick an article or forum for yourself and I’m sure you will find similar commentary.

The right-wing majority in this county has been waging war against any non-white, non-christian, non-heterosexual, non-cisgendermale person since the birth of the United States.  Blacks, Asians, Latinos, Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgender People, Women and more have been wrongfully imprisoned, brutalized and made to fear what will happen if they rock the boat.  In spite of this commonality, those oppressed by the system are entirely failing to unite.

I originally believed this was the result of having been ostracized into our own communities for so long, that joining forces was something else to fear.  Will the Latinos push forward without meWill the “LGB” sell out the “T” againWill Black men stand-up for the ERA?

One anti-human rights organization recognizes that uniting our voices would put a crushing end to their ability to continue to degrade, belittle and intimidate our communities. Recently released Court Documents illustrate that the National Organization for Marriage [NOM] (a voice in opposition to marriage equality), has a TWENTY MILLION DOLLAR plan to make sure the “gays and blacks” remain divided.  According to NOM’s $20 Million Strategy for Victory:

The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks – two key democratic constituencies. We aim to find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; to develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; and to provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party.

Sadly, even before NOM’s $20 million budget, the plan has been successful.  In fact, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s youngest daughter lit a torch at her father’s tomb to kick off an anti-human rights campaign to prevent marriage equality for LGBT people in 2005.  The purpose was to dehumanize LGBT people so that “human rights” and “civil rights” would not be associated with the apparently “inhuman” gays.  Sound familiar?

I Am Man- Withers

I Am Man - Withers

Of course, Coretta Scott King and many of Dr. King’s children disagree, invoking the teachings of Dr. King to show the need for equality and “tolerance” of LGBT people.

But a similar battle plays out between women, Latino groups and labor unions.  Perhaps the most glaringly obvious division is marked annually with the Cesar E. Chavez March for Justice.  Cesar Chavez was a labor leader and civil rights activist who fought for better working conditions for farm workers.  He, along with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association.  After his death, he became an icon for the Latino community.  While city streets and statewide holidays rightfully celebrate Chavez’s work, Dolores Huerta is all but ignored in spite of her significant contribution.

Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed.  You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read.  You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride.  You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. — Cesar Chavez

Currently, a similar wedge exists between Latino Community leaders and the LGBT community.  In fact, the founder of the San Antonio Cesar E. Chavez March for Justice, Jaime P. Martinez, is alleged to have provided no assistance in fighting for hate crimes charges against the murderer of his son, Troy Martinez Clattenburg , in spite of his position as a civil rights leader in the Latino Community.

It is not enough for us to claim to support human rights when the rights we purport to support are not across the board.  Gay rights, Transgender Rights, Immigrant Rights, Worker’s Rights, Women’s Rights, etc., should be based solely on our status as human beings.   As Hillary Clinton said in recognition of Human Rights Day:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. And with the declaration, it was made clear that rights are not conferred by government; they are the birthright of all people. It does not matter what country we live in, who our leaders are, or even who we are. Because we are human, we therefore have rights. And because we have rights, governments are bound to protect them.

Texas Democratic Executive Committee Gambles Away Human Rights

November 22, 2011 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination

David Trevino stifles his anger long enough to smile for the camera.

From protest of ousted Bexar County DP Chair, Dan Ramos.

The Texas State Democratic Party bowed to fear this past week when the Executive Committee met to vote on proposed primary ballot referendum.  In a move that silenced one of the most staunch populaces aligned with the Democratic Party, the LGBTQ community, Texas Democrats voted 33-22 to exclude a marriage equality referendum on the 2012 Democratic Primary ballot.  However, legalizing gambling will be on the ballot.

According to a press release received from Dan Graney, President of the Texas Stonewall Democrats, arguments against including the marriage equality measure were:

  1. The Republicans will go after us on this.
  2. This will negatively impact on our Democratic candidates.
  3. What if the measure should fail?

As to the first argument, the Republicans are going after the Democrats anyway.  All that was accomplished by excluding even a chance for marriage equality in Texas was that Democrats were silenced and we will now see Democrats going after Democrats in Texas for their blatant disregard for their own party platform, which states:

Democrats believe that we all have a part to play in promoting equality and protecting Americans against discrimination, and we continue to work vigorously toward greater freedom and equality in America.

Working vigorously toward greater freedom apparently means bowing to political pressure, fear and intimidation, as is noted by the second opposition view that supporting freedom and equality will negatively affect Democratic candidates.  In this instance, the lack of integrity and moxy will do more to negatively impact candidates than standing up for your party values EVER would have.

Perhaps the most disturbing argument presented in keeping marriage equality off of the primary ballot is the argument, “What if the measure should fail?”  For that, I turn to other thinkers and provide the following motivational quotes:

“The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try nothing and succeed” – Lloyd Jones

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” – Unknown

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

“Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.” Stephen Kaqqwa

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” – Dale Carnegie

“The worst thing one can do is not to try, to be aware of what one wants and not give in to it, to spend years in silent hurt wondering if something could have materialized – and never knowing” – David Vicsott

“I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed: and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying.” – Tom Hopkins

“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” – Beverly Sills

“There is no comparison between that which is lost by not succeeding and that lost by not trying.” – Francis Bacon, Sr.

Try as I might, I was unable to find any motivational quotes encouraging people not to try.  However, I was able to find a quote by an unknown person that sums up my feelings toward the Texas Democratic Party:

Fuck you for giving up on me.

National Organization for Protection of Marriage to Request Ban on Obese Marriages.

January 15, 2011 By: jaysays Category: Camp Gay, Featured

The National Organization for Protection of Marriage has begun soliciting signatures to convince legislators in all 50 states to ban obese people from marrying. Maggie Gaylaher, the Founder of the group, notes that obesity is the leading cause of heart disease, diabetes and other ailments and thus premature death.

“Children deserve a mother and a father. If either or both are obese, it’s more likely that those children will wind up in a single parent environment and destroy the traditional family,” she said.

Ms. Gaylaher further argues that genetics will predispose the children to obesity, adding a further burden to our already strained health care system.

“This is not what traditional families should look or be like,” she says. “First is obesity, then single parent families. We must put an end to it now before it’s too late.”

So far the group has obtained two signatures, that of Ms. Gaylaher and her husband. 

“Obesity is an epidemic. Society and our schools are  teaching our children that it’s okay to be fat.  This has made it difficult to gain support. Gluttony is a perversion of the laws of nature and a sin according to God.  It should not be accepted or taught in our classrooms.”

Opponents of the proposal from the Human Obesity Campaign released a statement declaring the proposal absurd. Joe Solmaneate, the HOC President told jaysays.com in an exclusive interview, “Over the course of this campaign we will be fighting back. On March 4th, the Human Obesity Campaign will protest this disgusting bid by holding our annual fundraiser, Eat for Equality.”

/snark.

A Reminder To Myself: Human Rights Include Everyone.

July 28, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Atheists for JesusI’ve been reading through a Homophobia and Religion Forum on thinkatheist.com, and felt the need to jot out my thoughts least I forget them – perhaps I’ll need this reference point in the future, although I hope I won’t.

I’m gay, an atheist, and the grandson of a Church of God minister who, in the 40’s/50’s, preached that black people didn’t have souls. It was the Curse of Ham – they weren’t human, were sexually provocative, degraded the good christian society, etc. etc. I remember hearing all of this as a child and thankfully, never bought into it. It made no sense to me.

I also remember talk of the “juke joints” and the sexually provocative nature of those establishments, which later came to represent (at least to those that wished to degrade a segment of the population for their own egotistical purposes) the entire community.

When I tell people about how I was taught to look at black people as a child, they are shocked. Obviously, I don’t feel the same way as my ancestors, although I admit that my understanding of “Black Man 101” is limited by my perceived “whiteness.”

What will we teach our children next? Who will be the next evil doer? Who will be the next class of people to make us feel better about our own failings and desires. Who will we choose to hate next? Muslims perhaps?

I already see a trend now. I regret I’ve even been guilty of it on occasion. We are bashing all those that are “Christian.” We generalize them – they are all Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and *God Forbid* Fred Phelps. Christian is becoming synonymous with “hate” and it is because of a vocal minority within Christianity. I may never understand why people believe in the great puppeteer, but they do. They exist as I exist and for that reason alone, I should defend the group, not attack them.

Perhaps its human nature to need some group of people to belittle. Perhaps its a mechanism designed to protect our own fragile sense of worth. I don’t know. I do hope though, that I will be smart enough, wise enough and kind enough to recognize when it is happening to someone else, and that I will remain strong enough to step forward on their behalf. If I fail, then may I be reminded of all those heroic straight allies who have come to my side to defend my rights and find inspiration in their strength.  I guess I really am an atheist for Jesus.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: Straight Ally? Wear Blue. It’s What You Can Do.

July 19, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

LGBT Lessons blueAre you straight? Do you have straight friends and family? Send ’em to me, the straight girl blogging on a gay man’s website. I want to have a little chat with straight people. I’m here to recruit you. I’m here to turn you blue.

Over Independence Day, jaysays had a poll. What could help move gay rights forward? Was it scientific? No. Did we get thousands of responses? No. Still, one of the top thoughts was enlisting more straight allies. What could we do? We came up with blue.

I believe there are a lot of straight people out there who support rights for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people. But you, the straight folks, aren’t sure what to do. Maybe you think you are not welcome in this movement.  When a referendum comes around, you vote. You may have other causes that you are dedicated to. Or – it never occurred to you that your voice could help.

My straight friends. Your voices can help. There’s no place like the Internet to show your true colors. To stand up for your beliefs. Doing the right thing has never been easier.

We noticed the amazing response on Twitter when folks turned their images green to support Iran. The idea spread like wildfire. I was reminded of when the Nazi’s went into Denmark. They demanded that the Jews wear an armband with a Star of David. The good people of Denmark protested by wearing the same armbands. Now everyone is Jewish. Brilliant idea. The Nazi’s? Eventually, they gave up. People on Twitter identified themselves as being from Iran. Amazing how human compassion works, isn’t it?

Hmm.  Can I, one person, get straight people to show their support for LGBT rights? I needed a simple idea. I contacted Blue4Equality and they responded with an enthusiastic yes. Their idea is a simple one. Put a blue light in your window to show your support for gay rights. Well, on the Internet, our images, our icons, our avatar’s are our own personal window. I liked it. We all know that a rainbow is the symbol for LGBT rights and pride. Why not use blue as an metaphor of straight supporters? After all, together, we can reach the sky. And it just happens to be blue.

Make a simple statement about your values. Go blue. Shade your image blue, take a photo of yourself against a beautiful blue sky,  put on a blue bow, a blue ribbon, a blue shirt, a blue hat, color your hair blue. Use your imagination. Write a limerick or a poem. Tell us, here at jaysays, why you support gay rights. You don’t need to donate money, go to a march or even reveal your real name. Stand up straight for what you believe in. Support equal rights for all people.

Editor’s Note: As a young gay man, I often felt very isolated and alone.  After coming out of the closet, I quickly learned who were my “true friends” and who were convenient friends.  Many of my straight friends abandoned ship.  In fact, one of them told me, “Gays are like cockroaches, you don’t know why, but you just want to step on them.”  Obvioiusly, it was a crushing moment for me, and I began believing that there were no straight people that could be trusted – all of them would prefer to step on me.  I’m happy to say that, after many many years, I’ve learned that there are numerous straight allies; however, many of them don’t know how to show their support of the LGBT community.

Jude, a straight ally, started bouncing ideas around via emails and, with the help of another vocal and steadfast straight ally, Jane Wishon, blue was born.  Jane also sells straight ally merchandise on her cafe press site to help bring awareness about the inequalities faced by LGBT people. She has also graciously offered to help people go blue – the color of the sky that holds the rainbow.  She can be reached via twitter.

If you prefer not to go blue, but still want to show your support for human rights, you can download one from here. Simply right click the icon of your choice and save it to your computer.  You can then upload the icon to any website where you wish to show your support:

rainbowally straight ally 1

straightally BLUE

Gays aren’t the only people that come out – and the more straight allies that come forward, the more visibility, support and safety we will find.  Together, we can build a better future for all people.

SCLC Works to Overcome Oppression in Order to be Oppressive

July 17, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

SCLCAsk just about anyone on the street if they support civil rights and they will likely say yes, but ask specific questions and you’ll hear a wide variety of responses.

Rev. Eric P. Lee, the President of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Council (“SCLC”) has come under fire by members of the purported civil rights organization.  The scrutiny isn’t because Rev. Lee is against civil equality, which would be expected from a so-called civil rights organization, but instead, because he supports civil equality.

The SCLC was formed in the late 50’s in response to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  The group, popularized by Martin Luther King, Jr., has been a leadership organization for civil rights for decades.  Their work has inspired my own admiration, until now.  Unfortunately, SCLC national leaders and many members don’t seem to believe in civil equality for all people.  In fact, many members of the SCLC have called for the resignation of Rev. Lee because of his vision of a fully equal America.  National leaders of the SCLC  went as far as to summon Lee to Atlanta and advised him that, if he failed to show, he would be suspended.  Lee did not show because he couldn’t afford a last minute trip, but he did advise the group that he could appear via telephone.  The group did not respond to that offer, but did send a warning to Lee when he didn’t show advising him to reschedule the meeting and appear in person or face removal from the SCLC.

Because of the Southern Christian Leadership Council’s mostly silent and dismissive stance on gay rights, it is clear that they are no longer a civil rights organization.  I civil rights organization would align itself with ALL human rights issues in order to secure dignity, fair treatment and equality under the law for everyone.  Instead, they are becoming the very people they once stood against.  They have become the oppressors.

Rev. Lee has stated publicly:

Any time you deny one group of people the rights and privileges that other groups enjoy, it is fundamentally and unequivocally a denial of their civil rights.

Obviously, he gets it.  Perhaps instead of a suspension, members of the SCLC should promote Rev. Lee to a national position – since he is truly a civil rights leader.

Related Links:

Los Angeles Times | Civil rights group threatens to fire local leader for gay marriage endorsement.

CQ Politics | Gay Marriage: What Would King Do?.

rainbowzine.com | SCLC and Marriage Equality.

The Gaytheist Agenda | Reverend Eric P. Lee Threatened With Firing over Same-Sex Marriage Endorsement.

It’s Independence Gay: Time for a Gay Rights Survey.

July 04, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Community Outreach, Featured

independence gayOn this Independence Day, it may surprise you to learn that our founding fathers were not unified in their opinions, which ranged from, should we even secede from Britain to how would religion and slavery be incorporated into this new country. There were many compromises in order to reach a signed Declaration of Independence.

Since the passage of Proposition 8 in California and the release of the movie Milk, LGBT activists have realized that silence and politeness will not advance their rights. The blogosphere, Twitter and gay news websites are filled with ideas, opinions and even arguments over what is the best strategy for the gay community to move forward. In a way, this is the American Revolution repeating itself. The goal may not be to form a new country. But it is to form a country with equal rights for all.

We at jaysays.com would like to know your thoughts on what will bring the LGBT movement forward. Remember, we want to know what strategy you think will work, not your dream. We invite you to take a few minutes to take our polls. Polls will close at Monday, July 6th, 2009. We’ll report the results next week.

[poll id=”10″] [poll id=”9″] [poll id=”11″] [poll id=”12″] [poll id=”13″] [poll id=”14″] [poll id=”15″]

Please feel free to discuss your opinions in the comments and/or email us with your thoughts.

A Texas Style Stonewall Brings LGBT Attention.

July 03, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Stonewall, Texas StyleSo many conflicting stories are floating around about what happened at the Rainbow Lounge.  A lot of attention has been placed on the injury to Chad Gibson.  Some say that it constitutes police brutality.  While it very well may does, police had gone too far before well before Chad was injured.

Josh Taylor and his friend Dylan had been at the bar that evening for about an hour.  Josh was on his third drink when the raid began.  Officers entered the VIP lounge and arrested Dylan first.  Josh stopped one of the officers and asked why they were arresting his friend.  The officer pointed at Josh and said, “P.I.”  Josh was then taken into custody.

Did you know Police and TABC officers can arrest on suspicion of public intoxication?  Not only were sobriety tests not performed, but they are not required for the arrest.  This is more than a “gay issue,” this is a human rights issue.

Further, I asked Josh directly whether he, or anyone else to his knowledge, groped or otherwise made sexual gestures at police.  As suspected, Josh answered that he saw no one perform anything as such.

That seems consistent with other reports from witnesses.  Seems no one at Rainbow Lounge that night, except for the TABC officers and Ft. Worth Police Department,  saw any such gesturing or groping.  But why then would the police claim they were groped?

The Gay Panic Defense.  Perhaps the most ridiculous, yet successful, defense for beating or murdering gays yet.  The defense was first used by Jonathan Schmitz for killing Scott Amedure after Scott declared his love for Jonathan on The Jenny Jones Show.

The murders of Matthew Shepard initially claimed this as their defense.  However, in Wyoming, the Judge ruled such a defense constitutes either “a temporary insanity defense or a diminished capacity defense,” both of which are bared under Wyoming Law.  Not the case in Texas where a good ole boy can claim “self defense” for a killing a gay man for coming onto him and a jury would acquit the guy.

However, in this instance a nation of voices has said “ENOUGH” to Texas.  Calls and letters and questions came in from around the nation.  The result? The Ft. Worth Mayor has requested that the Federal Government monitor the investigation into the allegations against the Ft. Worth Police Department and the Police Chief, Jeff Halstead, has suspended bar raids in collaboration with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (“TABC”).

In spite of this progress, there is more work to be done.  While the TABC has indicated they are investigating the allegations and that they have placed the agents involved on the day shift (desk duty) they have not yet requested any oversight by the federal government.  Thus, there is still reason for us to stand together as a nation.  Help this Texan out.  Please contact Senators and Representatives in Texas, the TABC and Texas U.S. Representatives and Senators.  Demand federal oversight of the TABC investigation, demand state policy changes, protect human rights.  Together, we can build a safer Texas for ALL people.

Who Are the Victims of Hate Crimes?

June 04, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Hate Crimes, LGBT News

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, Hate Crimes Statistics for 2007 is likely the most reliable report available to answer the question “Who is Hurt by a ‘Hate Crime?’  Regrettably, the FBI data even admits that:

  • During 2007, 13,241 law enforcement agencies participated in the UCR Program’s hate crime data collection. Agencies provided 1 to 12 months of data about bias motivated crime, and of those agencies, 2,025 (15.3 percent) reported 7,624 incidents.
  • The remaining 84.7 percent of the participating agencies reported that no hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions.

It’s obvious by these statistics that the report was lacking in complete information; however, a remarkably high number [approximately 21 per day] were reported in the remaining 15.3% of reporting jurisdictions.

The report indicated that over half of the hate crimes reported were based upon a person’s race, followed by religion with sexual orientation coming in 3rd:

Hate Crimes Chart

The report goes a step further and breaks down the number of reported hate crimes by subcategory within each bias area.  For example, the hate crime victim group with the most reported crimes is the “Race” category.  Perhaps not surprisingly, anti-black hate crimes topped the group with 68% of hate crimes being committed against “blacks” (2,658 incidents).  However, what may surprise you is that white people were “runner-up” with 19% (749 incidents) of the reported hate crimes in the Race category.

2007 Hate Crimes – Race Category:

Hate Crimes Chart - Race

The category with the second most hate crimes reported is “Religion.”  As with race, the report breaks down hate crimes based upon which religion was assaulted.

2007 Hate Crimes – Religion Category:

Hate Crimes Chart - Religion

These statistic tend to evidence what we should already know, antisemitism is still alarmingly prevalent in the U.S.  In fact, crimes against the Jewish community outnumbered all other reported crimes in the category of religion – meaning that, if you total all other crimes against religions other than Jewish, they still don’t number as many as those against people of the Jewish faith.

The report breaks sexual orientation down into the following categories:

  • Anti-Male Homosexual
  • Anti-Female Homosexual
  • Anti-Homosexual [generally]
  • Anti-Heterosexual
  • Anti-Bisexual

It’s important to note that the report only includes three sexual orientations (lumping homosexual into one group rather than three).  The reason this notation is so important is because religious groups and those opposed to hate crimes legislation have argued that there are hundreds of sexual orientations, including pedophilia.  Well, here’s your government sanctioned version of what sexual orientation is: Homosexual, Heterosexual, Bisexual.

Out of the 1,265 reported hate crimes against people based upon sexual orientation, 1,221 were against homosexuals, 22 against bisexuals and 22 against heterosexuals. Notably absent in the report were crimes committed against individuals based upon gender identity.

Further, 1,007 hate crimes were reported based upon Ethnicity/National Origin and 79 hate crimes were reported against the disabled.

It is obvious from the report that hate crimes legislation is all inclusive, white, black, gay, straight, Muslim, Christian, Jewish and disabled.  Because we can all be victimized by these crimes, we should all support the passing of such legislation.  Hate crimes legislation is not just a gay issue, it’s a human issue.

This Week in Racism

March 06, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

This week has resulted in my being startled by very vocal, racist remarks.  On Monday, a very dear friend of mine was the victim of such vocal racism.  While riding in an elevator with an older woman and a young girl, my friend was called a “gook.”  This term was not used in anger against my friend, but was sharp and jarring none-the-less.  The older lady in the elevator turned to the young girl and matter of fact-ly stated (while pointing at my friend), “That is a gook.”  Out of shock, my friend did not respond.  She told me it was the first time in her life she can recall someone using that term in her presence to reference her directly.

Two days later I was at a gas station filling up my car in San Antonio, Texas.  Although I do not live in San Antonio any longer, I was raised in the city and have always found it to be a very welcoming city for minorities, particularly Hispanics as they are a huge portion of the overall population.  On the opposite side of the pump from me was a black male.  A young Hispanic woman was across from me.  The black male went inside the store and when returning to his vehicle called the young Hispanic woman “stupid.”  That’s what caught my attention and I looked over in their direction.  The woman did not respond and just continued pumping her gas.  As the man walked away mumbling at the woman pumping gas, another Hispanic woman yelled to him, “Just leave her alone.”  He responded by shouting, “Go back to Mexico.”  I was dumbfounded and found myself staring blankly at the Hispanic woman, unable to form words.  She then responded, “I could tell you to go back to where you came from too,” or something to that effect.  The black man simply repeated himself more loudly, “Go back to Mexico.”

Today, I was listening to NPR and a black man (as he indicated) was discussing immigrants in his town and the jobs they have taken from the residents there.  He began his sentence with, “I don’t mean for this comment to sound racist.”  At that point, I knew he was about to say something extremely racist.  He did not disappoint, “If you’ve ever seen a house overrun with cockroaches…” thus he began, “… watch them come out of the building, there isn’t one white person or black man coming out of that building, they are all Mexicans.”  Interestingly, they interviewed one of the workers who was not “Mexican” but “Guatemalan.”

His comment reminded me of a comment I received in my youth from someone I considered to be my best friend.  I was going through the coming out process and thought I would gauge his feelings about homosexuals before telling him affirmatively that I was a homosexual.  I mentioned gay people and he said, “I don’t like them.”  I inquired as to why and he said, “They are like cockroaches, anytime I see one I want to step on them.”

Yes, we’ve come a long way in the battle for civil equality for ALL people, but there are miles and miles to go.  We must continue to educate each other that ALL people are human, ALL life is valuable and fragile and our words have power.  We must stop teaching our children that Asians are gooks, immigrants and homosexuals are cockroaches and that Americans should “Go back to where they came from.”  These are the values we are teaching our children and the values they will teach their children in turn.  Unlearning racism is a daunting process, one which I myself struggled with due to my upbringing and continue to try to evolve away from.  Somehow, we must overcome this disease.