There is not a day in the news lately that we don’t see gun violence; hate involving race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious differences; or class battles between the privileged who own the financial power of the world and the large majority of the population who are silenced in poverty or due to lack of education. It is estimated by the UN that in the coming years, one out of three people on the planet will live in a slum like Kibera in Kenya or Dharavi in India.
In the United States, one of the most powerful countries on the planet, we may not have slums like those on the other side of the ocean; but, we do have an increasing number of people displaced from financial security and safety by the constant threat of an unstable economy triggered by Wall Street and the large corporations who have silenced the voice of the individuals. We are kept busy surviving the everyday challenges of paying the rent, bringing groceries to the table, and accessing education. These everyday challenges have created disagreement about what diversity, inclusion, and freedom means for each of us; our country was founded by the values of freedom and of democracy. We, the people, have the right to be respected and included in all processes of our democracy.
These concepts seem to be now distorted by the vast differences that all of us represent: race, gender, religion, disability status, ethnic background, sexual orientation, beliefs or lack of beliefs, etc. We seem to not be able to achieve respect, equality, freedom, or democracy our founding fathers were looking for.
We are facing a country with easy access of sophisticated guns on the streets, the media profiling and promoting the speech of the status quo, and recent generations blasted by the constant challenges of trying to achieve a peaceful future in where they can express themselves, develop their skills and accomplish their dreams as human beings. We have new generations who are under deep stress triggered by war, an unstable worldwide economy that only benefits a minority, and the constant projection of our differences and diversity as reasons to fight and kill each other.
We are often pitted against each other due to our basic differences that should make us stronger, and not weaker. We get caught up and ignore the bigger picture and just follow what seems to be the immediate reality via social media and the TV. We are not thinking anymore; we are just blaming one another while the status quo maintains the power in place.
We don’t have slums in United States. No, we don’t. What we have is chaos on the streets and overpopulated prisons with people who cannot access education, afford a good attorney, or lack access to medical services to manage a mental illness. The dialogue has been broken and we are distracted by the 6 PM news presenting us the truth. Is it?
We need to stop this madness, this nonsense that makes us weak and makes the broken institutions more powerful right in front of our faces while we continue fighting because of our differences and our human diversity.
Our differences must make us stronger, not weaker. We must open the dialogue again. We need to focus on the important issues: freedom, education, a fair paying job, access to medical care, food on the table, access to a working bathroom where we won’t be discriminated, the possibility to reside in a place where each of us can feel safe, accepted, respected, healthy, dignified, and proud.
The planet belongs to us, a diverse population of humans who seem to no longer be able to talk amongst each other.
Enough is enough. It is time to wake up and start changing, day by day, starting at home: with our neighbors, with our voice, and with our vote. Let’s sit at the table and begin a new conversation that can prevent a future in which one in three people on the planet will be confined to live in a slum, or be incarcerated as a result of social injustice, or be killed due to their gender expression, or their faith, or just by the color of their skin.
It is time to talk to one another! Not hate or kill. It is time to look for peace and respect.
Born in Mexico City, Dri Batista became part of the LGBT movement in the early 80s. As a journalist, Dri worked for El Dia and La Jornada newspapers in Mexico writing about women, youth and LGBT issues. In 1984 he coauthored the book title “Liberacion Homosexual” (Posada Press, 1984) to later produce comic books in diverse youth, LGBT and health issues. Dri’s works and poetry have been published in diverse newspapers and magazines in Mexico, USA and Canada. Today, he works as a Health Coach and started his journey as a trans-gender non conforming person who identifies as he/they. Dri continues to be active in the LGBT community; he recently was invited to provide a Trans-Cultural training for Mental Health providers for Kaiser Permanente Southern California region with the goal to educate providers about the Latino trans community and the cultural characteristics and health needs of this population. Dri has participated in BUTCH Voices workshops in the past, and currently serves as a member of the BUTCH Voices Board.
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