To Those Who Don’t Look Like Me

To those who don’t look like me; to anyone who isn’t a straight, white, middle-class, American male.

To those who don’t look like me, I’m really, truly sorry. I’m sorry I haven’t taken your grievances seriously enough while our country seemed to be moving in the right direction the last eight years. I’m sorry I haven’t done enough to support you. I’m sorry I keep taking my privilege for granted.

To those who don’t look like me, know that this time will be different. Know that the election of Trump has scared me shitless for you. Know that I won’t just say “things need to change” – I’ll make a real effort to help propel those changes. Know that I respect you for who you are, what you look like and what you believe in.

To those who don’t look like me, I promise not to let this normalize. I promise that just because I’m not in danger of losing my rights, I will still give my rage, time and money to your causes. I promise not to sit back and hope someone else helps first. I promise not to wear a safety pin and consider my work done.

To those who don’t look like me, believe that you’re not alone. Believe that, even if I don’t go through what you go through, I sympathize with you. Believe that I want you to have every freedom in every aspect of life that I have. Believe that I want “the land of the free” to not sound like bullshit anymore.

To those who don’t look like me, your darker skin does not scare me. Your darker skin does not make you less intelligent or less capable of greatness. Your darker skin does not mean you deserve fewer opportunities. Your darker skin does not make you less of a person.

To those who don’t look like me, your religion does not intimidate me. Your religion isn’t any less personal, important or legitimate than any other. Your religion does not make you a terrorist. Your religion does not make you less of a person.

To those who don’t look like me, your sexual orientation does not offend me. Your sexual orientation does not mean your relationship is invalid. Your sexual orientation should be celebrated like any straight person’s. Your sexual orientation does not make you less of a person.

To those who don’t look like me, your birthplace does not make me think you don’t belong. Your birthplace interests and intrigues me, as do any of the reasons you may have left it. Your birthplace does not make you ineligible to live elsewhere. Your birthplace does not make you less of a person.

To those who don’t look like me, your disability does not freak me out. Your disability is your struggle, and should not be mocked. Your disability does not mean you are stupid or weird. Your disability does not make you less of a person.

To those who don’t look like me, your vagina does not make me superior. Your vagina is not something to touch without consent. Your vagina does not make you less qualified to be a CEO, become President or openly speak your mind. Your vagina does not make you less of a person.

Birmingham Pledge mural in downtown Birmingham, AL: "I believe that every person has worth as an individual. I believe that every person is entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of race or color. I believe that every thought and every act of racial prejudice is harmful; if it is my thought or act, then it is harmful to me as well as to others. Therefore, from this day forward I will strive daily to eliminate racial prejudice from my thoughts and actions. I will discourage racial prejudice by others at every opportunity. I will treat all people with dignity and respect; and I will strive daily to honor this pledge, knowing that the world will be a better place because of my effort."
Birmingham Pledge mural in downtown Birmingham, AL:
“I believe that every person has worth as an individual. I believe that every person is entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of race or color. I believe that every thought and every act of racial prejudice is harmful; if it is my thought or act, then it is harmful to me as well as to others. Therefore, from this day forward I will strive daily to eliminate racial prejudice from my thoughts and actions. I will discourage racial prejudice by others at every opportunity. I will treat all people with dignity and respect; and I will strive daily to honor this pledge, knowing that the world will be a better place because of my effort.”

To those who don’t look like me, my past inaction is inexcusable. My past inaction in the face of racism, sexism, homophobia and bigotry will not be repeated.  My past inaction and my lack of urgency have played a role in getting us here, led by a President who will unapologetically discriminate against you.

To those who don’t look like me, I will intervene when you are being taunted. I will write, march, call and petition on your behalf. I will hold my Trump-supporting friends accountable for holding their President accountable. I will not let members of the “alt-right” movement get away with Nazi salutes.

To those who don’t look like me, I will try to listen better. I will try to understand what you go through better. I will ask how I can help, and then I will help. I will make sure my like-minded friends make that effort as well.

To those who don’t look like me, I will call my representatives. I will stop sending tweets to their staff accounts and act like that makes a difference. I will show up to their meetings in person and demand they protest the appointment of Steve Bannon.

To those who don’t look like me, I will put my money where my mouth is. I’ll follow up with the Council on American-Islamic Relations until they get me on their list of volunteers. I’ll donate to the SPLC, ACLU and Planned Parenthood. I’ll continue to volunteer my time to people who are far worse off than me.

To those who don’t look like me, I will stop being part of the problem. I’ll stop making “innocent” jokes that put you down. I will try to break the chain of hate by no longer putting down Trump supporters in the way their President does to you. I will keep insisting people travel outside their bubbles to experience people, places and cultures they are unfamiliar with.

To those who don’t look like me, and to those who do, these are the changes we need to make. These are the battles we need to fight together. This is our countryThis is America, where we invite the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

To those who don’t look like me, do not be discouraged by what 61 million voters implied. Do not be discouraged by what their President says, does and stands for. They are wrong.

You deserve to be respected and protected just as much as me.

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