The two men on motor cycles were on either side of our Toyota revving their engines. My mother drove further up, then the men drove further up. My mother drove up again. The men followed and revved their engines again. “Nigger bitches” the one on my side said in a low tone. They sped off. Why on earth did they do that? My mom and I were just on our way to Costco to pick up our year’s worth of toilet paper like everybody else. It was broad daylight 1998 in New York, not 1928 in Alabama. Why us? Why me?
I never met Tyler Clementi, but as a black woman, I can relate to his experience. I am sure that Tyler also asked himself “why me?”. “Why am I the subject of homophobic vitriol. Why are people laughing at me because of who and how I choose to love? Why am I being bullied?”
Black History Month has ended, but please remember that we are all African-Americans being spat on at lunch counters in 1960, regardless of our skin tones. We are all homosexuals being attacked with baseball bats in Central Park in 1978, regardless of our sexual orientations. We are all German jews in 1940 being walked to gas chambers, regardless of our religions. We are all Marcelo Lucero being beaten to death in Suffolk County in 2008 for being Latino, regardless of our nationalities. We are all Japanese Americans being relocated to internment camps in 1942, regardless of our ancestral origin. We are all wheel chair bound and struggling to get from place to place in 1985, regardless of our ability to walk. We are all women and girls being raped every 107 seconds, regardless of our genitalia.
Why are we all of those people? We are effectually the same because we all know how it feels to be bullied. All bullying, whether attributed to race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, nationality, or physical ability, has the same root, insecurity manifesting as evil personified. All bullying has the same modus operandi, the creation of dehumanizing smear campaigns about the target group. All bullying has the same fuel, silent accomplices who do nothing because they think that someone else is being attacked.
Moreover, bullying spreads like a cancer moving to and from communities of color to gay communities to immigrant communities, and so forth and so on, if left untreated. This is why Martin Luther King told us that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.
But thankfully, all bullying also has the same solution, creating a culture of radical self-love, universal acceptance, and appreciation of difference. We can create that culture!
About the Author
Ama Karikari-Yawson, Esq., is the author of Sunne’s Gift and Founder of Milestales Publishing and Education Consulting