By Senator Lena C. Taylor
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
If it seems like there is something in the air, there is. A chill, inauspicious brashness of intolerance, disdain and blatant hate is wafting through communities and legislative bodies.
Reports of hate crimes are on the rise, and nearly every group is in the crosshairs.
I was in utter disbelief last month when I learned that a group of neo-Nazi groups from across the nation tried to proclaim Feb. 25, 2023, a National Day of Hate. According to an article in The Pilot, they challenged like-minded social media groups to “join in a day of mass anti-Semitic action” by hanging banners, spray-painting Swastikas and scattering fliers and stickers with incendiary messages about Jewish people.
Last week in Uganda, lawmakers passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act. The bill which is headed to their President’s desk, imposes severe punishments on anyone who engages in same-sex relationships. The law, if enacted, would be the first to outlaw even identifying as LGBTQ. Family members and acquaintances, who allow LGBTQ individuals to meet in their homes or refuse to turn them in to authorities, could be jailed. In addition, death penalties are suggested for some transgressions.
I thought about these things as I recently attended the 25th anniversary of the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center. Originally established in 1996 and opened in 1998, the Center was created to be a community resource, place of refuge, and hub for Milwaukee’s LGBT population.
Serving as an innovator and problem solver, they interface with many of the social issues that center members navigate. They provide tools, outlets, and education to improve the health and well-being of LGBT residents.
With advances in social attitudes and practices, it’s easy to forget about the hard fought fights to be accepted or, quite frankly just left alone, no matter your race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. We have been put on notice that these battles are far from over. When we contemplate sitting on the side lines, we must ask ourselves, who will stand up when they come for us?