Monday, June 13, 2016

Turning Tears into Human Rights

I miss the 1980's, I really do. We had cool things like this:
Thank you, Artists Against Apartheid.

For those of you new to this, that is a group of music artists coming together to protest the long-gone and thankfully-buried system of Apartheid, and tell the world they aren't going to play a resort in the 1980's under that regime. Today, South Africa (and Sun City) have changed remarkably for the better, and it is an example of how things can change given positive social activism and groups of people on both sides who want to do the right thing. I like to think the pressure applied by this video, along with the heroic efforts of social activists and progressive politicians who had the courage to stand up and do say "this is wrong" had something to do with this change.

Today's music artists? Frankly, by comparison, they are a bunch of do-nothing, money-grabbing pussies.

We have a situation today which parallels the injustice of Apartheid, the state-sanctioned criminalization and execution of homosexuals and transgendered people. We have seen these hateful forces visit our shores recently, targeting a group of people who choose to express love just for how they wish to love. This isn't just limited to one religion or belief system, as there are many countries which persecute gays for how they wish to express freedom and love. This is a world-wide problem across many countries, religions, and continents.

Where are those who stand up and refuse to play these places? Where are the sanctions? Where are the calls to boycott companies, to limit trade, and to shut down banking with states with anti-homosexual policies? Where are the bills allowing homosexuals persecuted in these countries to apply for asylum here, in the land of the tolerant and free? Where are the open arms? Where is the outrage?

Where?

...

I hear silence.

I see nothing.

I see artists playing in these places. Silent. Taking the money and saying thank you.

Thank you for persecuting homosexuals, and remember to buy my record! Please go on with the executions and imprisonment. Let's do a concert! Where's my check again?

Just like Apartheid, silence equals support. Supporting companies who do business with them means support. Supporting politicians who say and do nothing for years means support.

There are no excuses here.

Your silence is damning.

As a consumer, I have a choice of who I do business with. Companies and artists who support such policies and regimes should be called out. Even if nothing changes, at every time we deal with such places they should be reminded that they are outside the accepted behaviors of the civilized world, and we should demand progress, step by step. Even if we don't get artists and politicians to speak up, the grassroots can shame those who shame us with their support of these policies.

Shame.

Shame on you.

We have forgotten the power of these words.

It starts with us. It always does. We remember those who stood silent for too long while this injustice happened. We remember those who wore our cause on their sleeve just to get a couple votes, and then did nothing when they had real power to make change. We understand, you are powerless, beholden, and afraid. When the time comes, we will not pull that lever and vote for you. When the time comes, we will be a more educated consumer and not buy products which come from these places or companies that do business with them. When the time comes, we shall question why you performed in a place that persecutes people for who they love, and maybe we won't buy that next album of yours.

Your silence signifies your support.

The grassroots will stand up here, and do the right thing. Change is possible. If a hateful system like Apartheid can be replaced with something better which brings equality and fairness to all, I have hope in this world. I have hope in the voices which cry out for justice and equality. I have hope for the people that live in these places to join a more accepting, free, loving, and peaceful world. I feel it is a war that can be won without violence or hatred, without insulting someone else on social media, or one bomb dropped or one bullet fired.

It just requires one word, no, to be said again and again. It requires our money not to be spent with supporters of these policies. It requires representatives who do more than just talk.

But it starts with one person saying, "I have a choice."

And that person is you.