Like many, I’m still taking in the images of the tragic death of George Floyd, an unarmed black U.S. man, in the custody of the police who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes. As a man of color I’m enraged.
But this is bigger than the color of my skin. It’s about the right to be treated equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, class, religion, belief, gender, language, sexual orientation or other status. Yet all too often we hear heartbreaking stories of people who suffer cruelty simply for belonging to a “different” group, and we do nothing about it.
Last year Christian religious leaders came together in Willemstad to denigrate LGBTQ people because they want the same rights as heterosexual couples (1). We pretty much stayed quiet and continued going to heir houses of worship. In silence we daily witness fellow citizens discriminate against people (especially women) from Dominican Republic, Colombia and Venezuela. We get enraged when another race discriminates us, yet discrimination among people of color based on the shade of blackness – the light-skin preference- is common practice in our community.
Racism and discrimination against people belonging to a “different” group is not a uniquely U.S. phenomenon. Discrimination against homosexuals is ingrained in Russia and no matter how much Europe tries to hide it, the way it treats the Roma people (Gypsies) is inhuman. Neither is it a matter of black and white or white and nonwhite. Just consider the Rohingya (Myanmar), the Tutsis (Rwanda), the black albino’s (Sub-Saharan Africa), the Burakumin (Japan), Uyghurs (China) or the Hmong (Laos).
What to do? Certainly not keeping quiet or just airing our disgust on Facebook. We need to realize that we are not innocent bystanders. We should call out racism and discrimination not only when our group is the victim but whenever someone is not given equal treatment or opportunity based on race, ethnicity, nationality, class, religion, belief, gender, language, sexual orientation or other status. If we don’t stop this evil we are guilty, we are accomplices.