“Somebody told a lie one day. They couched it in language. They made everything Black ugly and evil. Look in your dictionaries and see the synonyms of the word Black. It’s always something degrading and low and sinister. Look at the word White, it’s always something pure, high and clean. Well, I want to get the language right tonight.
I want to get the language so right that everyone here will cry out: ‘Yes, I’m Black, I’m proud of it. I’m Black and I’m beautiful!’”
“And so what I believe is that having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man, and when a decent man messes up as we all are bound to do, he tries his best and does apologize. Not to save face, not to win a vote. He apologizes genuinely to repair and acknowledge the harm done so that we can all move on.”
I have watched this video through dozens of times just in the past couple of days. As frustrated and infuriated as I am with what Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had to go through I’m happy she was able to respond in this way.
She took her personal but not at all unique experience and brought it to the national stage in a way we can all identify with, internalize, and learn from. She is showing us all how to stand up and speak up, how to hold others accountable for dehumanizing language, and articulated perfectly the very real harm that this language inflicts on all of us.
I only hope Rep. Ted Yoho and men like him learned something too…