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You can’t Be A Little Bit Pregnant

I remember the punch line of a joke I heard when I was a child, “How can you be a little bit pregnant?” It was the ending of some hideous racial insult disguised as humor. I grew up in rural south Georgia, when only whites were allowed on the main floor of the local movie theater and the schools were beyond segregated. The only African-Americans I knew as a young child cleaned our home and lived in little shot-gun houses with dirt yards and beautiful sunflowers.

For the first decade of my life, I lived oblivious to discrimination. Only after we moved to Atlanta when I was ten, did I begin to get a glimpse of the larger picture. Only as I became a teenager did I start to become aware of the plight of a whole race of people. Growing up, my parents were strict Republican Baptists. Maybe it was that combination, but other viewpoints were not exactly welcome in our home.

The high school I attended, at that time was 92% white. A mere 8% of the students were African-American. Desegregation was less than five years old when I began high school. Most of the families of the white students at my school had been apart of a mass white exodus from inside the perimeter, a newly build freeway around Atlanta. They had fled plummeting home values created by panic when new neighbors of color moved in.

I’m sure there are many who would deny that a black child of that era suffered any discrimination. After all, they attended the same schools, lived close to the same neighborhoods. They had never been slaves and probably didn’t even have any living relatives who had been. They could ride any bus and sit in any seat.

I would guess though, that if you talked to any of that 8% of students today, they could tell you horror stories of abuse and mistreatment, unfairness and cruelty. While equality for them had become the law, it was not yet the reality. Like the distasteful joke of my childhood, one cannot be a little bit discriminated against. There is either equality or there is not.

I read a blog yesterday day where the author was saying that while he supported gay rights, he could not condone the gay rights movement comparing itself to the discrimination the African-American had suffered. Of course they are not the same. Yet, hate is hate. Unfairness is unfairness. Equal rights are equal rights and discrimination is discrimination.

I belong to an online support group for people who have heart disease. We frequently joke about the inclination to compare our disease to another’s disease, calling it the Hierarchy of Heart Disease. Having had a heart transplant is the Big Daddy of course. Cardiac bypass is number two, with extra points for each additional graft. The list goes on. Not one of us without a heart transplant or needing one would deny that we are in better shape, no matter how ill we are,  than someone whose heart no longer works.

I don’t deny that the plight of the African-American, the German Jew and the Native American has been horrendous. The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender heart just hurts, too. This still is not fair.

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August 11, 2010 - Posted by | The Gay Me | , , , , ,

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