Words matter in profound and palpable ways – David J. Johns
Language is often a reflection of culture and, when unchecked, can be used to perpetuate violence and oppression. Words have the power to reinforce stereotypes, marginalize the most vulnerable among us, and support harmful ideas about race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, and other factors. Language also has the power to be a revolutionary tool in dismantling oppressive structures. Language has the capacity to liberate and empower.
In 1962, Malcolm X reminded us, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman., The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.,” The Words Matter Gender Justice Toolkit is designed to facilitate uncomfortable and, at times, difficult conversations that can save lives. This specific toolkit has been designed with the goal of ensuring gender justice, which means ending the violence that Black women and girls—Both cisgender and transgender—and that gender-nonconforming (GNC) people experience simply as a result of who they are and how they exist in the world.
The first way to protect, uplift, and empower Black women, girls, and GNC people is to deconstruct and unpack the way violent and oppressive language is used against them. We can acknowledge that when we say “women and girls” we must account for all women and girls, including our transgender sisters.
Use this Gender Justice toolkit to understand and practice the powerful ways we can protect, uplift, and empower.
Endorsing Organizations and Individuals
Black Millennial Convention
National Action Network
National LGBTQ Taskforce