None of us is free until all of us are free

​I never came out of a closet, I just met someone. Loving my ex girlfriend Anne was so natural to me that I didn’t have to get used to being with a woman at all.
Gladly my family and friends didn’t either, but the rest of the world seemed to have a harder time accepting.
Choosing who you love, does not change who you are. It just changes the way people treat you.

I learned over and over again in life that people are reduced to what sets them apart from the standard and are judged on how the entire group is perceived.

In my struggle for more equality and justice, I am strongly driven by this feeling of being misunderstood, of not fitting in any box.
Of don’t belonging.
Of not being good enough as you are.

This is what I understood: you can join, but you have to adapt to our norms and values.
There are quite a few conditions to be accepted in this world.

Today, Black Lives Matter managed to draw attention to the most disturbing and dysfunctional side of our society: institutional racism and in particular anti black racism.
The movement is reshaping mainstream values in how people of colour, specifically Black people, are treated.

Everybody knows George Floyed’s name now
And that is an incredible important thing
But how many people know the name of Tony McDade, a black Transgender man, who was shot and killed by police in Tallahassee in May this year.

This year’s pride is an incredible opportunity to teach ourselves and each other on the importance of understanding intersectionality.
It’s time to not only be aware of the resistance that we face
but also learn about the privileges we have

I identify as a cis-woman
That may be hard,
but is nothing compared to what transgender women experience in a men’s world

My sexual orientation is fluid
That may be challenging,
but nothing compared to what gay men experience in a straight world

I am bi-racial
that may be difficult,
but nothing compared to what black people experience in a white world

It is important to learn about different layers of oppression
And when and how they meet

Not to compare my pain to yours
But to feel your pain as mine

We all know that liberation is not a given but fought hard for
And that no one is really free
Until we all are

Progress comes from moving beyond fighting our own battle
And joining those where it seems at first we have nothing to gain

So be that cis-man that fights for transgender women’s rights

Be the gay person who battles transphobia

Be the white cis-girl standing up against black oppression

Knowing your privileges,
Means knowing your influence

Use that influence
To be better

Talk to people you disagree with.
Don’t try to convince them they’re wrong, because they might not be.
They just have different views. The only way forward is to understand where these ideas come from.

How can you be fighting for inclusion and preaching for different perspectives if you are not able to make space for views that do not mirror yours?

Ask questions. And be willing to answer.

Don’t listen to people who tell you what you cannot do, but listen to people who tell what can be done.

Push yourself, but don’t push anyone else. Radical new thinking needs time. Nobody changes their mind overnight.

Plant a seed. Allow it time to grow.

Be patient with others, but be impatient with yourself. We have no time to lose.

Look at your friends. Do they all look like you? Do they all dress, talk and dance like you? Find new friends.

Challenge your clients. Speak to the part of them that wants to do better.

Speak out about your experiences and never question the experience of others.

Ask colleagues to have your back. Provide support to who needs it the most.

Observe. Listen. Speak. Learn. Educate. Teach. Act. Donate. Share. Support. Fund. Defund.

The possibilities are endless.

The result will be mindblowing.

Don’t wait for change to happen.

Make it happen where and when you can.

Words by Nadine Ridder / Photo by Mike Von / Title by Emma Lazarus

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