Friday, March 25, 2016

NC Bellydance and Activism

Last night I attended a rally with 500+ North Carolinian's who were protesting a law passed yesterday that, among other things, prevents local municipalities from passing anti-discrimination laws protecting transgender citizens. This is embarrassing, disheartening and in general a real downer so why am I writing about it in a bellydance blog that claims to promote "joy and happiness in your personal relationships."

Protest rally last night in Raleigh, photo credit: John Golchin

That is a good question.

There are people in our dance community who are gay, lesbian, transgender, gender fluid, gender queer and/or just don't buy into the binary gender thing and we should support them!  But that is not the reason.

I am the Mom of a lesbian teenager and I want everyone to understand that a world filled with fear and hate is no kind of world for her to grow up in.  So true, but that is not the reason.

My daughter and I at an LGBT march

I consider ATS (R) a feminist form of bellydance because of the emphasis placed on shared leadership, supporting other dancers by using clear communication, and accepting everyone without regard to size, shape, ethnicity, sexual orientation...  But that is still not the reason.

I am a social worker who teaches other social workers about the importance of standing up for marginalized and oppressed populations.  Not the reason.

My students at NCSU School of Social Work

My boyfriend is a Muslim who immigrated to the US as a child.  That means in this political climate the people I love are getting slammed from every direction.  How can people not see that these issues are all connected?  Even that isn't the reason.

My boyfriend and me

The reason it is important to talk about this issue in a bellydance blog is the same reason it is important to talk about while waiting on your daughter to finish dance class and while waiting for your oil change and while cooling down at the gym.  The reason it is important to talk about can be summarized best by Pastor Martin Niemöller when he talked about personal and collective responsibility in WWII.

 “In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.” --Pastor Martin Niemöller, 1945

I just listed all the reasons I have to speak up and they are good reasons.  Maybe you don't have a Muslim boyfriend or a lesbian daughter, but if we don't talk about homophobia and transphobia, racism and sexism, economic disparity and all of the other issues that are important to our brothers and sisters NOW, then when?

I will leave you with one final quote:

"We must always take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."  Elie Wiesel

by Lisa Allred, LCSW
Opinions are my own.  Well, Terri agrees too.