It is quite amazing how much hatred flows throughout America on a daily basis; numerous marginalized groups of people are subjected to violence, ridicule, oppression, and even death, for just being. This is not what America is supposed to be about! Our country says it is the land of the free and home of the brave, right?
So why is it that unless you happened to have been born white and cisgender in America, your simple existence is targeted? The heritage of our Asian Pacific Islanders friends is supposed to be celebrated and highlighted this month. That is happening… but why do you think they need a month of celebration anyway? It is because they are marginalized due to their differences; this month is a way to ensure their existence in a celebratory fashion. Next up, in June, is Pride month. It has been celebrated for the past several decades because our LGBTQIA+ friends are regularly attacked due to their sexual orientation. How and why are states implementing laws designed to oppress transgender people? How is that necessary? The answer is: It is absolutely unnecessary.
Far too often, citizens of our country lash out against those that they deem unworthy, different, not Christian, or the wrong color. The time is now to combat and fight these discriminatory laws and other injustices.
Next month also marks Juneteenth, which is the actual end of African American enslavement in this country. As the only group of people to be fully enslaved on this land, and who just a little more than 50 years finally gained civil and voting rights, I am proud to celebrate that day; but I am also angered whenever someone mentions that we need to “get over” slavery and systemic racism. Quick note: I am 45 years old, but my grandparents did not get the right to be full citizens until only 55 years ago. Please let that sink in.
This message is to continue highlighting injustices that must be fought, and to celebrate the marginalized. I salute my Asian Pacific Islander, LBGTQIA+, Hispanic/Latinos, other People of Color, and most definitely my Black brothers and sisters in the struggle! And I appreciate our white, straight and cisgender friends who are not just being allies, but who are focused on disrupting and tearing down this system of oppression that negatively affects the marginalized.
Bertram L. Lawson II
President & CEO
YMCA of Central New York