When I first saw the post I wasn’t surprised. Which drove me crazy.
How could such harmful words seem normal to me? Was I immune to hate speech? Is our community susceptible to this kind of behavior? Why doesn’t this surprise me?
My only conclusion was that this wasn’t an isolated incident. In fact, I knew first hand that this wasn’t an isolated incident. How could it be, when the same speech has been directed at me and many of my peers in the past?
I began to wonder why this speech was so prominent in my daily life. I read about it in the newspaper, I see it on TV and then I hear it in the hallways between classes. But it’s what I don’t hear, see, or read that allows hate speech to endure.
We discuss why these issues are bad, but we seldom offer solutions on how to fix them. We are told ‘don’t say this, say this,’ but don’t understand why these things shouldn’t be said. We are told to respect each other’s differences, but then allow ourselves to divide into groups where we are ‘this’ and everyone else is ‘that.’
And yet we expect issues like the one over the summer to halt? For people to become allies and companions overnight? For our communities to be accepting places of camaraderie and growth?
When something like what happened this summer occurs, we are shocked and hurt, yet we dismiss the fact that we have made our community this way.
After the harm is done, we move forward and hope that from this experience we can grow. We focus on moving forward and forget the underlying messages from the events that took place, starting the cycle all over again.
I don’t think this cycle can be broken overnight. I don’t even think that is can be solved in a year. It takes time to gain the strength and courage to speak out against what is wrong and stop perpetrators of this speech in their tracks. And I am not one to preach. Because I was a bystander once too. But through experiences I have found strength and courage to speak out. And I advise others to do the same. It is time to challenge this cycle. Say something.