The sign made me stop in my tracks. I was literally blow away by two simple words . . . EVERYBODY ONLY. It's located at a private school called New Hope Academy in one of the wealthiest counties in America. In a school that breaks cultural barriers and promotes equality from its core.
I don't know what it's like to be turned away at the door of a restaurant or asked to sit in a different section of public transportation or have people be afraid of my presence or be looked at as a second-class citizen or even worse, an unworthy human. But I know this is sadly part of our American story and unfortunately still continues to peek its ugly head around corners not only in this country but all over the world.
I'll never forget one of my first trips out of the United States. I was a teenager and on my first or second trip to Craiova, Romania with my church. I was walking down the street with a few other young girls as well as our adult leader when a couple men walked by angrily spatting words that I didn't understand but was later confirmed to be full of hate. That was an uncomfortable feeling that I still recall over twenty years later. Since that time, I've sought out and immersed myself in situations where I'm the minority and not just in this country. Sometimes I'm in awkward scenarios, but overall I've learned to grow from them understanding that it's only a glimpse of what many people face daily.
In 2015, I had the honor of photographing hundreds of people that are referred to as the Dalits. The word DALIT refers to something that is oppressed or broken and due to the caste system that still exists in the modern world, there are thousands that are classified as "untouchables."
While there, I even heard that some people viewed Dalit individuals as so unworthy and invaluable that they had to drink from a clay cup instead of the regular glassware served to others in a restaurant.
Discrimination is worldwide and still prevalent today. When I travel the world, I strive to see every person as they were created - beautifully and wonderfully made just as they are.
People who know me well can attest to the fact that this topic is the soapbox on which I stand. My desire is to open the eyes of the blind to see people with love and equality no matter where they live, what they look like or the choices they make. Love knows no boundaries!
According to Wikipedia, did you know that soapbox "originated from the days when speakers would elevate themselves by standing on a wooden crate originally used for shipment of soap or other dry goods from a manufacturer to a retail store?"
Today, they come in the form of posts and tweets and reach a much larger audience.
What are you posting? What are you tweeting? What do you stand for? What does your life shout from the soapbox beneath your feet?
Everybody But . . . ?
Or . . . Everybody Only?