It’s been known that minorities such as women and the LGBT community have not always been welcomed with open arms into the military. In recent history, there has been a stigma surrounding these groups joining the military and fighting for the United States. According to The Atlantic, women were not allowed to “serve in all front-line combat roles for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Command” until just two years ago. And the LGBT community had their own obstacles, first to be allowed to serve in the military, and then the creation of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) from 1993-2011, which created controversy and hardship for those affected.
However, it seems as though things are looking up for these two groups serving in the military. Below are two examples of how dignity and respect are portrayed by government officials and outstanding military women that are breaking barriers for our minorities.
Women in the Military
In the past two years, women have been making history and breaking glass ceilings in the military special forces. According to Defense One, “the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment has become the first special operations unit to have a woman meet the standards of its selection course.”
In fact, not one, but two women graduated from Army Ranger school in December 2016. This is extremely significant because Army Ranger school is the most grueling, both mentally and physically, training course in the Army. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Defense One’s Council on Foreign Relations, explains Ranger school is an “intense combat leadership course through swamps and mountains.”
This achievement is also momentous because it is the first time a woman “earned a spot in the special operations forces.” Although not every job in the military is opened to women yet, women have been making a difference in the forces for years. Lemmon explained that “women soldiers joined Rangers on night raids, and searched and questioned Afghan women during raids to keep the women away from the combat operation then happening in their home.”
Although the process of merging women into the military and recently the special operation forces has been a long one, Lemmon said “women soldiers have proved their value to the mission and won acceptance as teammates as time went on.”
General James Mattis Testimony
Another example of how a person or persons has shown dignity and respect in regards to integrating women and LGBT in the military is General James Mattis’s testimony at his confirmation hearing for Defense Secretary. Senator Elizabeth Gilliland asked him whether he believed LGBT people “undermined the military’s lethality” and Mattis responded by saying he wasn’t “concerned about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with.” Mattis continued by saying “my concern is the readiness of the force to fight and make certain it is the top of the game. When we go up against the enemy, the criteria that everything that we do in the military, up to that point, when we put the young men and women across the line of departure, is they are at the most lethal stance.”
This surprised many, including Senator Gilliland and Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, who was elated to have heard Mattis’s answer. “When General Mattis agreed that women and LGBT troops can contribute to the military’s lethality, he was supporting the long-standing argument, backed up by a solid consensus in the research as well as the experiences of foreign militaries, that inclusive policy promotes readiness,” Belkin stated.
It’s encouraging to hear General Mattis’s respond with statements about LGBT in the military, in an environment that has, in the past, ignored or rejected gay rights issues.
We have a number of initiatives here at the Dignity & Respect Campaign to Build Cultural Awareness, Stop the Violence, Prevent Bullying, and Lead the Way – but it’s October 2016, and one of our initiatives works singlehandedly to push all the others forward: the one where we encourage you to get out and Vote!
How to Register to Vote
First things first: October 11, 2016 is the last day to register to vote in the November 8th election. That means you can register ON October 11, too, so don’t panic!
If you’re not registered or you’re not sure if you are, you can visit vote.gov to find out and complete your registration online, if allowed by your state (Pennsylvania, where D&R Campaign is based, does allow online registration). USA.gov provides a list of requirements, instructions for in-person registration, mail application, and other options and information. Each state has its own voting rules and requirements, so be sure you’re correctly informed for your state.
Does it take a long time to register? That’s a common myth. With all the necessary credentials, you can often be approved and officially registered within about a week, and the majority of the work is the government’s, not yours.
Exercise Your Privilege!
While all U.S. citizens (with a few exceptions) are granted the right to vote, it should still be viewed as a privilege. Many minority men, and women of ALL ethnicities are still only one generation removed from having no voice. We must remember the sacrifices of our ancestors and take very seriously this privilege they fought so hard for us to have.
Resources for Citizens and Leaders
In collaboration with Diversity & Inclusion, we’ve created the “I Vote Because…” campaign. Download the flyer here to learn how you can spread the word and get out the vote. The message is this: we all represent different organizations, different parties, and different perspectives, but what we have in common is respect for differences and a commitment to get out the vote. Collectively we have a stronger voice. With ONE VOICE, we encourage you to cast ONE VOTE.
As a leader, no matter where you stand politically, you can make it known that voting is a privilege, a duty, and an action that COUNTS. If anyone needs convincing, Wikipedia has a great page on close election results.
And what can we all do? We can promote dignity and respect by using the facts and standing up and speaking out. Volunteer, attend, or support national and/or local efforts. Tell others how you did your part. Encourage others to join your efforts. And to get that all started – make sure you’re registered to vote on November 8th!
You’re probably used to seeing handicapped parking spaces in front of stores and restaurants, or perhaps even familiar with the growing number of automatic doors into public buildings that are handicapped-accessible. And to someone who’s never had the experience of being disabled, these small conveniences might seem almost like a luxury. Did you know, however, that nearly one in five Americans has a disability – and that more than half of them identify it as severe?
For people who live with a disability, simple things like parking spaces and door buttons are not a convenience, but a necessity. Many disabled people struggle to do things like housework or even fixing meals. They often have difficulty lifting items like grocery bags or grasping a glass of water. But aside from overcoming physical challenges of daily life, many people with disabilities also suffer from discrimination.
What is Ableism?
The term ableism refers to the “practices and dominant attitudes in society that devalue and limit the potential of persons with disabilities.” When we talk about ableism, we’re talking about not treating those with disabilities as whole people. Ableism assumes that able-bodied people are superior to anyone living with a disability.
If you’ve never heard this word before, you’re not alone. Unlike racism or sexism, which are two types of prejudices that are widely referenced and discussed, ableism is not as mainstream. Does this mean that ableist beliefs are not as harmful or negative? Absolutely not. Discrimination towards people with disabilities is just as damaging. And because ableism is not talked about as commonly as other inequalities, it may actually be harder to know when you are contributing towards ableist tendencies.
What Can You Do to Stop Ableism?
The world might be predominantly built for able-bodied individuals, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t simple ways to make a difference. Read on for a few easy ways to help do your part to stop ableism:
Watch what you say. It’s easy to brush off using certain words as “no big deal,” but to people living with a disability, these terms can be both disrespectful and hurtful. And maybe it’s a no-brainer that a word like retarded is not okay to use, but things like crazy or spaz or psycho also have harmful effects. Be sure to refrain from using any sort of language that targets someone with a disability (and for a helpful, more detailed guide – click here).
Be considerate. As an able-bodied person, you might forget that you have access to just about everywhere – and that someone with a disability might not. Places like handicapped bathroom stalls and the front seats of public transportation were put there for a reason. Though you might not be intentionally discriminating against people with disabilities, you are inadvertently doing just that by utilizing the resources there for them. So instead of taking the elevator and crowding it for someone who needs it, take the stairs or the escalator.
Always ask before assisting. One of the worst assumptions that an able-bodied person can make is that everyone with a disability is incapable of helping themselves. People living with disabilities know how to ask for help, and will when they need it. However, if you see someone who seems to be struggling, be sure to ask permission beforehand. Even if they decline, they will likely appreciate the gesture.
In addition to these simple ways to do your part to fight ableism, take the time to learn more about people who live with disabilities. Participate in the Dignity & Respect Campaign’s Building Cultural Awareness Initiative and download our discussion guide and reading list for this month. Ask yourself questions about living with a disability, such as how you talk about disabilities or who should be responsible for supporting disabled persons.
Remember: differences are only barriers if we allow them to be. Do your part and learn how you can help to make this world a better place – for ALL to live.
When you think of identity, what comes to mind? How do you define yourself?
You could identify by your religion, for one. You could identify as either a man or woman (or both, or neither). You could identify by your race. You could identify by sexual preference or nationality or occupation. There are a multitude of ways any one person can label or define themselves, and chances are quite high that you actually affiliate with several of these categories – that you see yourself as black AND heterosexual AND Christian AND a woman (for instance).
This notion of the “and” is often referred to as intersectionality, which is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. In the context of critical theory, intersectionality refers to the ways in which multiple institutions are oppressive to a person. Crenshaw used the analogy of traffic in her essay on the subject:
“Consider an analogy to traffic in an intersection, coming and going in all four directions. Discrimination, like traffic through an intersection, may flow in one direction, and it may flow in another. If an accident happens in an intersection, it can be caused by cars traveling from any number of directions and, sometimes, from all of them. Similarly, if a Black woman is harmed because she is in an intersection, her injury could result from sex discrimination or race discrimination.”
But even though intersectionality can mean there are multiple ways for a person to be oppressed, it can also mean there are multiple ways for a person to relate to someone else. For example, let’s say you are a heterosexual Christian woman meeting a heterosexual Muslim woman for the first time. Though at first glance, it may appear that you have zero commonalities between the two of you (you wear a small gold cross around your neck, she wears a dark hijab across her hair), if the two of you engaged in a conversation, it’s possible that you’d discover you are both around the same age, both married, and both the mother of two children. You might find that you both relate strongly to the experience of being a woman.
This is what the D&R initiative, Finding Common Ground, is all about. Everyone has multiple identities and instead of using them to separate ourselves, we should use them to search for similarities. Plus, knowing that everyone fits into several boxes at any given time makes it harder to judge a person for one particular characteristic.
So take time to think about how you identify – how you see yourself and how you’d like others to see you. Then look for different ways to see others. You might just be surprised.
For many of us, treating others with dignity and respect might sound like common sense, but how effective are we at actually putting it into practice? If someone were to ask if you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, you would likely respond with a definitive answer – of course you do!
But if someone were to ask you if you treat others with dignity and respect, how would you respond? Would you be hesitant to answer with an unwavering ‘yes’? Would you say yes, for the most part – or yes, but it depends?
Although we tend to have conviction about wanting to be treated with dignity and respect, we are often inconsistent in treating others with such. This is where the Dignity & Respect Campaign comes in. As one of our initiatives, D&R, Inc. offers Solutions in the form of both Educational and Training programs, Collateral, and even Speaking Engagements for events.
What is D&R Training?
Our specialized Training programs are based on the 7 Pillars of Dignity & Respect. They are broken down into modules for each pillar of behavior, and each module builds on the previous module(s). We present these materials in two formats: online segments that can be completed individually, as well as facilitated workshops for groups.
In addition to the 7 modules, the D&R Training programs are also divided into sections for Individuals, Teams, and Organizations. By using this method, we can help instill these fundamental behaviors into individuals, who will bring them into their teams. It is the attitudes and actions of both individuals and teams that create an organization’s culture.
What Can You Gain from Training?
D&R Training makes a difference in the dynamics of both teams and organizations by improving how they work effectively with one another. Additionally, these modules help to build and increase cultural awareness, as well as the ability to find common ground amongst various groups of people. When dignity and respect are talked about and worked on through team efforts, it helps to create a sense of inclusion.
So while it’s a nice idea to state that one stands for dignity and respect, it is another thing entirely to commit to achieving these notions – and incorporating them into lifestyles and cultures. Let us help you achieve this. Contact us today for more information on how to get started.