I Refuse To Hate

Today my heart is breaking. As I sit here watching the live video footage of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, tears are streaming down my face. The hate, the anger, and the violence that is taking place right in front of me is enough to bring me to my knees. Here’s the thing; I am usually not the kind of person who shares my political beliefs online. I am not typically known as the one who goes on rants about our government or the people of this nation. However, today I cannot remain silent any longer.

Let me start off by saying one thing that may offend some people: Black Lives Matter. This statement alone has caused so much controversy in the past months. By stating that black lives matter, I am not saying that everyone else’s lives don’t. I am not saying that black lives are more important than white lives or that anyone should be considered above anyone else. My point is simple. The Black Lives Matter movement is not here to offend, belittle, or degrade you. It is simply to make a point. People in the black community have suffered from many injustices that I will never be able to understand. I have never had to endure racist comments in the grocery store line. I’ve never had to be fearful for my life during a routine traffic stop. I never had to grow up in a world that was plotted against me. I am a white female, and whether you believe it or not, I admit to the fact that I have always been blessed with white privilege. When I say that I support the Black Lives Matter movement, what I am saying is that I recognize the injustices that black people in our nation are suffering from today. Slavery may be gone, segregation may be illegal, but racism is still alive and well, and by supporting rallies like the one happening today, we are only lighting their fire and giving them the fuel they need to continue on in this ignorant and hateful mindset.

The thing that breaks my heart more than anything is to know that many of the people supporting this movement publically proclaim to be Christian. It’s sick, it’s twisted, and (excuse my language) truly fucked up that people who preach love and acceptance would use such vulgar and demeaning words and actions towards people of color. In 1 John 3:15, it is written that “everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” John 15 verses 12-15 state “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” 1 John 4:7-8 reads “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Now let me say something that is really going to offend some of you. If you support this movement, this hateful, and nasty protest, then you are not a Christian. God calls us to love everyone. He doesn’t say pick and choose the people that you want to love or judge others based on the color of their skin, no, nowhere in the Bible does it say any of that! God COMMANDS us to love everyone. Period, end of story. There are no excuses that anyone could make that would ever make any of this okay. Hating someone simply for the color of their skin or for the country in which they were born will never be okay. No excuse will ever be good enough.

There is so much more I could say, but let me limit it down to one final statement. I refuse to hate. It really is that simple. If everyone in both our nation and world could come together and rally around this one simple concept, our world would be a much better place. If we could all just look past our prejudices, if would could just learn to appreciate people for who they are, if we could stop using religion, color of skin, and origin of birth as a way to categorize ourselves into who’s the best and who’s not, then just think of how much better life would be! Just imagine a world where everyone could come together in peace and love and acceptance, a world in which no one would ever have to face racial or religious injustices ever again. Sadly, in light of today’s recent events, I can see that our world is far from that reality. However, we should not give up hope. Although I may never live to see a world where everyone is equal, I will spend the rest of my life spreading love to insure that my children will, and I pray that each and every one of you who read this today will do the same.

 

 

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What it Means to be a Woman

7 AM: the alarm blared “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” as Samantha sleepily rubbed her eyes. She let out a lazy yawn and rolled over to shut it off. Sleep threatened to pull her back under, but she forced herself to sit up, carefully placing her perfectly manicured feet onto the plush white rug that adorned her bedroom floor. She paused for a moment, letting the sweet softness greet her toes, before begrudgingly pushing herself to her feet. She glanced at the clock. 7:10 AM. Only one hour and fifty minutes before she had to be at her interview.

Quickly slipping on her favorite pair of slippers and silky black robe, Samantha headed to the kitchen to whip up some breakfast. The room was spinning, but she tried desperately to push away her frayed nerves. As she listened to the sweet sizzle of the bacon cooking in the pan, Samantha could hold back her fear no longer. Today’s interview was the most important interview of her entire career. Working as an editor for her small town’s local newspaper, she had always dreamed of moving to New York City and becoming a writer for one of her favorite magazine company’s The New Yorker. Never in her life, however, had she believed that she’d actually have the chance to pursue this dream. At least, never until three months ago.

After seeing an ad online for a possible job opening at The New Yorker, Samantha had immediately sent in her resume, desperately hoping for a miracle. An entire month had gone by without any word, causing her to almost lose all hope, until that fateful day when she received a phone call from the magazine’s chief editor, Mr. Marks, congratulating her on being one out of three possible candidates for the job. Samantha’s excited shrieks were enough to let everyone in town know of her good fortune. Not wanting to wait any longer, she decided to use this interview as her excuse to leave her small town of Abingdon, Virginia and moved all of her belongings to a small studio apartment located in the heart of the Big Apple. Life in the big city was hard, but Samantha wholeheartedly believed that it was for the best.

As she finished up her breakfast, Samantha glanced at the clock once more. It was almost 7:30, and she knew that she would have to hurry if she was going to be there in time. She hastily threw her dishes in the sink, and raced to the bathroom. Stopping in front of the mirror, she carefully looked herself over. Her long hair rested messily on her pale shoulders, and she self-consciously brushed it into her face to hide her masculine features. She had always resented the way she looked. Her chin was sharp, her eyes looked crooked, her nose was too big, and her lips were too small. She envied the women who had been born with beauty, their flawless smiles and perfect skin mocking her at every corner. Why couldn’t she look like all the other women her age? Why had she been born….like this?

Looking away from the mirror, Samantha pushed away the negative thoughts and stepped into the shower. Letting the warm water trickle down her back, she began to scrub away all her worries. She let the sweet smell of Dove shampoo fill her nostrils as she ran her fingers through her smooth hair. She was not going to let her insecurities ruin her excitement over this day. Samantha had worked hard to get this interview, and now all she wanted to focus on was making a good first impression. Switching off the faucet, she wrapped herself up in a towel and headed to her closet. She had laid out an outfit the night before, but was now unsure of her decision and began to flip through the multitude of dresses hanging in her color-coded wardrobe. She tried on dress after dress, before finally deciding on the same one she had laid out, slipping in over her still-damp hair. She posed in front of her full length mirror, gazing happily at the way the dress made her look. The soft, black fabric flowed freely from her waist, hiding her thin thighs and unshapely hips, and the lacy accents at the top made her lack of breasts much less noticeable. She smiled, proud of the way she looked for the first time in a long time, before making her way back to the bathroom to finish getting ready.

The next step in her beautifying routine was makeup. She had spent countless hours as a teenager watching YouTube videos in order to learn how to create the perfect face, and had finally perfected the art of contouring and winged eyeliner. Looking in the mirror, she began to lather her face in foundation, creating triangles and lines in all the right places before finally blending it all together with her brush. Grabbing her eyeliner, she guided the tip of the pencil over the curve her eye, letting it end in a nice, sharp point. She repeated the process on her other eye before examining her progress in the mirror. Feeling satisfied with the result, she quickly applied her mascara and eye shadow, and then finished off her masterpiece with a light pink lip gloss. Her hair, now mostly dry, flowed softly around her shoulders. Samantha ran her fingers through it to brush out the tangles, and then carefully tied it up into a neat bun at the base of her neck. Stepping back, Samantha looked at herself proudly in the mirror. This was as close to a beautiful women as she was ever going to look, but she was okay with that. For once, she actually felt good about herself.

The clock in the kitchen read 8:15 as Samantha quickly gathered up her purse and resume. Confidence bubbled up inside of her, causing a dazzling smile to spread across her freshly painted face. She stepped out the door of her apartment building at 8:20 and let the morning breeze gently tug at the skirts of her dress. Stepping to the edge of the street, she leaned out to hail a taxi. However, with each gesture she made, more taxis flew past her, almost sending her resume flying from her hands. She tried again, but was ignored once more. Giving up, she sadly walked down the street. Her watch read 8:30. There was no way should could make it there by 9 if she had to walk the whole way. In her brief moment of despair, a bright yellow taxi pulled up to the curve, letting out a sharply dressed man in an expensive looking suit. Thinking fast, she rushed to the taxi, grabbing the door before he could shut it.

“I’m sorry,” she said apologetically, “but I really need to get to an interview.” At first, the man smiled at her, but after getting a closer look, his face quickly turned red, and he hastily rushed away muttering something she could not understand under his breath. Samantha looked down at her dress, wondering if it had blown up in the wind, but everything was perfectly in place. Confused by the man’s reaction, she slipped her way into the backseat of the taxi. “I’m heading to The New Yorker for an interview,” she said to the driver as she shut the door. Without saying a word, he pulled away from the curb and out into the line of traffic. They rode in silence. Samantha, who had been staring out the window, felt a chill run down her spine. She uneasily glanced up at the rearview mirror. For a brief second, her eyes met those of the driver. His icy, judgmental stare made her flinch as his eyes quickly focused back on the road.

What is up with everyone today? She wondered as she self-consciously tugged at the lace on her dress. She began to worry that maybe her dress was not appropriate for an interview, or that maybe there was lipstick on her teeth. Pulling out a small mirror from her purse, she wearily gazed at her reflection, but she couldn’t see what everyone was staring at. It’s just all in my head, she decided, and began to focus on her interview. This was her one chance to finally fulfil her lifelong dream. Her nerves crept back into the corners of her mind, but she pushed them away as the taxi finally came to a stop in front of her destination. As she handed the money to the driver, she noticed that he was avoiding her eyes, but she brushed it off. His rudeness was not going to ruin her self-confidence.

Feeling sassy and beautiful, Samantha strode confidently into the building, walking straight up the skinny blond receptionist at the front desk. Her shiny silver name plate read Mrs. Angela Peters. “I’m here for an interview with Mr. Marks,” she said with a smile. The receptionist slowly lifted her eyes from her magazine before letting them stop on Samantha’s face. Her eyes widened, and she opened her mouth as if to say something before slowly shutting it again. Samantha could feel the confidence oozing out of her as the lady gave her another surprised look.

“Umm…your name?” she asked hesitantly.

“Samantha Hathaway.”

“Do you mean Sam?”

“No…it’s Samantha.”

Angela scrolled through a list of names on her computer, before finally glancing back up at Samantha. “He’ll be with you shortly,” she said hesitantly before pointing her to a seat in the lobby. Samantha made her way to the sofa and took at seat. She smoothed her dress down over her knees and stared back at the receptionist. Angela avoided her eyes and continued to stare down at her copy of the latest issue of The New Yorker. Samantha let her eyes fall back to the floor. What was going on? Why was everyone giving her such strange looks? She hardly had any time to consider the possibilities before a handsome younger man stepped out of a nearby office. He glanced around the lobby before calling out her name.

“Sam Hathaway?” he said, slowly letting his head tilt to the side as he looked her over. His eyes widened slightly, and his lips were pressed into a stern line on his handsomely sculpted face.

“It’s Samantha,” she corrected as she stood up. She reached out her hand, but he looked away, ignoring her small gesture, and waved her into his office. Samantha let her hand quickly sink back to her side as the last of her confidence began to dissipate. Taking a seat, she carefully slid her resume across the desk, and the interview began.

Ms.….Hathaway,” he started. “Why do you want to work for this company?”

“Well, it has always been my dream to work for you, sir,” she began with a small smile. “I’ve been reading The New Yorker for as long as I can remember, and I know that I have the skills necessary to–”

“After reviewing your resume again, I’m not so sure if you’re the right fit for this company,” he interrupted suddenly. Shocked, Samantha stared blankly into his eyes.

“B-but sir, you haven’t even given me a chance! If you’ll just let me prove–”

“I’m sorry, but I think we have already decided on who to give the job to.” As he spoke, he stood and made his way to the door. “However, thank you for your application, and I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.” He made a gesture towards the door as Samantha continued to stare in shock at his face. Slowly pushing herself to her feet, she made her way out the door. Her hands were shaking.

“If I could just have one more chance—” she began, but was greeted with a door to the face. Tears threatened to fall from the corners of her eyes as she gathered her composure and pushed her way past the front desk. Angela gave her a brief glance before quickly looking away.

Out on the street, Samantha made her way to the small coffee shop that was nestled next to the towering office building. The ding of the bell greeted her as she stepped inside. Climbing into the seat at the counter, she asked the waiter for a tall black coffee. Her eyes never met his as she stared blankly at the ugly yellow countertop. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a small child, probably no older than six, curiously looking in her direction. Tired of all the uncomfortable stares she had been receiving all day, she angrily looked back at him. His eyes grew wide, and his little hand reached to tug at his mother’s sleeve.

“Mommy, mommy!” he whispered loudly. “Why is that man wearing a dress?”

Sam watched as all of the color drained from the woman’s face. She quietly scolded her son, before grabbing his hand and pulling him out the door of the shop, muttering her silent apologies as she passed by.

Picking up his coffee, Sam made his way back to his small studio apartment. As he walked in the door, he stepped out of his sleek, black heels and made his way to the mirror. He stared blankly at his reflection. No amount of makeup could hide the masculine features of his face. No dress could hide the bulkiness of his broad shoulders. No amount of hair could make him look like the woman he so desperately felt that he was.

Sam angrily pulled the dress over his head and threw it to the floor. As he sank to his knees, the softness of his fluffy white rug greeted his pale skin. The tears he had been holding back for so long finally began to fall.