Every year, it seems like the months go faster and faster. I don’t know if that’s just because every year, I’m a little older, or if it’s because time really does move faster. Either way, I’m glad, from a social justice perspective, that 2014 is finished.
I learned this year that time is a social construct, and that no matter how modern we are when it comes to cars, homes, and electronics, we’re still fighting the same old social justice issues, year after year. I yell a lot about social justice issues on this blog, but the fact is, I’m not doing enough of it. My resolution this year is to do better – and I think it should be the world’s resolution, too.
2014 was a hard year. We lost countless young black men to police brutality. We lost teenagers, notably 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn, to murder by proxy – a phenomenon that forces people to end their lives to get away from the insidious, horrific culture that makes it impossible for them to survive, let alone by happy. We saw choice given and choices taken away from women and from LGBT people. We saw misogyny run wild in #GamerGate. It was a rough year, folks.
The pain that we as oppressed people feel doesn’t have a time limit. The pain that we as allies fight against doesn’t care about what year it is. It’s always there. It’s always something we need to fight against. And it’s not about elevating oppressed people above the rest of the world. Just because we say #BlackLivesMatter, or #TransLivesMatter, doesn’t mean we don’t think that #AllLivesMatter. Because all lives DO matter. This is why we fight so hard. This is why in 2015, our resolution as a global society needs to be to do better.
Do better when it comes to understanding. Instead of defensiveness, react with empathy. Instead of finding examples to disprove the person’s point, listen. Ask questions. Do research. Become more educated in matters of social justice so that you can become part of the fight against inequality. Don’t hate the person delivering the message – hate what the message means, and work to change it so that we can all have a safer, better world.
Do better when it comes to support. Reach out to those in pain. Erase stigma when it comes to mental illness. Don’t make it about you. Really discover the tenets of the religion you believe in – most religions, at the core, are about love. Extend love to those you don’t understand, and make them feel included and safe. I hope one day we will hear of no more suicide. Until then, react with kindness and try to include everyone so that they don’t feel utterly alone.
Do better when it comes to representation. Watch movies by marginalized directors. Support people of colour in the arts, music, and technology. Hire more women. Choose to consume media that includes people of different body sizes and nationalities. Don’t appropriate marginalized culture – especially when it comes to Halloween. Instead, choose to buy art and goods from people who actually own the culture. It’s okay to wear a pair of moccasins – but you’re supporting more than just the person when you buy them from a Native artisan.
Do better when it comes to the fight. Feminism includes every woman – transwomen, women of colour, and disabled women. Equality includes everyone. Listen to experiences and learn from them. Let others speak so that their voices are heard, too.
Time is a social construct, but equality is something that is ongoing. This year, resolve to do better. Resolve to be a person who stands for everyone, who stands for the right of every person to live a safe life with equal opportunity.
Maybe it will happen in the year 2015. Maybe it will take longer. But if we continue to fight – it will happen, even if we can’t mark it on the calendar.