I have never been on the front lines of discrimination. Never felt the sting of nasty eye stares because my skin is a different colorthan the purveyor of a store or other establishment that I’m in. Never overheard whispering from onlookers wondering “what makes her think she can shop here?” But hey, I live in America. I’m white. And I’m not gay. I’m not overweight. And I don’t show any signs of outwardly obvious religious affiliations. From the outside looking in, I’m a poster child for the Aryans. Hell, the Nazis would have loved me – but you know what? That’s kinda scary. No. It’s really scary. And quite frankly, I don’t like it.
Now I know this is a bit of a venture off my usual lighthearted sarcastic path – but I cannot not say something. Not with what’s happening in my state. Not with what’s happening all around me. And certainly not with what I fear might happen a few hundred feet away at our state capital building.
Back to me for a second – so, like I said, I have never been a recipient of outright discrimination. But not all that long ago a topic I was writing about took me to a place that, for the first time in my life, dropped a little hint of what it might be like to be completely unwelcomed just because of the way I looked … so I went into this store without even the slightest concern for my safety – but the second I walked in and the door closed behind me I felt it. The stares. There were probably a dozen men and not one other woman in sight. Now I have been on assignments before where I’ve been the only woman somewhere but never once have I been apprehensive or concerned. I mean why would I? Especially if I’ve never felt the stares before.
But this was different. They were staring, but no one would make eye contact with me. No one even spoke to me. I literally had to push my way through the tiny isles until I came to the back of the shop – which in retrospect wasn’t the wisest of decisions. I believe in that sick sense and instead of going to the back, I should have left. I should have turned, walked out the front, called my editor and said, “no way” to covering that story. But I didn’t. Why? Again, because I had never felt the stares before.
What happened next is unimportant – I was fine. I finally found someone that would talk to me – he wouldn’t shake my hand nor did he ever look at me, but I got the information I needed and I left. Unscathed, but not unaffected. And having that one small, insignificant experience has, perhaps, made me even more frightened for the potential impact that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act could have on Hoosiers let alone anyone that visits Indiana. And I don’t like it. Not one bit.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” – The Declaration of Independence
No … this post isn’t exactly inspired by The Daily Prompt: Tagline – “Often our blogs have taglines, but what if humans did too? What would yours be?” BUT, IF I came with a tagline. I would hope it would be something that shined understanding. And I wholeheartedly hope and pray that Indiana does not get saddled with a tagline that implies intolerance.