As a person that recognizes inequalities in our society, it is hard not to view all aspects of life through a social justice lens. While this lens allows me to witness many instances of random acts of kindness and giving hearts, the reality is that there are days heavier than others with just the opposite.
Over the last week, the San Antonio Jewish community has experienced deplorable acts of hatred and an assault to their property. Two synagogues and as many as 30 homes have been vandalized with depictions of swastikas and anti-Semitic slurs. This has been a clear attempt to bring fear to a community that shows so much love. It is my experience that Jewish community members embrace the true meaning of community, love and acceptance.
Within the last few days, the Jewish community began a 40-day period of reflection and I find myself in my own period of reflection. I reflect on the struggles of the disenfranchised, marginalized and oppressed communities across Texas. As a queer Latino social justice activist, I see and hear of the harms experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. We must not overlook or ignore others that are facing their own types of bigotry because of their actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, or disability.
“The Jewish community and the LGBT community have shared the painful history of discrimination. The Nazis, the Klan, and other bigots from the ancient past through today have included both groups as targets of their hateful plans,” said Steve Rudner, Board Chair for Equality Texas. He went on to say, “The Jewish and LGBT communities have historically stood together as allies in the fight for equality, with both groups having had prominent representatives at the forefront of the battle for civil rights. In the recent struggle for marriage equality, the Reform and Conservative movements of Judaism have been leading advocates, and both are welcome and accepting faith communities. And until the LGBT community has achieved full and complete equality in every way, it is critical that these communities continue to work together, stand up and speak for each other, and defend each other against hatred, racism, bigotry and intolerance in every form and wherever they appear.”
No matter what political, religious or personal beliefs someone holds, as Texans we have an obligation to treat everyone with respect and dignity, even when we have opposing views. The swastika, a symbol of hatred and violence, is offensive to the Jewish community and should be equally offensive to the entire city. The mere fact that this is happening should sadden and outrage everyone throughout San Antonio. When the foundation of being a diverse and inclusive city has been violated, we have all been violated.
Robert Salcido, Jr., is a regional field organizer with Equality Texas and Board Chair for Pride Center San Antonio.