November 19, 2021
Category: Open Minds Respectful Voices
Tags: Community, Inclusion, Open Minds Respectful Voices, Respect,
NCCJ works to build more just, inclusive and compassionate communities for all people. We oppose racism and bigotry in any form or forum, and we strive to be a useful and trusted facilitator of open and respectful dialogues that honor everyone’s experiences. Thus, we feel compelled to be true to our purpose and speak out in opposition to remarks made in recent months by our state’s lieutenant governor, Mark Robinson.
Speech that degrades and demeans an entire group of people as a foundation of its public discourse serves no good purpose. Bias and bigotry should not form the basis of our community’s reaction to social changes and new realities. Hate speech threatens our democracy, dividing us in ways that affect every aspect of our lives and can perpetuate injustice for generations. We cannot allow our elected officials – in this case, the second-highest elected official in our state – to escape our condemnation when they resort to using such demeaning speech.
The lieutenant governor’s recent homophobic and transphobic remarks are hurtful and discriminatory to people of LGBTQ+ identity, as well as to their friends and loved ones. His comments target a large number of the people he was elected to serve, representing diverse racial, religious and political constituencies. Not only do his insults hurt those directly affected, but they also poison our whole community and present North Carolina as a divided place where differences are feared.
We desire leaders who are role models of good governance and respectful behavior. It is harmful for our children to hear our elected representatives imply that they are “filthy” or suggest that books and other educational materials representing aspects of their identities be banned in schools. Such commentary harms their mental and physical safety and sends the same signal to their peers and families, fueling bullying and violence. We cannot ignore this threat to our values, and we will not accept it as a normal part of our civic dialogue. We can and should do better.
We at NCCJ cherish dialogue and facilitate discussions so we can better understand and resolve issues with compassion and treat people with respect. We invite the lieutenant governor and his supporters to meet with us; to participate in any of our adult programs; to join us in our Open Minds, Respectful Voices practices; to visit our youth programs, such as Anytown; and to attend our annual Citation Award Dinner next November at the Koury Convention Center.
There, he can witness what love and respect can sound like and connect with others who are working to heal and uplift our community. There, he can meet students with real lives and families who are profoundly affected by what he and others say and do to them. By engaging with any aspect of NCCJ’s work, he will find resources to bridge differences with positive outreach, understanding, and compassion.