While watching the movie “The Butler” I found myself quite uncomfortable during the horrific scenes of racial discrimination.
The movie mixed “real news” footage with Hollywood shots, but I’m old enough to remember: I knew what was real or from a soundstage, and nothing was exaggerated.
Slavery, the beatings, the hangings, the shooting, the flat-out hatred of a people simply because of the color of their skin; it was all real, and it was uncomfortable to watch.
I’ve come to believe that it should be uncomfortable to watch – it should make us want to cover our eyes and not watch; but watch we must.
We need to watch, we need to remember. We need to remember so we never sit back and let these things happen again. We need to make young people of all races watch and understand just what the United States of America once was.
It frightens me that if those of us who are uncomfortable watching such atrocities aren’t vigilant, our nation could slip back into the era of the gun-toting, white hooded wearing, cross-burning vigilantes.
From some of the frightening things I’ve read from the anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-Obama, pro-gun, pro-life, I-want-my-country-back people, we have every reason to be frightened.
There are always Americans who have the capacity to do the right thing – to risk their lives to help those who are unjustly discriminated against. Those who ran the Underground Railroad, those who stood up at Stonewall, those women who spoke out on voting rights for women and birth control, those who continue to speak out on voting rights and health-care and gay rights.
Sadly, there are those who will do whatever – use whatever means possible - to fight to keep people down, and keep them down with no viable means of ever getting up.
I left the movie theater more determined than ever to speak out on injustice when and where I see it. Gay rights, human rights, voting rights, equal rights. Freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to speak: These are not just guaranteed to those who have the money and the power and want to oppress – these rights – these freedoms are guaranteed to every citizen – every citizen.
Those of us who can – must fight – must speak – must never forget.
SDGLN Contributor Barb Hamp Weicksel was born in 1952 in Pennsylvania and moved to California in the early 1980s, where she met her partner Susan. They've been together some 30 years and share the love of Susan's four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her blog, Barb's Gift of Gab, can be found HERE.