Throughout the history of the United States, equality for all people has been fought for and won time and time again. Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence ”that all men are created equal,” and over time equal rights have been gradually extended to different groups of people. However, equality has never been achieved without heated debate, despite our country’s founding principle that all people are created equal in the first place.
The language used to seek equality has remained familiar over time. Posters demanding equal rights (pictured) contain messages we have all seen or heard. One of my theories is that since the human life span is finite, the message of equality has to be relearned by each generation as it comes to realize that more work needs to be done.
If humans lived longer, would full equality across racial and gender lines have been acquired by now? Ask yourself: Would women suffragists from the 1920s, who so vehemently demanded the right to vote, think it was fine for African Americans to be denied this same right? It depends. My theory also includes the caveat that empathy for others does not always translate into citizens banding together for the greater good. Then again, the social evolution of the United States is progressing. This progression is the reason the language and message of equality remains relevant.
On her blog, author Shannon Hale takes a look at the lack of girls in children’s movies, the limited roles they play, and an appeal to parents: take your sons to movies with girl heroes. The same goes for books and the same goes for other types of diversity: give the children you know books with heroes who don’t look like them.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those in Haiti, and those with family or friends there. Remember when giving to relief efforts that only nonprofits who already have operations in Haiti are situated to give immediate assistance. Aid Watch brings an explanation of why this is the case and suggestions for how to respond, and the U.S. State department is offering a super-easy way to donate: “text ‘HAITI’ to ‘90999’ and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill.” Via Ta-Nahisi Coates, Haitian American Evan Narcisse writes about what Haiti means to him, and about its role as the first black republic and fusion of art forms that makes it an amazing place.
Every week, we’re going to be bringing you a roundup of interesting articles, commentary, and projects dealing with diversity—race, gender, immigration issues, discrimination, and people bridging cultural barriers.
From Genreville, Josh Jasper discusses the problem of lazy sexism and racism, when women and minorities are excluded not due to conscious bias, but due to a lack of awareness and thought. “Oh, it just happens that all the good stories we found were written by men/white people/middle-class people.” That sort of thing. Also see a follow-up post and this bingo card of excuses for racism. It’s talking specifically about fantasy, but the same excuses get used in many other genres.
I’ve been looking a lot at the Job Voyager, a nifty interactive chart of the U.S. labor force from 1850 through 2000. On it, you can see the number of farmers and farm workers decreasing fairly steadily and the number of clerical workers rising. You can see the percentage of women in workforce increasing, with an impressive leap between 1950 and 1960. A fascinating fact: until 1950, one could claim “inmate” as an occupation on one’s census form. Likewise “retired.” Some professions, like blacksmith, have basically disappeared, while others, like electrician, have emerged. Aside from a spike in 1990, the percent of public officials has been fairly constant.