Op-ed: Choices show the worse in us
I am disappointed.
I am disgusted.
I am ashamed.
I’ve never felt further removed from Lee Greenwood’s famous ballad. Unfortunately, there are layers of freedom and some people have precious little. Some people, even in our country which is oft touted as the greatest nation on Earth, are not free.
Our children are given subpar educations, in institutions in which they are taught how and where to hide from would be mass murderers along with ABCs and math. Our daughters learn they are not as important as their male counterparts: They’re looked over in class (especially STEM), they aren’t afforded the same opportunities in extra curriculars, they’re more harshly judged and monitored for their apparel, and they learn that their choices and behavior are to blame when someone else chooses to assault them.
This past few weeks, they’ve also learned that if they find themselves successful — after years of putting in the hard work and making sacrifices — they’ll still be judged harshly, they’ll be judged by their appearance, they’ll be demeaned, and they’ll be dismissed.
We’ve also learned that some people matter more, simply based on where they were lucky enough to be born, who they love, or their DNA. We’ve learned that if your ancestors were people of color, you’re expected to continue to shoulder the burden of the racism because other people haven’t risen above the horrible hate they’ve been taught.
When a white man shoots several in a church and gets to stop for a burger on the way to jail but a black man dies for selling loose cigarettes, we should be able to admit together that we have a huge problem to address.
When the love between consenting adults results in abusive emotional and even physical threats, we should all be able to admit together that we have a huge problem to address.
When racist organizations praise a leader and those who surround and support him refuse to renounce this support; when folk within our country value relationships between our president and foreign dictators MORE than they value relationships with their family/friends/neighbors, we should all be able to admit together that we have a huge problem to address.
When children — INFANTS — are caged and neglected, when our fellow humans are treated in manners that would see someone jailed if they treated an animal that way, we should all be able to admit together that we have a huge problem to address.
When duly elected AMERICANS are sent to Congress to represent ALL of their districts but are told by the person occupying the highest seat in our government to “go back to the country from whence you came,” we should all be able to admit together that we have a huge problem to address.
There are many immigrants in our community. They do every manner of job, from serving us dinner to taking care of the sick among us. Allowing comments like, “Go back” or “Send her back,” to go unchecked is harmful. Being supportive of or even just silent while these statements and sentiment flourish sends a very sad message to wonderful people in our community and our society in general.
None of this has anything to do with which political party you are registered. None of this has anything to do with anything other than being a decent and respectful human. This is something we all get to choose. How we treat others is a choice. A lot of people in our country are failing this basic test of humanity and I’m disappointed, disgusted, and ashamed.
Signed, me. Your friend, family, neighbor, or constituent.
Jennifer Bryant is a local activist and lifelong West Virginia.