Colin Kaepernick and Brock Turner

Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was released from jail this week after serving only three months for “sexual assault,” also known as rape.

This is precisely what we wanted.

Yes, us.

Meanwhile, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been raked over the coals for sitting down during the National Anthem this week. He says he’ll stand when minorities are treated like human beings in our country. As we chastise him and try to silence him, we should carefully consider that what we are actually doing is trying to perpetuate a system wherein a rapist like Brock Turner can get out of jail after three months – a system that privileges rich white people over everyone else – minorities, immigrants, and women.

I once saw a bumper sticker that read, “Don’t pass on my money; pass on my work ethic.” In case that doesn’t make sense to you, the person is saying that poor people are poor because they are lazy. When we live in a society where that person doesn’t have enough friends who tell him how horrific his bumper sticker his, that means we live in a culture where we’d rather allow someone to be a bully than to put ourselves through the discomfort of confronting a bully. And that’s what causes the bullied to end up dead by their own hands, raped by their peers, and silenced when they would like to protest. All because many of us don’t want to be put through the trouble of defending those whose voices are smaller and weaker. And really, just imagine the opposite situation: if a black person from the inner city drove around with a bumper sticker that said, “If it weren’t for those elitist white racists, maybe I could get a better job,” it scares me to think of the reaction that might invoke.

So what does this have to do with mental illness? A lot.

My friend who has been incapable of working due to depression for over five years has every doctor on planet earth say that she needs government disability, yet she has been denied twice, forcing her to hire a lawyer she can’t afford in the hopes of finally getting the whopping $1,400 a month she hopes to get. She’s the little guy; she has no power. Yet she is lucky enough to have connections who know a lawyer who can help her. Most aren’t so lucky.

There are those who criticize “all those lazy people looking for a government handout.” To them I say please try living off of $1,400 a month for awhile…after living off of $0 while you fight the system for a few years trying to get that meager sum. Think how defeated in spirit someone has to be to “live” off the government when that life means subjecting yourself to a life of poverty because you have no other option besides homelessness or death.

This site is called “to know we are not alone” because my passion, even more than speaking out about mental illness, is to speak out against loneliness. And one of the loneliest places on earth is being the little guy whose voice doesn’t really matter – the inner city mother living on welfare, the mentally ill person living on disability, the black kid whose life doesn’t seem to matter as evidenced by the people trying to silence someone who stands up for him, the girl who gets raped by a peer but whose voice doesn’t matter because her rapist’s parents have means…these are all the same.

The troubling reality, though, is that once we dress bullying up a little bit as adults, many of us unwittingly become a part of the crowd that bullies and oppresses. Our victims don’t usually end up hanging themselves in their parents’ basement, like the victims of a middle school bully. Our victims get sent back to the projects, further convinced that it’s impossible to climb out of the hole they’ve been born into. Our victims get sent back to Honduras or Haiti or Guatemala, separated from their wives and children who, for some reason, got to stay here. Our victims get raped and then told that their rape doesn’t really matter that much to the rest of us. And our victims sink further and further into the mental nightmare that won’t end – as trapped in their mental health hell hole as the kid from the projects who knows he’ll never escape.

This isn’t where I tell you who to vote for. It’s just where I tell you that there are a lot of people whose voices don’t seem to matter. If you want to know what happens to those people over time, just go visit an Indian Reservation. The fact that we’re still calling them “Indian” Reservations shows how little their voices matter. You wonder why the inner city looks like it does? It’s not because those people are lazy; it’s because those areas are just another version of an Indian Reservation… “Let’s put them there and then blame them for failing to rise above their situation,” is what our society has said from day one.

Please, I beg you, there are a lot of “little guys” out there, and they need for you to mount a protest on their behalf. If you don’t, then please don’t post things on Facebook about how awful it is that Brock Turner just got out of prison.
 
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