Martin Luther King Jr. led hundreds of Black people and their allies across three bridges in 1965. Their marches formed one repeating statement of unity and fervor in a cultural climate that undoubtedly practiced racial discrimination and violent prejudice.
Since that time, we became passive, almost accustomed to the day-to-day microaggressions that littered our lives. Our activated passions took a nap, while prejudice and bigotry rolled through our streets, small enough to stay unnoticed, yet strong enough to leave us painfully anxious.
Our asserted passions awoke 50 years later when #BlackLivesMatter took force.
We watched video after video showing White police officers killing young Black and Hispanic men. We were perplexed that violent hatred was coming from those designated to protect us. We were shocked that after 50 years of civil rights movements and discourse White supremacy was still interwoven into the institutional and cultural structures that upheld the United States.
The wolves had been living among the sheep the entire time.
And as it should be, many of us -- sexual assault victims, disabled persons, ethnic minorities, immigrants, and people of the LGBT+ community -- and our allies are in outcry right now. We have watched the new president-elect derogate our lives, our love, our liberties, and our legal necessities from a stage surrounded by thousands who cheered him on. We have literally heard him encourage violence and observed as he offered legal and financial protections to anyone who beat us.
There is nothing united about the feelings we are experiencing.
But it is time for us to take inventory of our own growth.
From decade to decade and era to era, our minority communities have evolved. We have matured into a strong voice. We are no longer practicing our first steps, relying on others for our own stability. We have grown in strength and in stature. Our lives are more empowered, and we have a more rooted political position than we have ever had before.
If there is any silver lining in this election, it is that prejudice and bigotry will no longer stay small, crouched in the corners of our lives. They will live in the spotlight now and it is our opportunity to tear down their supportive pillars once and for all. We will not tolerate another 50-year nap. We, the various minority subgroups and our allies, are capable of using our voices in one united chorus now.
This election will keep our fight in the limelight.
Let me also be very clear: our enemy is not the other who voted in opposition to us; our enemy is the hatred that silently burrows itself under our skin and into our ideologies. And when we notice hatred in another or in ourselves, we must be kind enough to carefully extract it; otherwise we will use hatred to combat hatred.
For decades we have been asking Republicans, the privileged, and the majority to hear our pain. We have not asked for this out of other-reliant neediness, but as an outpouring of one salient truth: We are all equal.
I am coming to believe that while we have been describing our pains, they have been listening like an angry partner: collecting data that proves their point, while waiting for the moment when they get to fire back.
And as a united collective, we are strong enough to tolerate it.
We know a thing or two about love. While approaching the hurdles that have blocked our progress, we have relied upon one another in vulnerability. Along the way we have organically reproduced the relational intimacy for which this world starves. Our victimization will be our biggest asset, because it has taught us how to love unconditionally.
Our power does not come from a hateful, biting place. It comes from our ability to unearth beauty in the muddiest of dilemmas. We have done this before.
Gay men and women, transgender, bisexuals, the disabled, and ethnic minorities have long stood before the mirror of self-reckoning. And slowly, from beneath the shamed tattered fabric, rose evidence that proved our inherent value.
And now we must use our ability to look beyond the frayed fabric, one more time, to discover the beauty in those that oppose us; yes, even those who have cheered for our demise.
Before a hurting, bruised, and bleeding audience in Montgomery, Alabama of 1957, MLK spoke these words:
"A second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy, and every time you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points."
Our victimizations have not left us powerless, but powerful enough to change our country from the inside out, transfiguring the emotional being who hates us into the neighbor who respects us.
I implore you now. We are not to resign ourselves to the day-to-day microaggressions; it is not the time to find the power of hatred as pleasing and strengthening. It is time to reconcile. And this election has proven that only the powerful can initiate that process.
You are the powerful. Your skin tone, your sexual orientation, your gender, your pain, your immigrant status, your disability has forced you to access your truest strength, unconditional self-love. In this light, your minority position is your biggest asset. Let us finally put them to use to tear down the walls- the prejudice wall, the promised wall, and the proverbial wall that protects the United States of America from achieving its fullest potential.
We have learned to love ourselves. And now I hope you will join in by teaching our country the same lesson. It is time once again, to stand before the mirror, but this time we must bring someone else along.
We are here to stay, and so are they. As a petition, as a prayer, as a practice: Love your enemy as you love yourself.
Soon the beauty will rise. I promise.