I used to be the little girl in the now infamous Cheerios commercial. I didn't understand what the big fuss was having a black father and a white mother. So what! They were my parents and I was me -- a light skinned little girl with long curly hair and an affinity for classic films and books. As the kids, and even adults, continued to tease and discriminate me throughout my formative years, I somehow developed a disdain for myself. "You talk like a 'white girl!'" "You're not one of us." "Your skin is the color of mud." "You stink!" "Why are you wearing the same clothes?"
My pigtails were pulled, I was tripped and spat on, and the kids no matter if they were black, white, or Hispanic -- taunted me. I did not fit in a category, I was simply undefined. I learned to hate myself, hated the way my unruly curls fell down my back, and scattered every which way but smooth, and how my nose seemed to be as big as a baseball. I disliked my long legs and the color of my skin. I even loathed the way I talked, and couldn't understand why my ability to speak in complete sentences was such a crime -- but it was.
As I grew older, my affinity for books turned into an obsession with the arts. I loved all things media and fancied changing the world with it. I also developed an attraction for men and women, which meant I was super screwed. I was a mixed-race, mixed-up woman, hiding 'in the closet' waiting for someone to accept me and say I was 'normal.'
That's enough to make anyone turn self-destructive.
In time, I learned to embrace myself and even accept myself as I evolved into the activist that I am now.
These experiences have shaped my future and life purpose. As the years progress, I have come to discover just how important it is to celebrate how absolutely unique I am.
There is no one else on this Earth like me.
More importantly, I have the right to be here.
This knowledge has instilled in me a mission to not only change the world, but to change our collective ideas about ourselves and each other that "We are unacceptable. We are not okay being and loving who we are and who we want. We don't deserve to be here." This is simply not true!
My mission is to make 'Equality Go Viral' on August 17 to inspire people to celebrate who they are and express themselves in such a way as to boldly declare; "I Am Equal."
I created an Internet TV network called EqualityTV which will launch in 2014. My vision is to have programming from all over the world which highlights marginalized communities and is committed to 'celebrating humanity' to inspire a new kind of media. Perhaps a little girl like me could see herself portrayed in media, and know there is a place for her in this world.
To take this a step further, I wanted to create something visual and compelling that would motivate people to contribute their unique gifts to the world to make it a more loving place. And that's when a light turned on:
"What will YOU do to make 'Equality Go Viral?"
Launched by EqualityTV network, The "I Am Equality Campaign" is a multimedia PSA dedicated to celebrating self-expression to educate and inspire people to embrace diversity, culture and equality within communities, families and individuals across the globe.
We believe that to create global awareness and inspire people to celebrate differences, and embrace diversity, we must be exposed to new ideas of what 'normal' is. Our 'New Normal' consists of a wide range of demographics, personalities, and a bright canvas of self-expression. People all over the world represent one important connection: We are all Human.
The "I Am Equality Campaign" is committed to providing a robust multimedia campaign which exposes people around the world to visual representations of what our families, communities, and neighbors look like. When we are able to recognize that 'normal' comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, abilities, age and geographic location, we can better demonstrate and embrace Equality.
By declaring "I Am Equality" you are not only representing who you are in the world, but impacting generations with a message that "in order to accept others, we must celebrate who we are every day!" We believe that this acceptance creates the pathway to achieving true Equality in the world.
Watch the "I Am Equality" Celebration Video:
That's a big mission, but I'm up for the challenge. To truly make 'Equality Go Viral' I needed to partner with other inspired folks, and that's exactly what I did. In a matter of weeks, we have put together our first worldwide "I Am Equality" Campaign with photographers and organizations participating in the following areas: Los Angeles, Bay Area, Orange County, Phoenix, Austin, Washington, North Carolina, Indiana, Palm Springs, New York, Toronto, Christchurch, New Zealand, Belgium and Sydney, Australia.
We're also launching a Twitter campaign via www.iamequality.org where people around the world can interact with the campaign on #August17 and answer the campaign question: "What will YOU do to make 'Equality Go Viral?'
In Australia we partnered with Australian Marriage Equality to offer a special edition of the campaign to celebrate Marriage Equality in honor of their upcoming vote. Our event is hosted by Sydney's Member of Parliament, Alex Greenwich, who is the co-founder of the Australian Marriage Equality and the FIRST gay married MP of Australia! Other partners include: Snowbiz Now Network, Youth in Arts and local gay and lesbian centers.
This little girl grew up to have a bold vision, and it is my hope that #August17 will be a day of Equality, celebration and self-love.
Please join me in the #iamequalitycampaign and let us know what YOU will do to make 'Equality Go Viral' and change the world. For more information visit our official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/iamequality
Follow Lisa Mae Brunson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MissLisaMae