Exclusion is not exclusive to one side

Illustration by Diana Ortega

Throughout my life, I have faced little to no discrimination based on my race, gender and sexual orientation. I was blessed enough to have a wealthy family and the opportunities that many of my peers never had. I have spent my life in a privileged state and I have never forgotten to admit that my advantages have led to my successes.

Division has become a trademark of our modern culture. We have become comfortable in a recurring cycle of absolute dissidence with our peers. The simplicity of “us versus them” allows us to see our society in easily definable terms, like being Republican, Democrat or black and white. This leads to conflict.

I have seen many instances of hatred throughout my life directed at people who I am close to. My ex-roommate and best friend was often discriminated against at his job for being mixed race and high-functioning autistic. He would come home from work with tear-stained cheeks from having been prank-called by his co-workers pretending to be the police out for his arrest. Racial slurs were abundantly used at his job to provoke him. I was appalled, but he would tell me that this treatment had become the norm for him. His co-workers were of all different backgrounds.

It was then that I came to the realization that regardless of belief and influences, people could be hateful.

Two years ago, I had a friend named Emmi. Emmi was bisexual and an active participant in the online actions of the LGBTQ+ community on the website Tumblr. She was someone I saw as inclusive and caring to everyone she encountered.

However, one day I saw a shift. A sect of asexual individuals was seeking a community online to call their own. They soon agreed to join the community Emmi was a part of.

Emmi’s response to the situation was flat-out no. This completely baffled me.

Her argument was that while asexual individuals did face prejudice, it did not warrant joining their community; it was not enough prejudice. She reverted to using slurs and insulting the group publicly so they would not feel welcome. I was confused. I had never had the opportunity to see something like this before.

Being a straight, white male has never been difficult for me. As I stated before, I was given opportunities and unfair exceptions that do not exist for my peers. With this realization came a purpose and an obligation. I became active in politics. I attended clubs and protests. The pursuance of equal and fair treatment among my peers became a goal worth fighting for. Unfortunately, I was unwanted.

I was told that I was not allowed to voice my opinion. Organizations and friend groups I joined rejected me on the basis of being white, male and straight. I was expected to degrade and demean the very same people that I belonged to, just to fit in. I was driven to be a bully.

However, I rejected that narrative.

Generalizing an entire group of people as recourse for the actions of a few is an objectively wrong response. We cannot solve complex problems such as racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia by resorting to the same tactics used by those that perpetrate these false states of dominance.

Why do we accept that the only capable response is to stoop to the level of those who we are fighting.

We are better than that. Every person marching and every person speaking out against discrimination is fighting the same fight, regardless of race, gender and sexual orientation. There ought to be no question in our society whether a person has the right to join a cause based on race or gender.

Who are we to decide who can speak and about what. I ask that we judge ourselves and others on our actions and characteristics. To join together in the abolishment of unwanted power dynamics within our society should be celebrated, not splintered.