This will not be a pleasant post.
I read, today, about a 13 year old boy who committed suicide because of years and years of homophobic bullying. Most of his life he was tortured by social violence.
Bullying is social violence.
It's an act of violence that happens, rarely, in private.
It almost always has an audience.
I read, today, about some sports hero wearing rainbow laces to show solidarity with the LGBTI community. Yep, he got press. Yep, he got praise. Yep, what he did is nearly meaningless.
Like safety pins are nearly meaningless.
Like crosses around your neck on a chain are nearly meaningless.
I'm tired of symbols.
I'm tired of easy activism that is had with the click of a mouse.
So you like a post about racism.
So you re-post a poster about sexism.
So you write a comment denouncing homophobia.
Nearly fucking meaningless.
Rainbow laces won't save a boy from killing himself, at 13 fucking years old, because he'd been bullied because of his presumed sexuality for most of his life.
They just fucking won't.
You know what will.
Someone stepping in and doing something.
Someone standing with him.
Someone sucking up the courage to take fucking action.
Enough with symbols, and likes, and re-posts. They are nearly meaningless. They are worse than meaningless, they make people feel like they've done something. They've taken a stand.
I said, 'nearly' meaningless, didn't I. Did you notice.
Because they are meaningful if they MEAN something. If they mean that because of that symbol you won't stand by as a group of teens surround a fat guy in a wheelchair taunting him with pig sounds. If they mean that you won't stand by when your own kids call something 'gay' as a pejorative. If they mean that you won't be silent when someone says 'but all lives matter.' If you won't DO SOME FUCKING THING.
Rainbow fucking laces.
Is a PRODUCT.
Are a PRODUCT.
Crosses on chains.
Are a PRODUCT.
The word activist, when it's spoken begins with ACTIVE!
Make those symbols mean something, make them mean action, make them mean that people who see them know you will not be silent. Make them mean that a 13 fucking year old kid will know they aren't alone, not because you are wearing them but because you are demonstrating, through bold action, that he is loved and valued and not fucking alone.
A thirteen year old boy killed himself.
A story in a paper.
Appearing the same fucking day.
That some athlete dude ties his billion dollar shoes with rainbow laces.
And all I can do, when reading one story after the other, is fucking cry.
Where were this boy's teachers, parents, friends? The ones who later say, "If I'd only known." Clueless. Negligent. Or actively involved in the bullying.
You've turned me into a very minor activist - one of the ones who speak up, even if it's not cool, when something goes on in their neighborhood.
But I don't get out very much at all, so I'm not much help, except in reposting the well-done ads, the ones that get under your skin, to boost their signal a bit.
All I can promise is to not look away, and to speak up when I can.
all those symbols are as useful as screen doors on submarines if they are not accompanied by ACTION.....as you say so clearly.
and oh, that poor child...and those who loved him.....
Alicia, I appreciate & echo your disdain of anything that contributed to the hurt that this young man felt deeply enough to take his own life. It is infuriating & heart-breaking at the same time. It makes us all wish we had power to go back in time and find this young man, it makes us all wish we could build a strong fortress around others who are young and bullied. However I take exception to the presumption that the young man's parents, teachers, and friends were all either negligent or complicit. Without knowing this young man or his family, I can't suggest this is or is not the case. But casting blame in a situation like this can be so terribly hard on the people left behind. So often in situations in which someone commits suicide it's not that there is a lack of people in the person's life who would try to help, but rather an intensity of feeling that prevents the person from sharing his thoughts with others, an intensity of feeling of aloneness in spite of people being there, and terribly sadly in the case of this young man only worsened by the bullying and torment he experienced. I don't know if it's the same person Dave references, but there is an article on line in which two sisters talk about their brother who recently took his life at age 13. The sisters sound heartbroken and in shock, having lost two siblings in two years to suicide. So tragic. I just think it's important that we not lay blame on people whose role we know not, especially those who are grieving an unimaginable loss. Call out a bully - yes; call out someone who has intentionally inflicted harm - yes; feel sadness that we as a society did nothing to protect this young man - yes. But I would imagine the parents, teachers, and friends of this young man are grieving and deserve not condemnation but support.
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