This is NOT okay. I cannot stand by and be silent. Racism does exist. Bigotry does exist. Hatred does exist. We cannot make things better until we accept things need to be changed. I am not here to change anyone's beliefs. I am here simply to put forth some thoughts.
I read this on a dear friend's page about this country that I love and I couldn't agree more: "It's ours. It belongs to all of us. We don't want to "replace" your stories with our stories. We just want all of our stories to be heard and respected. We want justice and fairness to apply to everyone. We want to make this country better TOGETHER."
I implore each of you to take the time to listen to those who are different from you. I promise they don't bite. =) One of the best things that has ever happened to me was Peter getting into grad school in Washington state. I got to meet the most incredible people of different religions or none at all, different sexual orientations, different ethnicity, some immigrants. These people are some of the most kind, loving, selfless, intelligent, humble, hardworking people I know. People who DO live their life in fear. People who can't stop in certain places for gas because of the hatred people have towards their lifestyles. People who are asked, "Who's car is this?" first thing when getting pulled over in their own car because of the color of their skin. Meeting these people has enriched my life. It has also opened my eyes to problems in this world that I have never been exposed to or put much thought towards.
I would also ask that we think before we speak. Racial and religious slurs are offensive, even in joking. Generalizations about religions, identity, or race do not include everyone in that "category". Just be kind for crying out loud.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "No man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ."
These people are our neighbors. Our brothers and sisters. The majority are not looking to change anyone else's lifestyle or beliefs. They want to be heard, accepted, and respected. You don't have to agree with them but you can still be kind and understanding and have conversations and still be friends. And yes, this goes both ways. Both sides need to listen and both sides need to refrain from bulldozing over each other and trying to get them to agree with what they say. It's okay to have different thoughts and opinions. It's what makes things exciting and enriches our lives.
"We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. Our stands and communications on controversial topics should not be contentious. We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence. In doing so, we ask that others not be offended by our sincere religious beliefs and the free exercise of our religion. We encourage all of us to practice the Savior’s Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).
When our positions do not prevail, we should accept unfavorable results graciously and practice civility with our adversaries. In any event, we should be persons of goodwill toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind, including persecution based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or nonbelief, and differences in sexual orientation." -Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Please, don't let the divisions in this country tear us apart anymore than it already has. Treat each other with respect and kindness. Stand up for those who don't have a voice. Always remember that we are children of God and each person is known and cherished no matter what. May we step out of ourselves and see those around us as our Savior sees them.