What can we do to defend equality?

It may not be June anymore, but I saw a civil rights related post today on Facebook that got me asking myself, “What are we doing to defend equality amongst people?”

You might be watching the news to find out about more hate crimes around the world. Religious hate, racial hate, gender hate, and even hatred of nationalities are only a few of them. But what is also a “crime?” Intolerance and discrimination are two things that can turn into hate crimes if they are not stopped in advance.

The devastation that a single hate crime, intolerance or stereotype can create is too much for many to bear. A physically or mentally disabled person is bypassed for a job when his skills and education are matched with other applicants’. It may be illegal for an employer to do this, but it happens.

A Jewish person is considered stingy and rich, even in jest, when they are, in fact, the exact opposite.

A Hispanic teenager is told in the public high school cafeteria that “Hispanics are only there to clean up white people’s trash.” The result is a fight between the kids. (I heard about this after it happened at my school.) Even if the other boy was just angry at his peer, this is not okay. Immediate action was taken that day.

And then there is this one. The following photo depicts a conversation I had with a friend of mine more than a decade ago, though I can still remember how it went as if it were just yesterday:

So the question remains, what are we doing to defend equality amongst people in this country and everywhere around the world?

If we could just stop a person mid-joke or mid-comment and say, “I don’t want to hear this,” then that would be a start. I’m not saying that you should become an activist, or a picketer. What I’m saying is that if you can change something as simple as an uncomfortable topic of conversation, then you can channel that ability into so much more.

The power of speech is an amazing thing and here in the United States, we are free to use it. Guess what? It’s so simple! It all starts with a word. Just one.

NO.

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