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What Dignity Demands
We are in a dignity crisis. The video released of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder when he went for a run and the story of Breonna Taylor shot in her home in the middle of the night brought the violence and indignity African Americans face as part of their daily experience living in this country to the forefront. The violence and indignity grew more painful when we witnessed Amy Cooper trying to manipulate the police into thinking she was being threatened by Christian Cooper and the horrific murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police. We watched thousands of people protest across the country all weekend where our President has dehumanized and labeled all of them “thugs” while inciting and threatening violence.
All of this shows, in painful detail, what happens when upholding each other’s dignity is forgotten or deliberately denied.
Dignity demands that we:
Recognize our own privilege.
Remember that when dignity is our foundation, we can have profound differences with others and still be in relation with each other.
Acknowledge that many of our leaders seek to divide us. We can’t begin to heal our relationships with each other until we recognize that we have leaders and people among us who don’t want us to see each other’s dignity.
Acknowledge that the experiences of black people, and all people of color, are never separated from racism. Individuals throughout our country are empowered and enabled to attack people of color. Our institutions of democracy fail to hold offenders accountable.
Reflect on how we are all influenced by cultural scripts that perpetuate bigotry and racism. We all are influenced to have racist thoughts and beliefs.
Take action to address the racial divisions and racism in our communities. We can support voter registration efforts for the upcoming elections so every American can exercise their constitutional right to vote.
Remember that we cannot expect black people and people of color to do the emotional labor of educating others. There are countless resources available to educate ourselves. See the list below.
Dignity expert Dr. Donna Hicks argues, “Until we fully recognize and accept this aspect of what it means to be human—that violation of our dignity feels like a threat to our survival—we will fall short in understanding conflict and what it takes to transform it to a more fruitful interaction.”
Dignity is the only way through. Dignity is the only way to reach out to each other and to heal. It is the principle that will give us the courage to face our political leaders and demand change.
What to watch
- When They See Us – Netflix
- 13th – Netflix
- If Beale Street Could Talk – Hulu
- Trevor Noah talks about the complexity of what is happening the US
What to read
- The 1619 Project – New York Times Magazine
- How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change – Barack Obama for Medium
- Death of George Floyd In Context – The New Yorker
- You shouldn’t need a Harvard degree to survive birdwatching while black – by 17-year-old Samuel Getachew for Washington Post
- Between the World and Me by Tah-Nehisi Coates
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, PhD
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
What to listen to
- Donate to a bail fund
- Check out this comprehensive list compiled by Black activists
- Support black owned businesses in your community
- Make sure your voter registration is updated
- Tiny Guides on Dignity
Are we missing anything? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org