Thursday, February 5, 2015

ZERO is the goal

It's 9:40 in the evening and I just finished my homework. I'm finally finishing my Bachelor's degree, just in time for my 50th birthday in May.  I'm a masochist because I'm taking accelerated, 8-week classes, four at a time, to finish quickly.  I cannot wait for this 8-week session to end.  The courses that I thought would be so interesting are just plain making me mad, mad, mad.

One is on sociology and another is on ethics in management. Both topics are zeroing in on discrimination and all its forms: gender, age, orientation, race, ethnicity…ad infinitum.  Any attempt to have a real discussion among my online peers is met with the sound of crickets chirping.  Oh, lest I forget-one person did respond to my post about sexism to say that it was some people's "perspective."  As if pay disparity is up for interpretation: "You say Po-tay-toe, I say Po-tah-toe."

Another guy actually wrote that "racism isn't as much of a problem anymore." Any people of color who care to chime in on this?  Any female people of color care to chime in?  Or, how about the triple whammy: any transgender female people of color care to comment?  The fact of the matter is that a person's "perspective" tends to be skewed by which end of the racism, sexism, or any other "ism" specter one is on.  I would be surprised to hear a natal white man say of black people, "Hey, it ain't so bad for you people anymore. It's not like people are burning crosses in your yard nowadays."  True, but black kids are getting shot, without real provocation, nearly exclusively as a race, by figures of authority who are almost exclusively white.

Or on my asking a D.C. firefighter, who was trying to recruit new hires, what it's like being a female firefighter in D.C., to have him reply that they have "this one" who is great and they "let her" hang with them.

So yes, President Obama mentioned transgender people and yes, it was glorious.  But clearly, that has not laid LGBT discrimination to rest-it has served only as a wake-up call.

I'm a paramedic/firefighter and I tend to equate many things to paramedic analogies.  If you find that is annoying, read no further.  I teach new EMTs and paramedics too and I've found a common mistake among such folk is thinking that persons having a heart attack who are experiencing little pain, or an improvement in pain need no further intervention in the form of medication administration.  That is WRONG.  It's wrong as wrong can be, actually. If a person has chest pain equal to a 3 on a scale of 10, or her pain is down to a 4 from a 6, that does not mean we stop treating the chest pain, because ANY pain means the problem is still ongoing.  It's just seems like it's gotten better.  The goal is ZERO pain and we keep plugging away at reducing the pain as long as the patient can tolerate it, until we reach ZERO. Nada. Zilch.

The same is true for "isms."  Yes, improvement is desirable; it's encouraging and gives us incentive to keep fighting the good fight.  But it does not mean the "danger" has passed, because it has not.  It's just masquerading as being a "lesser" problem, which is even more dangerous, if you ask me.

So, we don't rest on our laurels. (What are laurels, anyway?  Shouldn't an author know the meaning of the words she uses?  Isn't that a rule somewhere?) We rejoice in the important step forward, and then say, "Nope, not good enough." That's right-we stay dissatisfied until the world is equally satisfying to those who are getting ripped off from enjoying what other people get to enjoy simply because their chromosomes and their brains don't agree.

There will be a backlash, and likely more than one.  But that can't stop progress.  You moms and dads out there who are helping your kids in being who they truly are- you folks have to be the warriors for your kids.  As if I'm telling you something you don't already know!! And you adults who have bravely lived hidden, and equally bravely refuse to hide anymore, you too are entitled to all of it.  The whole shebang- acceptance, love, marriage, child-rearing, work, education, safety, physical health and emotional wellness, by God-happiness, even. So yes, keep pushing that envelope. Any level of discrimination, exclusivity and hate above a zero means the problem is still threatening, and is therefore unacceptable. Keep fighting the good fight :)