Including the LGBTQ Community
in the Human Rights Vision
(A Response to Andrea Smith’s Beyond the Politics of Inclusion: Violence Against Women of Color and Human Rights)
by Gregory Caso
The inalienable rights that we as Americans have now are a consequence of years of oppression and genocide that this country was founded upon, Andrea Smith argues in her essay, Beyond the Politics of Inclusion: Violence Against Women of Color and Human Right . Human rights efforts and concerns, especially those regarded as international, are not privileges, but are necessities. There should be no difference between racial justice and gender justice. Why should there be one without the other? That just promotes a continuance of violence. These two issues should coexist; gender violence, racial violence, and sexual violence are all issues that exist in our culture, and we cannot solve one without solving the other, nor should we allow any of them to continue, control, or dominate our society, but we should eradicate all these issues in their entirety.
During the 1800s, there were varying levels of rights. White men had the most freedom and rights since they were white and male. Next came white women because, while they were female, they were white, and that Anglo-Saxon status was enough to guarantee them proper treatment. Lastly, African American males, while subject to slavery, were indeed males, so they were in a slightly higher position (it can be argued) than African American women, who were lowest on this totem pole of rights. They were African American and female, thus making them inferior in two standards. Therefore, Smith is right that women of color are at the center of gender violence, going back hundreds of years, and that mere acknowledgment is not enough; participation and centrality is needed in order to properly address this issue.
Andrea Smith states that the U.S. is built on oppression and genocide, and that violent acts were supposedly done for the greater good. We forced Native Americans to remove themselves from their land, we condoned slavery, and we placed Japanese in internment camps for this greater good. Today, the term alien not only includes those of a different race, but also includes the LGBTQ community because they are not a part of what is considered to be the normal, average American.
Human rights should be a commonplace notion, not something that has to be debated about or considered; we should all know what constitutes basic human rights, and equality in every way, shape, and form is one of them. Anti-violence movements are in place to help women and people of color, as well as other groups such as those part of the LGBTQ community, but it is sad that these movements even exist, because human rights should be a standard.