The Perfect World We Do Not Have

If I could stand up and say This Is My Right and receive in response agreement on that statement from all who consider it, then I would never need to explain or fight or beg. In this perfect world of imagination, every person would be born with the knowledge of the complete set of rights due to each of us, and each of us would be treated equally, without necessity of debate.

In the world of actuality, we live in a nation of vast numbers of diverse people who do not all agree on basic human or civil rights. Is every one of us entitled to a living wage, to health care, to education? Is every one of us entitled to marry whomever we choose? Is every one of us entitled to relieve ourselves in the public bathroom that best suits us?

We don’t agree on how basic services should be paid for, who should run them, or what those services should include. We don’t agree on who should be forced to live or be allowed to die, or on who should be able to decide these questions.

When we talk about human rights or civil rights, often an assumption is made that these are so basic, so intrinsic to every person’s well-being, that every person should, of course, at least agree on how these are defined. Except, this is not our reality. We do not all agree even at this basic level, and the fact that we disagree so deeply is the reason each of us must fight for those rights we feel should be basic tenets of our very existence as human beings. Continue reading “The Perfect World We Do Not Have”

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Do You See What I See?

Transracial adoptee Angela Tucker recently penned an insightful, thought provoking blog post over at Lost Daughters, in which she dissects the experience of being told after a speaking engagement that she was the “Whitest Black person” an attendee knew. She says she hears this sort of thing often, and that she tries to give people the benefit of the doubt when they say things like this, but that there seems to be no inverse; the people who call her the “whitest black person” cannot think of the “blackest white person” they know.

When I read this, I immediately thought of a woman whom I have, indeed, thought of as the “blackest white person” I know. She is a person close to my age, who grew up in the same city as me, yet had a very different childhood experience.

In 1973, after many years of protests by parents, the NAACP sued the Cleveland Public Schools, alleging intentional segregation of students based on race. The school system was found guilty of maintaining separate schools for whites and blacks, and in 1979 began busing white kids over to the east side of town and black kids over to the west side in order to integrate classrooms as mandated by law.

Many white parents, even non-Catholics, chose to send their children to the numerous private, Catholic schools in the area rather than allow them to go to school across town. Many white parents who could not afford private school tuition chose to move to one of the Cleveland suburbs to avoid having their children bused. Continue reading “Do You See What I See?”