The Danger in Being Different

How old were you when you first realised that being different was dangerous? That it was safer to fit in? To wear the right clothes, use the right words, have the right attitude, and do all the right things?

Go to the right school.

Get the right job.

Have the right car.

Marry the right person.

Buy the right house.

Just like everyone else. 

Safety in numbers.

Security in normality.

Danger in difference.

But what if you are “different”? What if you are a unique individual who wants to live your life fully and freely? What price do we pay by staying silent and playing by the rules? What do we sacrifice for the safety and security of sticking with the flock?

Some of us have no choice. We cannot stay silent. We cannot hide our differences. 

Our skin colour, our gender, our sexual identity, our religion, our age, our abilities. 

Your difference may not be visible. You may be able to hide it better than others. But you feel it. You feel that fear of being judged or called out or rejected for being different. 

Being different is not the problem. Fear of judgement is. 

Being bullied is not the problem. The Bully is. 

When we accept racism, we are accepting bullying. When we accept bullies, we live in fear that we will be next. We stay quiet for our safety, but we sacrifice the safety of the group. We allow others to be the victims in the hopes it delays them coming for us. We try to outrun the inevitable. 

Anti-racism offers us another way. Rather than hiding or avoiding the issue, pretending we don’t see the bully and his bad behaviour, we turn and face it. And, in our own ways, we find a way to stop it. 

It’s not enough to claim we’re not bullies – we are all complicit and we are all harmed by our toxic silence – if we all work together, then we all get to be free together. 

Beat the bullies.

Beat racism.

Be free to be yourself.

The Process of Becoming Anti-Racist:

(c) John T. Milliken Department of Medicine

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