Qualifying morality

Matthew Colwell

Consistently badgered with events, rallies, fundraisers, “awareness days” and so much more, we often fight for reassurance of our own morality, rather than against real prejudice. Instead of acting, we involve ourselves in arbitrary get-togethers where everyone rubs each other’s moral compass for being on the right path and caring about the minority. As if we’re some Godsend for being aware someone is in a smaller group than us.

There are probably some informative pamphlets that include great statistics and sad stories. Hell, maybe even a page dedicated to monetary donation. Money: that’s great! Then we’ve quantified our good nature, too; and that really strokes our morality meter. Then we all go home and continue our lives having fulfilled our own moral reassurance.

But then you’re out at night with your friends. You walk past the gay kid in your psychology class being harassed and don’t say a word. Then, as you enter your favorite bar, the black guy in front of you gets held back while you walk right in. Best of all, one of the men you’re with is being physically aggressive to his girlfriend. Don’t worry, though, you went to that rally last weekend. So you’re set, right?


A friend of mine had the race card pulled on him this weekend at a local bar, and that’s when I snapped. Wearing a shirt, bracelet or hat on some random day isn’t going to stop people from hating someone for their race, gender or sexual identity. Telling me or anyone else that you are against racism, sexism and homophobia isn’t going to stop those people from hating. And your purple shirt does little to nothing, other than make you feel better for having a belief. If you need your ego and moral compass rubbed, do it on your own time and in private—not in public where you look like a self-aggrandizing narcissist.

No matter how many positive videos you post and share, shirts you own or equality-focused organizations you slap on your résumé, you may want to take a second to check yourself and see what you’ve actually done to be a part of a real life movement. A real life movement in a reality where minorities are harassed, killed or driven to suicide every day.

So next time you see someone being harassed, realize that’s when what you truly believe comes to life. Remember then that equality doesn’t look like Benjamin Franklin or a three-fold handout and act. I’ll make sure to go down and make the bouncer let in my friend who is not white; however, I also hope you, the person behind my friend, sticks up for him before I even get to the entrance.

Matthew Colwell is an integrated language arts major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. You can contact him at [email protected].