We are witnessing history in the making. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling on gay marriage within the next few weeks, there are a growing number of states electing to allow gay marriage, and recently the Boy Scouts of America voted to accept openly gay kids into their organization.
We are witnessing change as it happens, but there is still a long way to go. Despite allowing gay children to participate, the Boy Scouts opted to continue their ban on the participation of LGBT adults as leaders. A victory coupled with a disappointment, but that should not devalue the progress that’s been made. The victories should be celebrated as baby steps on the road to equality.
Although I am overjoyed by the progress toward equality for all, it is a seemingly never-ending battle. I was given pause this week to reflect on a couple of other cases where the pursuit for equality continues.
In this first case let’s take a look at African Americans. General Mills recently released a Cheerios advertisement, which featured a family that happened to be interracial. What should have been just another promotion in the world of advertising became an outlet for racist comments by cowards hiding behind their computers espousing their hate. Although I’ve never truly witnessed the world of prejudice as closely as I do now living in the U.S., I am appalled at how virulent that prejudice and hatred seems to be. Despite interracial marriages being fully legalized in the U.S. by the Supreme Court in 1967 – and emancipation having been granted a century before – the ongoing hatred by some against the black community has sadly not disappeared.
Another case in point as it relates to women. A recent Pew study reported that women are increasingly becoming the primary breadwinners in the family unit. Fox News’ Megyn Kelly challenged some previous comments made on this topic by her colleagues Lou Dobbs and Erick Erickson. Erickson was particularly outspoken on the issue saying that women were hurting the family unit by working, and blamed feminism for the roles of men and women “being interchangeable.” In other words: equal. He also tried to draw – what he called “scientific” – parallels to male dominance throughout the animal kingdom. Although I don’t think much of Fox News, I do think Kelly said it best, “What makes you dominant and me submissive, and who died and made you scientist-in chief?” Despite many strides toward equality, women are still viewed as secondary to some.
These are all separate battles with different nuances, but in essence they are all the same fight – the fight to be treated equally. In all of these cases, despite strides having been made, the battles have not ended and sadly – in some cases – bred even more fights and more prejudice. Whether it is ten years or one hundred, hate and prejudice still exist.
This past week a GOP congresswoman Marsha Blackburn remarked that “women don’t want equal pay laws.” Although that may sound outrageous to some, I totally agree with her. We don’t want them…but we need them. I would prefer that all people receive equal pay for equal work, period. But the sad reality is, sometimes you have to pass legislation to ensure everyone is doing the right thing. Of course this is absurd, but so is having to legislate that murder is wrong.
At the end of the day – although governments may try to legislate equality – the sad fact is you can’t legislate the hate out of people.
If we are to find true equality we must remember where we all come from, and be aware of everyone’s struggles beyond our own. While recognizing our common ground we must remember our histories, but also be willing to let go of the hate that’s sometimes tied to those histories.
If we don’t, we will become those who we never wanted to be…and true equality will remain but a dream.
– Erin Drushel