On April 1st, 1998, Coretta Scott King said these thoughtful words: “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group.”
The widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King knew all too well the effects of bigotry, repression, and victimization. Throughout her life, she was an important person in campaigns for civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights … Human Rights. Her words quoted above are words that cannot be repeated or stressed enough, and they say something beyond their appearance on the page. What these words say is that there are people in this world who understand not just what equality means, but what equality is.
At a time when nations are split by prejudice and bigotry, we have to understand that equality is a way of life in which all people are afforded the same rights and freedoms. Beyond that, equality requires an acceptance (not tolerance) of diversity and difference. It requires us to throw away our biases and focus on humanity. With those we do not understand, we must engage. With those we fear, we must approach in kindness and humility. With those in power, we must respectively question. The condition for this way of life, and in return the result of it, is understanding. To understand equality is a wonderful thing, but to understand one another is what equality is all about. Coretta Scott King knew and understood this. Until all of humanity follows suit, equality will exist only as an unobtainable ideal … an ideal that sits useless when un-adopted. All we need do is ask ourselves if we are willing to let go of our biases and prioritize the dignity of others over our notions of them.