image-7When you hear the phrase civil rights, your mind immediately goes back to the mid-1950s when life was gloomy and somewhat unfair to the minorities. The term civil rights gained popularity in the 1960s, thanks to the U. S. Civil Rights Movement. This movement, which began because of the horrendous discrimination faced by Black Americans in the US, has come quite a long way. Started by Rosa Parks and spearheaded by Martin Luther King Jr., its primary focus at the time was obtaining equal rights for Black Americans. The success of the movement revealed to other oppressed people in other countries how unfair discrimination and segregation was. But before we proceed with the topic of this article, let’s briefly educate you on what your rights are.

What are Civil Rights?

Civil rights are simply the rights of a citizen to social freedom, political freedom, equality and justice. Civil rights protect the freedom of an individual from being infringed upon by other citizens, government agencies, and social organizations.

According to Wikipedia, civil rights entitles a citizen to equality and prevents them from being discriminated on grounds such as color, age, race, gender, national origin, political alliance, ethnicity, religion or disability.

There are immense benefits that come with knowing what your rights are. In this article, we are going to outline some of them. We hope this topic piques your interest and encourage you to educate yourself on what your rights are.

It Empowers You: When you have a knowledge of your civil rights, it automatically empowers you. It does this by giving you the official authority, legal power and freedom to do whatever you want. Just as long as your actions fall within the ambit of the law, being empowered strengthens the ability of people to exercise their rights either individually or together as a group. Whatever sense of powerlessness or lack of influence you once felt can now be blown away by the knowing your rights. With this knowledge, you can notice and make use of the resources and options available to you without any fear of retribution. For instance, in areas where you had previously been marginalized or discriminated against, you can go back and challenge the status-quo. This action could in turn help remedy the situation and put a stop to the abominable practices. This act was the method adopted by the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s when they came together to stop the segregation prevalent in their society.

It Accords You Respect: Another advantage that comes with knowing your civil rights is respect. The term here does not refer to the dictionary meaning of showing someone or something admiration. Respect when dealing with civil rights refers to your right to have privacy. It means that you are not bound to make details of your life public as it is personal to you. Rather it recognizes your right to live peacefully and without any interference by outside forces. This privacy also covers your home, family life, relationships, and correspondence. You could take steps to deal with those responsible for compromising your information. The law will see to it that the perpetrators of the act are brought to justice as swiftly as possible.

 It Helps You to Tolerate Others: Marginalization, violence, injustice, segregation and discrimination are some of the ills of society caused by the lack of understanding. Being aware of your civil rights gives you the capacity to respect, tolerate and appreciate the diversity present in our world. The willingness to accept beliefs, habits, opinions and practices that differ from one’s own is known as tolerance. The civil rights act postulates that every individual, irrespective of origin, is equal under the law. If you find yourself in a situation where you are being stereotyped or rejected just because you are different, speak out so that the public can understand your fears. The law takes the act of intolerance severely and comes down hard on violators.

It Protects You from Abuse: A sound knowledge of your civil rights can give you protection from unfavorable treatment. The protection provided by the Civil Rights Act gives you the ability to fight back against any infringement or discriminatory practices. When your civil right is violated, you are totally allowed to voice out your feelings of angst or challenge the breach in court. Taking the matter to court increases the severity of the action that would indeed be leveled against the violator by the relevant law enforcement. Individuals are not the only ones protected by the civil rights. Public authorities are also bound to protect your privacy, lest they come under the full weight of the law. In the course of making decisions that would affect you, the public authorities are compelled by law to respect and protect your civil rights at all times. And if you feel these agencies have violated your rights, it is within your right to either make a complaint or take them to court.

It Creates Many Opportunities for You: Since the civil rights act frowns heavily on discrimination, segregation, and marginalization of any sort, you are at liberty to seize advantage of any opportunity that comes your way without fear of unfair treatment. With your understanding of civil rights, you can recognize the signs of inequality prevalent in the society and do your best to eliminate it. Indeed, if everyone has an inkling of the contents embedded in the civil rights act, the realization of equality in society will progress much faster.

Bottom Line

There are times when ignorance can be bliss. But being ignorant of what your rights keeps you in the dark and leave you and your loved ones vulnerable to attacks. It also denies you the ability to take actions to protect and advance yourself in the society. So, do well to protect yourself from tyranny. Go read about what your civil rights are. After all, as the saying goes, knowledge is power.

Photo Credit: Cdn