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May 23, 2017

From my Snowflake Heart to your Closed Mind.

*Editor’s note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal views of the authors, and can not possibly reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here.

~

I’ve been so good lately.

I’ve stayed away from Facebook, I’ve done my best to stop looking at posts laden with “conservative logic” (i.e., it’s hateful and/or it makes no sense whatsoever). I’ve even tried biting my tongue when faced with ignorant, hate-spewing individuals, both online and in the real world.

But then, I buckled. I’ve tuned into it again. And I’ve had enough.

There are so many (too many) things I find upsetting these days; after all, what’s-his-face is still president, this red Congress still sucks, and the a**holes who put them in office still think everything is great.

But what set me off in this moment was a stupid Facebook post that called people like me a “snowflake,” which is certainly nothing new. And chances are, if you’re reading this, you fall into that category, too. But if by some chance you don’t consider yourself an accepting, inclusive, kind, and respectful human being, then please, read on.

Tell me:

Why is it so offensive to you that some of us want to be aware and respectful of other people’s preferences in terms of identity?

I’m talking gender neutrality, sexuality, racial/socioeconomic contexts, religious preferences (especially including those of us who want nothing to do with religion/god/whatever), and so on.

Why is it that when we ask that a crowd is addressed as “everyone” instead of “ladies and gentleman,” or when we ask that couples are recognized as couples instead of solely “husband and wife,” or when we ask that God and religion not be projected upon those of us who don’t adhere to or believe in such things, or when we ask that certain privileges and systemic disadvantages across socioeconomic and racial backgrounds be recognized for their resulting lack of fairness in our society…we’re called “snowflakes”?

Seriously, does the truth bother you that much? And do you realize that the degree to which our taking offense to something offends you perceivably makes you a snowflake as well?

Let’s turn the tables here for a moment—which I know you’re not exactly used to, because if you’re calling us snowflakes, I’d bet it means you don’t even know people who are even slightly impacted by the aforementioned points (or at least, you think you don’t).

Imagine that we—the “snowflakes”—made up the societal norm, and we projected onto you that you had to be accepting of what we know to be true. How would you like it if it was constantly shoved down your throat that you couldn’t “worship” a god/gods in the ways you chose, for example? How would you like it if you were constantly marginalized for your lifestyle, your means of self-expression, your innate, undeniable you-ness?

Not so funny anymore, is it?

Because it violates your freedom, dammit! It violates those amendments you like to cite in defense of your own arguments for God and guns and the “American dream.”

Well, guess what! All of us—the marginalized, the ones who have to fight just to exist here in “your” world, the snowflakes you like to laugh at—we have those same exact freedoms! (Take a deep breath, I know that was a lot.)

Accept this fact: It’s not “normal” to be religious, to believe in God, to be straight, to identify only as a male or a female, to be a privileged, unaffected, most-likely-white person. It’s merely a perpetuated social mold; just because it works for you doesn’t mean it’s any more valid than other ways of being.

You think it’s “normal” and the only real way to live your life because it’s all you know.

But the cold hard truth is that “normal” is a perception created to foster false comfort by way of instilling fear—though we don’t often recognize it as fear because it wears a smile and promises success if we just succumb to it—and inevitably, it’s all to maintain a power structure.

Think about that for a moment. All of this perceived “normal” is designed to keep the powerful in power—and the powerless struggling for basic fairness and respect.

While I know this is something you probably won’t even want to try to understand, I’m asking you to be brave.

The brave thing to do is to shut up and listen for a moment. The brave thing to do is to understand that maybe we “snowflakes” are actually the brave ones here, not because we’re better than you, or smarter than you, or anything like that, but because we’re standing our ground against you—often closed-minded and inevitably hurtful individuals, whether you understand that or not—fully knowing that you may never accept what we’re saying as true.

It’s not brave to call us snowflakes or sissies or overly-sensitive. It doesn’t make you look tough, devout, or American. It makes you look like a coward, fragile, and held down by the structure you sadly believe is going to build you up.

(Spoiler: It’s not, because no one thrives when any part of the whole is so unabashedly rejected.)

It is brave to see humans as humans, to see ourselves in each other, to respect each other as we believe we deserve to be respected, to accept that none of us are really the same—and that this uniqueness is what we all have in common.

It’s brave to do things from and with and for love.

So stop calling us snowflakes. Instead, start trying to open your eyes and mind and heart to the world around you. If you can do that, you’ll be that much closer to understanding what love really feels like—and we’ll stop thinking you’re a**holes.

~
Author: Sara Rodriguez
Image: Pabak Sarkar/Flickr; Atikh Bana/Unsplash
Editor: Catherine Monkman

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Sara Rodriguez

Sara is a political activist, feminist and writer based in New York City. Her work has been published on Elephant Journal, Thought Catalog, Rebelle Society and Elite Daily.