Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States of America. As I reflect on the impact he had on the lives of people of all ethnicities, I am inspired. For me, Martin Luther King demonstrated through his example how the possibility for change can be manifested into reality. Now is the time to dare to dream bigger and bolder and then make it happen.
Dreaming about possibilities, my muse is ignited with passion for change, not only in ethnic communities, but for women and the LGBTQ community as well. I write today with the mission of discovering and sharing uplifting and hope-giving examples of change, even inside the tumultuous political climate of our time.
The Black Lives Matter movement, which began in 2013, is one of the forums for change that continues to influence politics and challenge communities and individuals to be better. Since its inception, #BlackLivesMatter has been tweeted nearly 30 million times. The message has been heard not just in the United States, but on the global stage. As a forum for equal rights, the movement has popularized civil disobedience and activism.
In his Ted Talk, Embrace Your Raw, Strange Magic, Casey Gerald calls us all to have the courage to stand up against societal pressure for perfection, obedience and submission, choosing instead to speak our truth in our quest to build a better world.
The MeToo Movement is another example of the building willingness of people to speak out for human rights. While focused on the de-sexualization of women, the most prevalent victims of abuse and harassment, the movement takes a stand on sexual discrimination against both sexes.
I read an article recently in Time magazine where author Laurie Halse Anderson shared her stories about boys’ perceptions regarding sexual abuse while visiting schools following the publication of her novel, Speak, which tells the story of a girl who was raped.
Anderson was astounded to discover that many of the boys had uniformed views. They felt that if a girl was raped on a date, if she had led him on in any way or had been drinking, it wasn’t rape. They’d been raised to believe that rapists are the bad guys in movies, with guns or knives; that rape necessarily involves that level of violence. They had no concept of consent.
But Anderson believes there is hope for change with educational programs. She believes we have to talk to our boys and we have to talk to our girls; we have to have the tough conversations.
Conversations continue around the issues of gender inequality. While the gap between wages between men and women is narrowing, there continues to be a need for government policies and business objectives to reflect equal pay for equal work and experience, particularly in the developing countries of the world.
In her moving speech at the Golden Globes, actress Glenn Close takes it to the heart of the matter; women have to be able to follow their dreams.
In a recent advertisement by Gillette titled The Best Men Can Be, bullying and sexualized behaviour towards women and men is challenged. Men are encouraged to hold one another accountable, to say the right thing and to act the right way.
I know from personal experience just how amazing a man can be. Men like my Mister, my brother, my son-in-law and my son demonstrate character and integrity with their words and with their actions. They model respectful behaviour and strive to be the best they can be. They may be a part of a minority, but the numbers are growing.
I believe that as a society and as families we need to start teaching our children, our boys and our girls, about the boundaries of their bodies. They need to know from a very young age about permission. We need to dismantle traditions that don’t honour that by telling children who to kiss or hug. They have to be the ones that decide what happens with their bodies and they have to know it is their undeniable right.
The LGBTQ community is making strides in the effort toward equality too. The National Women’s Law Centre is expanding the possibilities, urging Congress to pass the Equality Act. This bill will allow basic rights for fair treatment for the LGBTQ community for the first time in the history of the United States.
I can feel the energy of the movement rising. I can hear the hum of voices filled with courage speaking their truth. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream of a united brotherhood of America. I have a dream of united global community of citizens of all ethnicities, genders, and sexualities.
As Fannie Lou Hamer stated so succinctly, “nobody is free until everybody is free.”
So yeah, I’m feeling hopeful for a future where all of humanity is valued, respected and equal.