Prejudice, violence, and injustice against The Other have persisted since before recorded time. In our current time, however, we witness not only graphic injustice and death as the result of institutional racism, but also divisiveness, disrespect, and the perpetuation of false narratives that only serve to solidify entrenched differences. Binary paths pitting Us versus The Other can often be seen as easy ones to follow blindly, without thought. Little thinking is involved in choosing a single path, and there may be false comfort in numbers or in following the herd, however misguided the herd mentality may be. In such circumstances little consideration is given to the lived experience of those Others vilified by divisive, disrespectful and violent words and actions. We stand in strong opposition to this false narrative of divisiveness, despair, and perpetuation of hopelessness that is embodied in recent dehumanizing and violent actions towards those who have been marginalized by the color of their skin or the circumstances of their lives.
We would submit that the choice not to reflect upon the lived experience of those in our society who are marginalized or rejected, not to speak out against violence in all forms against them, dehumanizes each of us. Individually and collectively, we are diminished by the actions of everyone who devalues The Other because we—each of us—are now or could someday be The Other.
The CCSN family has always viewed diversity as a strength, difference as opportunity, and understanding the lived experience of individuals and their families who experience developmental, physical, and emotional hardships as our pathway to change, our call to action and advocacy, and our responsibility as global citizens. In so doing we explicitly by our words and actions affirm the rights of those who may be marginalized, demeaned, or harmed because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, or disability. Further, we encourage individual and visible action. While each of us can voice our rejection of injustice differently—through peaceful protest, through writing or respectful conversation, or through the vote—to allow our voices to remain silent invites complicity and devalues The Other in each of us.
Misunderstanding, hatred, and violence are dangerous cousins. So are fear and silence. We cannot succumb to either. The individuals who are being harmed, living in fear, or marginalized because of their beliefs, the color of their skin, their gender, their sexual identity, or their neurodiversity depend on us to refute and resist violence and divisiveness towards them, and to take peaceful but decisive action to ensure that their rights, needs, and humanity are respected. We owe it to them, to our own children, and to ourselves to do so.
The injustices that we have witnessed more recently are abhorrent, without excuse, and evil – but they did not come out of nowhere. While they have been building for centuries in this country, recent efforts to divide and enflame differences among us have placed them in stark and bold relief for all to see. We must respond to the inequality that those injustices have created in the present; failure to do so honestly will lead us all down a tragic slope. However, we must also respond to and rectify the causes of those harms and inequities that gave rise to the problems and violence that we see today. We cannot credibly do this without engagement and without understanding the experience of those facing discrimination or violence in any form. As uncomfortable as that may be in some cases, engagement and understanding will then become the prelude to meaningful action.
We at CCSN firmly believe that there is power within all of us to bring about change and address the injustices that we see in the world around us because we believe that every person, regardless of their race, identity, or disability, deserves to live a happy and fulfilling life. CCSN will never stop advocating on behalf of The Other and for a better and more just society for all. We hope that everyone uses their own power, however big or small, to do the same because when it truly boils down to it, there is in reality no “other” but merely what we train or retrain our minds to perceive and our eyes to see.
On behalf of the entire CCSN Team,
Michael D. Powers, Psy.D
CCSN: The Center for Children with Special
Needs Glastonbury, CT