Open-minded is defied as having a mind receptive to new ideas, arguments, etc.; Unprejudiced. We are officially under 120 days until 2017. 2017- I can remember being in High School at the end of the 90’s and 2017 impossible to imagine. In our very advanced American Society, you would think we were at a point where racism, discrimination, prejudices, etc would be extinct. It saddens me to say that unfortunately that is not the case. The fire behind these issues still burns strong.
It’s not to say that we haven’t made progress. The legalization of gay marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act naming marriage to be between a man and a woman has been deemed unconstitutional shows the progress that we have made. But it seems that for every step forward we take, someone makes us take giant leaps backwards. Laws that allow business owners to turn away business of people who they think are gay because they are Christian have been popping up in many conservative states. What happened to Love Thy Neighbor? What happened to not judging? Why are we SO concerned about what other people do, especially when we have no personal connection to them? We have laws being passed discriminating against Trans Women forcing them to use the men’s room, risking them being beat up, because all of the sudden they are going to prey on our children. Yet, when a real male predator comes along and sexually assaults a woman and is found guilty, we give him only 6 months in prison and let him out in 3. Why are we so closed minded and predatory to those that are different and we don’t understand?
We live in a time where black men are pulled over and arrested far more than their white counterparts. And just as Japanese Americans were discriminated against during World War II, Muslim Americans are discriminated against and seen as terrorists. We have a Presidential Candidate that wants to build a wall to block out Mexicans and referred to them as drug dealers. A Presidential Candidate who wants to block Muslims from our country and make the Muslim Americans participate in a national registry. Have we learned nothing from history?
Americans want to stop Syrian Refugees from entering our country, even though they are also being harmed by the terrorists we fear. Even though these refugees are vetted prior to being allowed to enter our country. It’s not an easy processes. My grandparents were Polish and were placed in concentration camps during WWII. After being freed, it took them YEARS to be allowed into the United States. They were victims and they were as unwanted in this country as today’s refugees. Our country was built by immigrants and the idea that we are a melting pot of different nationalities. That our differences are what make us strong as a society. What about what it says on the Statue of Liberty?
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” When did we forget these things?
Even those of us who consider ourselves open-minded- how often do we pull our purses a little closer when a black man enters an elevator with us? As women how often do we still think that we can’t do something as well as a man does? How often do you hear that women are too emotional and too hormonal to hold positions of authority? There is a very real chance that our next president will be female and yet women still earn on avearge $.79 to a man’s $1.00. We’ve seen some of the crudest and most racist comments said about our first Black President.
Will sexism reign supreme if Hillary Clinton is elected president? Her tone of voice and appearance are criticized. I recently read a Facebook post talking about how Hillary is mocked for wearing “boxy clothing”, yet she dresses the way she does to conceal a bullet proof vest. When was the last time you heard anyone mock Donald Trump’s choice of wardrobe? On red carpets, Male actors are questioned about the roles they have played, women are asked mostly about their appearances. How do we end the culture of discrimination and prejudice?
We have to start with the youth of our nation. Children are products of their environment. Growing up in a household with racist, homophobic and sexist ideals will most likely produce a child that is racist, homophobic and sexist. Those of us who know better must get involved. Teaching children, whether they are your own child, student, niece, nephew etc to be open minded and accepting of those who are not like them is essential. Teaching them to learn from the differences of others and teaching them to stand up for their peers.
We need to stand up for what is right. Stand up for those who are looked down upon and being discriminated against. Not doing anything is just as bad, in my opinion, as acting on our prejudices. We have to do better. We have to be better. We have to learn from our past and heal our very broken society.
“A mind is like a parachute; it doesn’t work if it is not open.” -Frank Zappa