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Our Differences Do Not Have To Become Our Divisions

The article, Our Differences Do Not Have To Become Our Divisions, was written by Jessica DeBruin and posted June 20, 2016 on Everyday Democracy‘s site. DeBruin wrote this article in memory of the 49 victims from the Orlando massacre at Pulse nightclub, an LGBTQIA club. In the article, DeBruin shares her experience as a queer person in the aftermath of the massacre and calls for the urgent need to improve the civic process by demanding the need to ensure the voices of marginalized folks are at the table in an authentic way. She gives explicit ideas on how to do this by listening to affected communities, ensuring the mic is shared, and directly challenging and interrupting violence [in all forms].

Below is an excerpt from the article and read it in full on Everyday Democracy’s site here.

From the article…

It may be near impossible for all of us, even allies, even queer folk, to comprehend how we have internalized and acted out these violences on a daily basis – but it is essential that we begin to do so. When good people witness hate speech and say nothing, we have participated in that hate. By failing to challenge hateful narratives we become complicit to them. When we cling to compartmentalized notions of identity, we erase the experiences of people who live at the intersection of multiple group identities.

We will slip up. We will do all these things on occasion because these concepts have been with us most of our lives. Our progress will be imperfect, but we must continue to push ourselves to do better.

Where do we begin this process?

We begin with acknowledgement. We must acknowledge that on some level, great or small, we have all internalized homophobia. We acknowledge that the gender roles which some of us find comfort in, do not necessarily apply to or benefit us all. We acknowledge that institutional racism and colorism hold us all back, and rob us of the opportunity to better connect with one another.

Next we hand the mic to affected communities.

We uplift and magnify the voices of the marginalized, those who have been on the receiving end of violence.

We listen.

We listen to them, we listen to each other. We cannot feign deafness to avoid inconvenience or discomfort. If you consider yourself an ally to the queer, or any marginalized community, it is past time that you recognize that yielding the mic is one of the most powerful things you can do to support us.

Of course even within these communities, there are myriad factions, and perspectives and experiences. This touches upon a fundamental need for the creation of civic culture where people from all walks of life can come together in respect to share our experiences, to hear other people’s lived realities, and to find a way to work together.

We must find a place where we can acknowledge and uplift these differences. We must recognize that our differences do not have to become our divisions. A democracy that is alive and thriving should facilitate this kind of communal meeting of minds. This is what American core values should be.

In 1970 the grassroots implementation of this kind of dialogue between radically different queer communities produced the first Pride Marches. In cities across the nation, LGBTQIA folk came together to stand and be counted. They took tragedy and oppression and turned it into a celebration of being.

We are faced with a similar opportunity to continue this difficult work today. May we not shy away from it. May we instead use it to fuel action and positive change. May we instead practice the democracy of earnest and inclusive civic dialogue, so that on the other side of it we can emerge stronger than the sum of hatred and indifference.

Read the article in full here.

About Jessica DeBruin
Jessica is a writer and actress living in Los Angeles, dedicated to creating feminist, queer-inclusive art and media.

Follow on Twitter: @JessicaLaVerdad

About Everyday Democracy
Everyday Democracy
Everyday Democracy (formerly called the Study Circles Resource Center) is a project of The Paul J. Aicher Foundation, a private operating foundation dedicated to strengthening deliberative democracy and improving the quality of public life in the United States. Since our founding in 1989, we’ve worked with hundreds of communities across the United States on issues such as: racial equity, poverty reduction and economic development, education reform, early childhood development and building strong neighborhoods. We work with national, regional and state organizations in order to leverage our resources and to expand the reach and impact of civic engagement processes and tools.

Follow on Twitter: @EvDem

Resource Link: www.everyday-democracy.org/news/our-differences-do-not-have-become-our-divisions

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