Just as James Baldwin's words that Black people are not defined by the color of our skin and inspired "I am Not Your Negro", justice-involved people are not defined by what we may have done in the past.
Most of us know how harmful words like n-word and r word can be. However, most of the time, people use words they are indoctrinated to use and what is comfortable without realizing how harmful and inappropriate they are. When used casually, words like "ex con", "felon", sex offender", "inmate", "prisoner", offender", "criminal", "convict", "pervert", ex-felon", "super-predator" and so many other words that we flippantly use to refer to people who are justice involved or have been incarcerated or detained, further perpetuate harmful stereotypes, stigmas and discrimination.
We are HUMAN 1st and foremost but we are also doctors, educators, elected officials, lawyers, business owners, parents, children and people of faith who are so much more than our criminal records who deserve dignity and humanity and to NOT be defined by harmful labels! Being justice-involved, especially if you have experienced arrest and incarceration is traumatic and using these words trigger justice involved people, which makes it a source of mass psychological harm for an already marginalized group and fuel the fire of stigma that runs rampant in our everyday conversation, in what we read and see in the media, movies and so much more to define people by their actions and not who they are today or are capable of being.
PURPOSE OF EVENT: to educating the community, including members of the media, on the importance of using humanizing language when referring to justice-involved people in casual conversation & how we are covered and referred to in the media by replacing antiquated, derogatory, disrespectful and harmful terms with respectful, human centered and person 1st language.
Guest Speaker: Page Dukes, Communications Associate at the Southern Center for Human Rights