Yesterday I read a New York Times article about a fraternity at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Documents were uncovered which revealed that the fraternity had a blatant culture of misogyny, homophobia, and racism. After the story broke, people began sharing their own personal stories on social media. Women and men who had been sexually assaulted by brothers from this house detailed their experiences. Some of the stories are graphic and violent, all of the stories are heartbreaking.
These are our children. Our children are being threatened, harassed, assaulted, raped. Our children are also committing these hateful acts of violence.
Are you surprised? I’m not. These things are happening, everywhere. They have been happening, always. And they are things that have happened to so many people. #metoo
But because of the smallness of the internet-world and the closeness of their online friends and neighbors, our children can now share their stories much faster than we ever could, and with a sense of bravado that comes from growing up on social media, a bravado we never had. They type out their common experiences, word by word. They call people together, one by one. An immediate solidarity occurs, and they begin to take action, step by step. They instantly organize sit-ins, marches, boycotts, civil suits.
Those youngsters who have historically been marginalized; victims of assault, girls, queer boys, trans youth, non-white, non-christian, non-privileged, differently abled, can find others, like them. Those who have been held down against their will, literally and figuratively, can find others who have also been held down, and who rose above, to lift them up.
They can easily find compatriots, simpaticos, and unify their voices and begin to effect change. These are our children, effecting change. Because of them, the powers-that-always-were, and the way-it-always-was are no longer acceptable.
Our children are raising their voices and shamelessly exposing injustice. They are sharing deeply personal stories to raise awareness and emphasize our humanity, with all of its darkness and its light.
So the institutions that were erected by powerful white male hands begin to crumble, brick by brick. Fraternities, Boy Scouts, Sports associations, Churches… And no one in an unearned unwarranted position of power/control over others is safe from the justice that our children are demanding, for everyone, especially those who have long been pushed aside, to the margins.
Our children are writing the next chapters. The stories that were historically written in the margins are slowly taking over the page.