In the 1960’s I went to a Parochial Elementary school and every student was middle-class suburban and white. No Blacks, no Native Americans, no Hispanics, or no member of any other group that can be defined as non-white. The biggest “difference” was that two of the girls had Red Hair, which I had never seen in my neighborhood. My mother grew up in Boston and used to bring me in to the city to do Christmas shopping and to visit relatives from time to time, so I had seen black people, ridden the train with them shopped next to them in Boston but knew no one who was not middle-class suburban and white. My mother made no big deal about the black people when we went into Boston.
Back in the 1960’s I watched the CBS Evening News nearly every night with my parents and for the first time saw Civil Rights demonstrations from the South. It was a recognition that there were a bunch of people who were different than me. I mean, people who were not middle-class suburban and white. So I wondered, what was the big deal about Civil Rights and the demonstrations of the Blacks down South? The nuns and other teachers at the school did not make much, if any, mention of it. I was so damn naïve that I just figured everybody is OK with everybody else. There is a line to a song that children have to be taught how to hate, well I guess I had been absent from that lesson and all of my friends had too.
One time we went into Boston, I guess I was 11 or 12, around 1970, and there was a Women’s Rights demonstration on City Hall plaza. My mother walked over to listen. I followed. However, for the sheer embarrassment of being the ONLY boy in the entire crowd, I retreated to where we had been and left my mother to listen to the speeches. Women’s rights? What in the world is that all about my 12-year-old-head wondered?
When I was 11, on my Little League team, one of my teammates was an African American kid. He was still middle-class and suburban but he was Black, in the term of the day. He grew, over the next couple of seasons, to be one of my best friends on the team. He was real good catcher. There was another Black kid on another team too. I met him when I got to High School. As it happens I am still in touch with both of these guys and my initial judgment was correct that they are both good people. But in a small way they were different but not much. I liked them they liked me–no fuss. Sounds easy.
Where am I going with this? Fast forward to 2012. I am sick of everybody needing their own “rights” or people being denied rights. How about EVERYBODY RIGHTS!
- Why shouldn’t gays and lesbians have same-sex marriage? It not a choice I’d make but as long as they don’t bother me, fine, go ahead.
- Why should women have to worry about reproductive rights? If a woman wants to choose not to have a child, and it doesn’t bother me fine, go ahead. I only know a couple of women who have chosen to not have a baby when they are pregnant, and it was an agonizing choice I am sure. But I also know many women, mostly very young women, who probably should have made the choice to abort a pregnancy. But at least they should have the choice.
- Why should a person who has years of great experience be discriminated against because of age and not be hired for a job they are perfectly qualified for? People under 40 on average, only stay at a job 3 to 5 years. People over 50 are generally more loyal and tend to stay over 9 years. Hey hiring manager, statistically you’ll be gone before the over 50 worker if you hire the older worker. Lots of experience means less training means more productivity. Use some logic. Has this affected me? I’m very sure it has.
- Why should women make less money in the same job? Equal work should mean equal pay. That should be a no brainer. This one has bugged me since I was a kid. My mother quit a job she had for about 10 years selling shoes. Reason, even though she sold more shoes than Mike, the other sales person, she made less money than he did because “he had to support his family.” This was the reason she was given when she pressed her boss for a raise. She was steamed when she got home. I had never seen her that mad…except maybe at me. I found the reason because she told my father and I overheard. It has stuck with me all these years. When I was hiring people for jobs even in the 1990’s I had to fight with Human Resources to get the women, in the same job, with the same experience and skill, the same money as men.
- Why should someone be prevented from living in an apartment because of skin color, or religion, or whatever. If they can pay the rent and keep to the terms of the lease, they should be allowed to live anywhere they want. Bill Russell, in my mind, the greatest basketball player ever, bought a house in a northern suburb of Boston when he arrived with the Celtics in the mid 1950’s. The house was vandalized one night and racial slurs written on the walls. He was a black man, a star on the best basketball team ever assembled, and some dopes decide to do this. Recently I read that a landlady had refused to rent to a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan because she is a pacifist and did not like that he had been in the Army. You just can’t make this stuff up.
- Why should someone with a handicap be excluded from a job that they can do because of access.
I could go on and on….so could you. And that is just in the USA. There are people on the far right who want to limit rights. Why?? If a person can perform well, they should not be prevented because of race, gender, sexual orientation or handicap. I am not a fan of Oprah Winfrey but she was quoted as saying “Excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism.” VERY, VERY true! We were made by whatever power to be different in certain ways. Deal with it people.Give everyone the same treatment you would want to be given. EVERYBODY RIGHTS!