DRAFT TITLE: Walking the Walk: Taking Action Against Prejudice
There is an old saying that you can’t truly understand another person’s experience until you’ve “walked a mile in their shoes.” Unfortunately, we don’t often have that opportunity – but this doesn’t mean that we should not strive to better understand the plight of those around us.
Imagine coming to work one day and being asked to pack up your desk, not because of any mistake or shortcoming, but instead because your employer didn’t like who you are. Imagine being denied the apartment you really wanted (despite your excellent credit record), simply because the landlord didn’t like your looks. Finally, imagine if your child was being unfairly picked on at school and the administration did nothing to stop it. Sadly, these are the types of situations that many gay and transgender Americans regularly face every day due to intolerance, prejudice and unfair bias. These acts of discrimination can divide communities and hurt our colleagues, friends and family.
Despite negative stereotypes, most gay and transgender Americans lead everyday lives just like everyone else: they go to work, serve in our military, pay taxes, attend church and barbecue on the weekends. Like anyone else, LGBT Americans care about their families, their community and their nation. Regrettably, there are still laws and policies in place that deny them some of their basic rights.
In many states, employers can legally fire a worker simply because they are gay or transgender, regardless of their workplace proficiency. Similarly, gay and transgender people can be denied an apartment simply on the basis of their sexual orientation. These practices stand against the basic liberties that this nation is built on. As a society, we cannot afford to have that sort of inequality.
America is represented by people of different ethnicities, religions, political beliefs and levels of prosperity. While these differences make each individual unique, they also contribute to our collective, cultural, and economic vitality. Diversity is our strength. It’s part of our DNA. We believe the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness should be available for all of us. Biased treatment is an affront to our values.
Moreover, marginalizing millions of hardworking, creative Americans hurts us as a nation. Walking a mile in the shoes of a gay or transgender African American is especially difficult, considering the hostile environment they often face in their own neighborhoods. As members of the African American community we must fully embrace all individuals and families. We are all equal. Leaders within the African American community should join together and denounce violence and discrimination against LGBT people.
Existing laws, both state and federal, do not adequately safeguard gay and transgender Americans from discrimination and must be made fair and inclusive. Everyone deserves the chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, provide for their families, be safe in their communities, and take care of the ones they love.
Breaking down the walls of discrimination is no easy task, but America’s commitment to fairness must ultimately drive efforts toward achieving equality. If we fail to combat prejudice, we are perpetuating an injustice that one day may come back to hurt our nation and our prosperity.
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