I need to say a huge thank you to friend, activist, and LGBT ally, Bruce Kestelman for nominating Eileen for HWA. Honestly, Bruce needs to also be celebrated as HWA also for many of the same reasons we are celebrating Eileen.
Standing up for Social Justice seems like it would just be obvious and easy. Working to ensure space for equity and equality and treating all humans with dignity and respect feels like it should be a no brainer. Sadly, this is not the case. I suspect all of us have too often witnessed very ugly behavior on different social media sites around human and civil rights issues. I know I have seen my fair share of awful, nasty, ugly behavior on Facebook and on LinkedIn around the issues of racial equity and marriage equality. Garbage that I will not bother to repeat here spews forth from the foaming mouths and frantic fingers of bigots everywhere.
Delightfully, within all of this muck there are gems I find that need to be celebrated. People with tenacity, grace, and perseverance that gracefully — and at times with great wit — work hard to interrupt oppression. Eileen Peterson is someone who does not shy away from social justice issues. I admit that there have been times when comments get so ugly, I throw my hands up in despair and walk away from interrupting oppressive comments. I recently read a thread on LinkedIn regarding marriage equality and I have to say that Eileen Peterson won my heart over. She does not use accusatory or inflammatory language, but she does try to hold people accountable for their behavior and she asks great clarifying questions that help to expose they hypocrisy within people’s arguments.
Today I felt the need to celebrate the individual and collective voices that work with great respect and dignity to interrupt oppression. Everyday people like Eileen, Bruce, Jennifer Carey, and the amazingly large list of friends I have had the honor and privilege to know in the past two years, need to be celebrated for their dedication to social justice and fierce determination to eradicate racism, homophobia, misogyny, and poverty. I applaud you all!
Honorable mention this week goes to the Peace Corps. Reversing a long-standing discriminatory practice, the Corps announced this week that it will allow same-sex couples to apply for joint service. Married heterosexual couples have been able to do so all along. The Peace Corps could have waited for DOMA to fall; instead, they took a proactive step and will usher in equality starting next month. Nicely done!