, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I am not always sweet or kind when it comes to equality, discrimination, feminism, racism, and the treatment of the mentally ill.

I spend a good portion of every day on social media. One of the reasons I do that is to try to learn more about the intersection of mental illness with other marginalized populations. (I frequently find that I have a long way to go in understanding the best way to be an advocate for the mentally ill, women, people of color, and people who identify as LGBTQ). I’m not a perfect advocate for any cause, but I’m learning (as slow as that process is).

What I see on social media every day is that people like to feel good. They love to share cat videos, baby videos, and inspirational quotes. If you try to point out when someone has said something offensive, or ignorant, you can almost be sure that you will encounter a dismissive response like, “You are too sensitive” or “don’t take things so seriously.” I have seen a meme on Facebook that has made the rounds that says, “2015 will go down as the year that everyone took offense at everything.” I frequently hear people complain that everything has become too “politically correct.”

These dismissive responses are intended to silence the people who are speaking out. They allow people to go along with a status quo that they are comfortable living with because more often than not, that status quo benefits them in some way. If they were the ones being made fun of, put down, discriminated against, bullied, etc. then they would have a different experience (and one that can at times make people appear angry).

I like cat videos and baby videos. I also like inspirational and motivational quotes. That isn’t all the world is, though. I don’t have to feel good about everything. Injustices are happening daily and to turn our back on those injustices to make ourselves feel good is cowardly and insensitive. It also helps injustice to flourish.

We can’t always be polite, kind, silent, and agreeable. If we are going to address the tough issues that occur all around us every day, we need to speak out even if that makes people uncomfortable, even if it isn’t the “polite” thing to do. It may not be “polite” but it is just, and it is right.

I say some very unpopular things. I have lost some friends over it, but when it comes to erring on the side of “feel good” or the side of social justice and equality, I’m going to take a stand for the tough stuff even if that means I have fewer followers on Facebook.

I don’t mind making people uncomfortable. I am a person who is marginalized every day because of an illness in the same way that some people are marginalized for their skin color, or for their gender, or for their sexual orientation. None of us chose the things society uses to hold us back, see us as less than, or define us as “other.”

Because we didn’t choose these things, we are not to blame for them, and they are not wrong. I ask you to please not be among those who dismiss someone when they point out offensive speech, degrading comments, racist attitudes, jokes that were never funny, and bullying.

I know it isn’t as funny as a cat video or as uplifting as an inspirational quote. It is, however, the reality of millions of people, and I believe that we all want people to have the same chance to be safe, educated, employed, respected, valued, protected, and accepted as others. Who wouldn’t want that? Justice and equality are two of the most inspirational things that can exist. You can quote me on that.