Some people think no one who isn’t the same as them matters: that you’re less if you're a woman; you're less if you're transgender; you're less if your skin is black, brown, or beige; you're less if you're a Muslim; you're less if you're not heterosexual; you're less if you are differently-abled, mentally or physically; you’re less if English is not your first language; you're less if you or your parents were born in a different country; you're less if you're shorter, or heavier, or lighter, or have bigger or smaller breasts than average; and so on—that anyone who is different is broken.
If you are someone who, deep down, thinks different means less, we have a suggestion: watch roller derby. Roller derby teams are not made up of people who are the same as each other but of people who are different—people who come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, and have diverse gender identities, sexualities, and outlooks. These differences do not make a roller derby team great, although they often help. What matters is that these differences are valued. Diversity is nothing without unity. People become more powerful when you cherish what makes them different. Roller derby shows that the only way to make a group of people great—whether it’s a family, a team, a business, or even a nation—is to love what makes each individual unique.
And if you are somebody who is "different"—and almost all of us are to some degree—you already know how these people have been trying to persuade you that you are less valuable every day of your life, with words, and with actions and inactions, aggressions small and large, at individual, cultural, and sometimes even legal levels. You don’t believe them, of course, but it can be hard not to let their attitude wear you down once in a while, to succumb to anger, sadness, shame, or fatigue, and to become cynical or despairing about the nature of the human race.
We have a suggestion for you, too: play roller derby or, if you cannot play, watch—we promise there’s a league closer than you think. And if you play already, keep playing, maybe even play a little more. A roller derby league is the very opposite of a world where you’ll be pressured to be the same—it's a safe space where you will be challenged to become who you truly are, valued for it, and made to feel like more, not less: more capable, more powerful, more you. It’s a tradition called “derby love," and the world needs more of it. We all do.