Today’s Heroes: The Fight for Equality

Sean is back for another guest piece which touches on a lot of issues that has to deal with the different types of people who have to battle for their place in society, much like anyone else who has been on the outside looking in in terms of being different. I’ll let him tell the story. Enjoy & Follow him on Twitter (@HeelRoberson)

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I rose out of bed Monday morning, and no sooner than I could wipe the sleep from my eyes, I grabbed my phone for my daily routine Twitter check. As my eyes peered down my timeline, searching for the latest Fred Hoiberg-to-Chicago news, I scrolled across the Vanity Fair cover you couldn’t miss.

556c7a214ae56e586e457d37_vf-cover-bruce-jenner-july-2015It was the introduction of Caitlyn Jenner. Nearly 40 years removed from her Olympic run of 1976, Bruce Jenner graced the magazine’s July cover in her first photo-shoot since transitioning from male to female 18 months ago. The Annie Leibovitz-photographed shoot revealed the real Bruce – a new name, a new body, and a new person; someone who looked like she’d just escaped a 65-year-old prison. Most of the world cried out in support of Caitlyn, praising the beloved father of four for embracing her true self. Caitlyn has been struggling with who she is for her entire life. This is her chance to “slay” the competition.

Then came the outrage: the collection of hate mongers, religious objectifiers and transphobic men (and some women, even) voicing their disgust of a woman finally free of her shell. Because she was different. It’s absurd to think society would be so far behind the curve in 2015, yet here we are. While the LGBT community still fights for acceptance, African Americans are still fighting for respect. On the same day tensions rose at a “Blue Lives Matter” rally in Baltimore, where dozens of police sympathizers clashed with a small group of black protesters, national headlines were circulating about the death of teenager Laquan McDonald, who was shot to death 16 times by a Chicago police officer in October. Authorities are investigating whether several officers erased significant video footage that could explain what went down leading up to McDonald’s death.

When the statistics are right in your face (a white officer killed a black person nearly twice a week on average during a 7-year period, according to USA Today) and the instances of police brutality in America become more prevalent in the national spotlight, it’s baffling to hear the inherently racist mindset of certain Americans on the subject. The ardent denial of white male privilege, the insinuation that minorities don’t work hard enough to earn what they deserve, or that blacks are playing the “race card” starts to peel back the veil on the prejudice, and cowardly, beliefs that outlasted the Civil Rights era and trickled down to generations like my own.

Like Caitlyn Jenner and fellow LGBT advocates, minorities are fighting the battle for peace and equality in a world of people who hate them, because they are different. Charles Xavier would be proud. Longtime comic book writer Chris Claremont once said “the X-Men are hated, feared and despised collectively by humanity for no other reason than that they are mutants. So what we have here, intended or not, is a book that is about racism, bigotry and prejudice.” The conflict minorities face in the real world strongly mirrors the challenge Professor X and other homo superiors face in the fictional Marvel universe. Humanity renounces them because of their unique abilities. Adolescents conceal their powers out of fear of rejection, hiding behind the mask of normalcy, unable to express whom they really are. They are ostracized because of what they are – But mutants aren’t restricted to Xavier’s School of Gifted Youngsters; they live amongst us. You won’t find the modern day X-Men in a comic book or on the silver screen. Storm is rallying human rights activists in Union Square, while Jean Grey instructs the Twitterverse on tolerance and understanding.

The real heroes are the freedom fighters with intellect in their brains and love in their hearts. For every William Stryker, there is a Wolverine. And for every individual who’s been programmed to hate, there’s someone unafraid to stand up for what they believe in and be themselves. That’s what Caitlyn Jenner and every activist for black lives is accomplishing in the present day. Two decades ago, Jenner would’ve faced widespread backlash and been called a freak. The men and women on the frontlines of rallies and protests across America, more often than now, would be labeled thugs and rabble rousers. Now, the world is more accepting of “others”; the outspoken minority has a voice, and it’s loud and boisterous. The fight for equality is long and arduous, but the right leaders are in place to win this war.

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