Tolerance is not enough

When Tolerance is not Enough

In Culture by Punita Rice

I read this great article (thanks Tim for the share), written as “an open letter to straight people” in the wake of the recent and horrific massacre at Pulse in Orlando. The article serves as a reminder that like ongoing struggles surrounding race, the LGBTQ+ battle is not over, that we as a society have not arrived at some “fairy-tale ending,” and that tolerating a minority group is not enough. A standout comment:

If you are a person who believes “tolerance” is enough, you are contributing to the problem.
Connor Doherty for Huffington Post

I thought this message would fit well into conversations about cultural competence (since culture isn’t just ethnicity, and can include sexual orientation).

Sonia Nieto (2008) writes about levels of multicultural support, and says tolerance is at the very bottom (the only thing worse is monoculturalism, which amounts to exclusion); slightly better is acceptance, and better still is respect. But the very best and highest level is affirmation and solidarity.

Monoculturalism < Tolerance < Acceptance < Respect < Affirmation, Solidarity, Critique
(from Sonia Nieto’s work)

Obviously, as a nation, we’re not there. This, too, is a theme in the article:

If you are an ally, you must be an active ally and truly combat homophobia and transphobia when you see it.
Connor Doherty for Huffington Post

We’re barely at tolerance in some places, and others  struggle with just reaching past tolerance to acceptance when it comes to any minority group, and it’s awful.

But there are people who are using their voices to bring light to the fact that we as a society need to do better.

Forcing our nation to examine its reflection

As I’ve taught seventh graders in World Studies, culture reflects the beliefs and values of individuals within the society.

The one thin silver lining in the wake of tragedies based in hatred (like after the mass murder of Sikhs at a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin a four years ago, or the mass murdering of LGBT young people) is that it forces people to look at the society that has enabled such heinous acts, and forces to recognize what in the national rhetoric enables those few hateful individuals to pick up steam.

That it’s okay to just strive for “tolerance” — and have that be seen as progressive in some circles — is why people think it’s okay to hate.

Hope for our nation

But I like to believe we’re a society moving forward and becoming better.

As Jimmy Fallon just pointed out, a key thing to remember about what happened at Pulse was that it’s the story of 49 good guys (plus the thousands more who helped that night or in the aftermath) and only one bad guy in the story. As was the case nearly four years ago when ten people were shot (and thousands came forward to rally around, support, and aid the community).

I hope the good guys in the story are remembered. I hope that we honor the individuals who were killed, and the people who helped. I also hope that America will become better, because America needs to be better.

Source information:

Featured image from Frontiers Media

Connor Doherty’s article at Huffington Post

Nieto, S. (2008). Affirmation, solidarity and critique: Moving beyond tolerance in education. In E. Lee, D. Menkart, & M. Okazawa-Rey (Eds.), Beyond heroes and holidays (pp. 18-29). Washington, DC: Teaching for Change. Retrieved from