In our struggle for equity and social justice, the LGBTQ community has a lot to learn from our black sisters and brothers; in the face of blatant discrimination and violation of human rights, they fought bravely and resiliently, standing up (and in some cases, sitting down!) for what they knew to be right.
I'm thinking of a situation a colleague came to me about recently. They invited their class to design a logo for our Board's "design a logo for Day-of-Pink T-shirt" contest. It was to be an authentic, real-life application of some of the Visual Art and Media conventions they had studied.
The teacher was at a loss: They wanted to promote diversity, plant a thinking seed about equity and social justice, and they knew that both the Board and the Ontario Human Rights Act stood behind them.
But they also wanted to "respect the home culture" of their students.
I invited the teacher to consider whether they would want to respect the home culture if they were designing Black History Month posters and some students indicated that their parents preferred they not associate with coloured folk.
In discussing the case with another colleague, it was suggested that choices and options be given to the students, a-la "you can design a logo for the Pink T-shirt Day, or you can design a logo for...."
Again I wondered, if the assignment had been given around a Black History Month theme, would there have been a choice not to participate?
Oh how I long for the days when we can say the same about homophobia. Think what you like in your heart (that's a whole other battle), but know that one simply doesn't make homophobic remarks or say things that could be offensive to a full 10% of the population; it just simply isn't publically acceptable.
We're not there yet.
But then, the civil rights movement wasn't a 50m sprint!
If our black brothers and sisters can achieve equal rights, at least in theory, and increasingly in practice, then so can we.
Happy Black History Month, my sisters and brothers -- thank you for sharing your experience with us so that we can grow and learn from your struggles and be richer for having been exposed to your culture!