I’ve learned more about myself, my friends, and my world during the past 3 months than I have my whole life. That might be because I am a part of ResStaff here at The University of Michigan, but it also might be because I’ve become more tolerant. Of everyone. Different sexual orientations, different genders, different races, different socioeconomic statuses.
I had a pretty culturally sheltered life until I got to UM. I grew up in a town where more than 90% of my class was white, above the poverty line, heterosexual, and Christian. Looking back, those 18 years scarred me as a person. I was intolerant of anyone who did not fit into those “norms” that I assumed because of my surroundings.
A new, really awesome friend asked me if I heard the song “Same Love” by Macklemore last night. I had, but I didn’t remember it well enough to talk about it. I just said that I think so, but really wasn’t 100% sure we were talking about the same song. I’ve listened to it over 45 times today. If you haven’t heard it yet, listen to it now before you read any more of this post. Listen to what is being said. Listen to the pain, but also listen to the love. It made me realize my mistakes in life, but also that I can make up for them by spreading love, compassion, understanding, and justice. That friend made me reflect on my life, something I don’t get to do often enough, and I am so appreciative for it.
I’ve learned more about myself, my friends, and my world during the past 3 months than I have my whole life. That might be because I am a part of ResStaff here at The University of Michigan, and I get paid to promote social justice. But it also might be because I’ve become more understanding and open. Of everyone. Different sexual orientations, different genders, different races, different socioeconomic statuses. I have finally learned that people cannot be judged based on their social identities, but should instead be judged on their character. You would think someone who is going to be a doctor at one of the best schools in the world would have realized that by now. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have realized it once I got to U of M last year, and that I haven’t really acted on it until my sophomore year in college.
I had a pretty culturally sheltered life until I got to U of M. I grew up in a town where more than 90% of my class was white, above the poverty line, heterosexual, and Christian. Looking back, those 18 years scarred me as a person. I was intolerant of anyone who did not fit into those “norms” that I assumed because of my surroundings.
In high school, I wasn’t always comfortable with myself or my friends. Sure I was the valedictorian, class president, and seemed to have the school system wrapped around my pinky, but that doesn’t mean I was satisfied with life. I started off high school with friends that I shouldn’t have had. I had no tolerance toward people that were different than my group of friends, a group of white, privileged, heterosexual males. If I had a dollar for every time we used the words “faggot”, “queer”, “homo” “so gay”, I could have went to Michigan for free (if only…). I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t stand up to my *friends* or really talk to anyone because no one stood up for gay people where I lived. Not just gay people, but black people, poor people, women, and more. Homosexuals were heavily targeted in my high school, and I cannot imagine going through what some of them had to go through on a daily basis. Thankfully I was able to get out of it before I went down the wrong path, but those people I called friends instilled hate towards others into my soul, and it took almost 5 years to shake it.
Then I came to U of M. My life has never been better. I have friends who are gay, bisexual, black, Muslim, Latino, feministic, and many other identities that I was never exposed to at home. I have become so much more tolerant of other identities. So tolerant that I have to even use the word “tolerant” because it’s so much more than that. I love them. I love them and I respect them because every day they wake up and they are looked down on by parts of society because of who they love, the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, or the clothes they wear. They endure being called faggots, niggers, rag-heads, bitches, sluts, and many other horrible words. I love them because I know that I have hurt them in the past, and I will never get it off of my conscience. But I will work to promote and educate people about social justice, and more importantly, love and compassion.
If you are spreading hate, stop. You are literally killing people with your words. Someone each day commits suicide because they were targeted for a sexual, religious, cultural, racial, or other bias. Why do we spread so much hate that people would rather end their own life than continue living in what should be a great world? It is because we have not been taught understanding, compassion, justice, and love. We have been taught that minorities are not wanted, and the majority should have power over everyone. We have been taught wrong, folks. And I am one of you. I hope that spending the rest of my life promoting tolerance and love will make up for my mistakes in the past.
Spread understanding. Spread compassion. Spread justice. Spread Love.
If you’re reading this, I love you. Tell someone you love them today. Someone that wouldn’t expect it. Someone that thinks you don’t even appreciate their existence. I guarantee it will make their day and make you feel a euphoria that can only be felt with love.
Thanks for stopping by.