a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

The Curse of Standing By

Posted on: October 16, 2012

I’m straight. Gay rights don’t matter to me.

I’m white. The rights of people of color don’t apply to me.

I practice abstinence. Abortion doesn’t apply to me.

I’m an American, the rights of undocumented immigrants don’t concern my family.

I’m upper-middle class, the rights of the poor don’t concern me.

I’m a Jew, Christian and Muslim causes don’t relate to my life experience.

I’m a man, women’s health and reproductive rights aren’t my priority.

I have yet to get through this video without crying. Not only because I’m a gay woman, but because I’m a woman of color and a Jewish woman.

Hatred is hatred is hatred.

It doesn’t matter whether it comes in the form of homophobia, Islamaphobia, racism, or antiSemitism. It’s all hate and to stand aside and watch it happen is probably the worst thing a person can do.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Imagine not being able to visit your sick or dying partner. Now imagine that you need to make a decision about that partner, except that you cannot.

Imagine not being able to travel to certain states with your family. This would mean that in order to visit grampie and grannie you have to carefully map out your route and if  you drive through the wrong state your children could be taken away from you.

Imagine laws preventing you from drinking from a water fountain, entering a diner, or sitting where you chose on a bus.

Imagine prepping for the college application  process and realizing that because of your immigrant status you may be ineligible to apply.

Imagine not being able to marry the person that you love.

Imagine not being admitted to school because you’re a Jew.

Imagine not being able to live your life fully with happiness.

Imagine being beaten by the police hired to protect you.

Imagine not being able to vote because you’re a woman.

Imagine not being able to vote because you’re black.

History reminds us that horrific atrocities have faced groups of people. Native Amercians, Black Americans, Jews and other “minority” groups have all been victim to crimes of hate in this country and around the globe. Horrible crimes were committed in the name of normalcy, religion, and peoplehood. It’s 2012 and I’m shocked that people who I consider friends (former friends) are blind to bigotry before our very eyes simply because “it doesn’t apply to me.”

It was this same mindset that allowed Hitler to take over Europe, the same mindset that allowed slavery to be the norm in the United States and Caribbean, the same mindset that allows tens of thousands of Sudanese immigrants to be jailed in Israel, the same mindset that allowed apartheid to exist for as long as it did in South Africa, the same mindset that allows mosques to be fire bombed, the same mindset that turns a blind eye to the genocide that still exists in our world.

If it’s not in your back yard it doesn’t matter? If the issues don’t effect you, they’re not really issues?!

I’m not a Muslim, but I know that it’s wrong to treat people with hostility and violence simply because of their religion. I’m not an undocumented immigrant, but I know it’s wrong to deny people rights to education and government resources. I’ve never had or needed an abortion, but I wouldn’t consider taking away another woman’s right to this procedure.

As Jews we need only think back a half century and if we can’t see how denying equal rights to gays, people of color, undocumented immigrants or Muslims isn’t the same as the Nazi’s stripping the rights away from Jews parallels then, I’m sorry, those people died in vain. This isn’t about comparing numbers, it’s not about deciding which ugly piece of time in modern history was more horrible than other ugly piece of time. It’s about our commitment to “never forget.” It’s realizing the basics of what’s right and what’s wrong.

In 2008 I was concerned about the state of our country. I was worried that a McCain/Palin ticket would mean the end of who I am as a black, gay, Jewish woman. Now in 2012 I’m terrified. We’ve come so far and we’ve made so much progress, but with one change it can all be taken away. Over time we’ve amended the constitution to allow black people the right to citizenship, Native Americans and Asian Americans. We’ve amended the constitution to allow women the right to vote, to desegregate schools in the south and Romney wants to amend the constitution to prevent people who love one another from marrying simply because they’re not heterosexual? That’s a priority? He’d retract the Dream Act and send children brought to the country by parents seeking a better life back to countries they’ve never known. The list goes on and on and the thing is-this isn’t1883, 1896,1954, or 1967-it’s 2012!!

As Samuel L. Jackson so eloquently said, Wake the Fuck up, people. This is not the time to stand by, this is the time to take action.

Stacy Dash, I’m giving you the side eye. And never watching Clueless again.






6 Responses to "The Curse of Standing By"

Thanks for your strong words and including the video and poem. It gave me a chance to share it with my 23 year old step daughter. As a very out Hispanic lesbian of this generation, raised in southern calif, she had no real idea of our glbt fight. The video and your words opened her eyes and tears of understanding were born. What a gift you delivered. Thank you my friend.

As I clicked on the video and read your words underneath it, I thought, “Well, I’m not gay so I won’t cry.” I was wrong.

i completely disgaree with you when you say that illegal immigrants have a right to government resources … our people in this country can barely make ends meet … did you know that in Puterico where the food stamp program is funded by block grant , all they get is one billion dollars a year AND THAT’S IT …..

Should the American citizens in PR be forced to share what little their protetorate gets in food stamps with illegal immigrants ?

Why aren’t our own people entitled to help , why must we help others who aren’t even suppose to be here , why can’t those people get help in their own countries ?

We have enough on our plate right now just caring for our own people , please don’t ask us to care for more … if you want to help forginers , then donate out of your own pocket and let my government help it’s own people .

I’m not sure if I can agree with you, depression. Our country was built by immigrants and a people who pull themselves up by holding others down is, in my opinion, a savage society. Unfortunately, it’s the society we live in right now.

Poor people are continually held down by the rich and in terms of undocumented immigrants, because the term illegal has incredibly negative connotations, most Dreamers didn’t ask to be brought here-they simply are. Those children, who are by all intensive purposes American, are denied the education and rights that some American’s scoff off. Their parents brought them here or came here for the same reasons that waves of immigrants before them came for-the freedom to live the life they couldn’t have before, for the opportunities not afforded to them in their own countries. These Dreamers didn’t choose to be born here-they simply were.

i understand your concerns , but while black unempolyment is near 14 % in some parts of the country , i can’t accept bringining in millions of forginen workers to compete with Americans who are having a hard time …

These dreamers should be greatfull for what they have been given , healthcare , education , food , and simply accept the fact that they will have to return to their home countries and make a go of it …. they will have a better start than most of their fellow citizens …

we bring in one million legal immigrants each year , ours is a welcoming nation …. but there’s only so much we can do for the worlds poor , and right now we simply have too many of our own people who are barely haning on (46.5 million Americans on food stamps and the number is growing )

i also want to say that it’s not fair to people who have been waiting in line legally for years to become US citizens to let others cut the line … i know it sounds harsh , but what is just is what is just , and those people who have WORKED to get here , deserve to be here more than people who accidently through no fault of their own just ended up here .

I am straight. Human rights matter to me. Gay rights are human rights.

I am white. I cannot be truly free if people of color still suffer.

I am single and probably to old to have children. Abortion applies to my sister, my nieces, my neighbours, friends, colleagues etc. and therefore to me.

I’m a middle class woman in Western Europe, I had all the opportunities a woman can have and I want everybody else to have these same opportunities, too.

I’m a Christian, the life experience of my Jewish and Muslim friends, neighbours and colleagues does relate to my life, because we live together in one world.

I am a woman, I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a cousin, an aunt – how can I deny another human being’s health and reproductive rights?

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