The Right to Be

Recently, my job has begun engaging in more conversations about diversity and inclusion. As part of an effort to be greater allies and creators of change. The first step being one of the most important – educating ourselves about a myriad of topics.

A few weeks ago, we as a company watched the film – The Life and Death of Marsha P. Johnson. A film that is not without controversy, but for me drove home a very important point – we all simply want the right to be.

Being Mixed is sometimes a constant exercise of explaining your existence. We’re asked What we are or which Category we fit in. All in an effort to accommodate an archaic point of view which states that we either all of one group or part of nothing. That we must choose which side of an established culture we belong, in order to truly be able to embrace ourselves. And that if we don’t choose, then somehow we’re not good enough. We don’t the meet the requirements of our own being.

What Marsha wanted and was fighting for was simply the right for herself and anyone else in the LGBTQ movement to feel confident and safe walking down the street. We all have struggles in life in America. From having enough money, to finding love, to being healthy – the list goes on. But when you’re considered other, there’s an additional burden placed above the basic issues of human existence.

And being mixed, our extra struggle is being treated as a different kind of other depending on the perspective of who we’re dealing with. In my case, I’m either treated as black, questioned if I’m black enough to understand oppression, or simply some sort of oddity that can’t quite be placed in our current society. I understand and have come to terms with this reality. I’ve learned how to recognize and deal with these issues. But there are still moments when I wish this wasn’t the case.

We are starting to recognize and have conversations about what it means to be outside the box in America. In talking with people that I not only know but also connect with, it’s a very hopeful sign that there is a generation that sees things as more fluid and less rigid. That the boxes we used to define ourselves in the past are constraints that we don’t need anymore because they’re used to keep our citizens from being themselves and reaching their true potential.

We are waking up to the fact that we have the right to be who we are. It’s a slow, painful process that is sometimes met with a violent backlash. But one, that I think, an entire generation recognizes the tremendous value of. We have the right to identify how we see fit. To be human. It’s why there is such an outcry for racial justice. And why we’re willing to pay the price of our very lives for.

Our ancestors fought and died for us to be able to have choice. And choice doesn’t mean always choosing just one. We can be both black and white, and Asian, and whatever culture we were raised in. It doesn’t make us fake or traitors or anything else we’re misunderstood to be.

Life is complicated and so is the way we think of ourselves. And when we look in the mirror, we have the right to smile in approval for what we see.

Anything less is unacceptable.

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