A pledge to humanity

Tanoya Poulsen

EqualRights RGB
We are all responsible in making our world a more accepting, inclusive place. (Graphic by Maddy VanOrman)

By way of introduction, I am black, female, a STEM major, adopted and bisexual. How many minority groups can I name? I am proud of all of these distinctions, but I refuse to be defined by any one of these things. I am a whole person and strive to be treated as such.

There have been a lot of stories in the news about minorities being marginalized and killed on a “shoot first and ask questions later” policy, not to mention recent coverage of the racist and xenophobic remarks from our republican presidential candidates.

If you think it doesn’t happen in Utah, then think again. Let me tell you about the first time I knew I was black.

I grew up in a multicultural family, my older sister was Mayan Indian, my older brother was Puerto Rican (but looked white) and my younger sister, brother and I were black. I didn’t consider it being different because it had always been this way around me.

We went to the movies one day—me, my dad, two brothers, younger sister and her friend. My dad and my older brother are both white, but me, my sister and my younger brother are black, and my sister’s friend is Asian.

My sister, her friend and my younger brother went to go get candy. There was some candy out on the counter and my younger brother was just pointing at it, suggesting to my sister what they should get. He didn’t even touch it. He then returned back to the movie theater with my sister and her friend.

Moments later the theater manager and a security guard came looking for them. They asked my brother to stand up and empty his pockets, finding nothing they then turned to my sister and I. They accused my brother of passing the candy off to us and made us stand up and empty our pockets.

I hadn’t even been out in the lobby getting the candy. I hadn’t been out of my seat since we sat down.

As my sister’s Asian friend, who had actually been out getting candy, started to stand up the theater manager turned to her and said, “No it’s okay, not you,” and then left.

My older brother and my dad sat and watched the whole thing. They did nothing. It was Edmund Burke who said that, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

That’s why I want to speak now. I think that as many of us who can should enter the fight for the equality of all human beings.

No one should have to live in fear of being treated less than human because of the color of their skin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or the language they speak