The Minority Bill of Rights

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If you clicked on the title to this blog, there’s a fairly good chance you’ve experienced some unsettling or downright dangerous situations centering around your racial or ethnic identity. Perhaps you’ve felt isolated, mistreated, or even physically threatened because of what you look like or how you speak. I’d like to help you unpack all of the emotions that can stem from simply living your life as a minority. A number of my clients, along with myself, have found strength and comfort in a few core therapeutic principles, which I like to think of as a Minority Bill of Rights.

As a white male, I don’t for one minute pretend to have a firsthand understanding of what it’s like to navigate life as a person of color. I fully understand and appreciate that there are certain experiences I will never be confronted with because of the color of my skin.

As a member of the LGBTQIA community, however, I want you to know that I do appreciate what it’s like to be targeted or singled out. I know what it means to be made to feel small, other, or less than because of inherent circumstances beyond my control. While I may not be living your experience, I empathize, and I want to help you reclaim your power.

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What Is the Minority Bill of Rights?

No matter your race or ethnic background, you have a birthright to feel safe, empowered, and respected in every circumstance, at all times.

It’s time to become your own advocate.

We live in a society with distorted ideas about race that are deeply and historically entrenched. Though significant strides have been made, we still have a long way to go toward positive race relations and a global community that feels warm and welcoming to all human beings.

No matter your race or ethnic background, you have a birthright to feel safe, empowered, and respected in every circumstance, at all times.

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Allyship and advocacy are invaluable resources in the battle for social equality, but if you’re a minority, no one has a higher stake in this battle than you. No one stands to gain more from minority empowerment and enfranchisement, and from uplifting and empowering media representation, than minorities themselves. If you’ve ever been made to feel less than because of who you are or where you come from, it’s time to let go of that narrative and write a new story. You deserve to be your own champion; your own example of beauty, success, talent, and skill.

The Minority Bill of Rights says that you deserve to be your own champion; your own example of beauty, success, talent, and skill.
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Safety, respect, and self-love should not be exclusively reserved for the highly privileged.

You’re entitled to so much more.

Safety, respect, and self-love should not be exclusively reserved for the highly privileged.

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Too often, minorities are confronted with such frequent threats to their personal safety, comfort, and very existence that they begin to internalize toxic messaging. They experience microaggressions so often in every environment imaginable—from the workplace to public social gatherings to walking down the street—that these threatening messages sometimes seem reasonable. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If not counteracted by explicitly supportive, nurturing, and affirming messaging, feelings of inadequacy easily permeate the psyche, creating a polluted “normal.”

To combat the normalization of prejudice and bigotry, we must all remind ourselves of our Bill of Rights. Simply put, your Bill of Rights is a personalized list of affirmations curated to reassert your birth-given right to certain fundamental truths.

Use the Minority Bill of Rights to help you remember your worth and assert yourself with healthy boundaries.

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As we must respect our own rights, so must we respect the right of others to be their authentic selves.

The Minority Bill of Rights

As a minority, I’m allowed to …

love the color of my skin

love the texture of my hair and the shape of my eyes, nose, lips, and other racially identifying features

exist outside of socially accepted standards of beauty

enjoy the same compensation and career expansion opportunities as my non-minority colleagues

have my boundaries of personal space respected

refuse persistent and disrespectful inquiries regarding my culture or personal appearance

understand that slang, vernacular, and accents are not an indication of intelligence level

challenge laws, authorities, and institutions that threaten my right to exist

feel safe and at ease in any environment

excuse myself from any environment or situation that makes me feel unsafe, threatened, or disrespected

date and marry within or outside of my particular race

dress in whatever clothing feels comfortable and pleasing to me

exist outside of socially perpetuated stereotypes

feel protected and respected by law enforcement

openly embrace and celebrate my race or ethnic identification

identify myself outside of race and ethnicity

It’s my sincerest hope that you’ll keep this expression of a Minority Bill of Rights close to your heart. Feel free to add to it whichever truths move your spirit.

Remember, as we must respect our own rights, so must we respect the right of others to be their authentic selves. As long as by doing so we cause no harm or threat to the wellbeing of another individual, we each have the right to think, speak, and do as most genuinely reflects our purest nature.

Your Turn: Do any of these affirmations resonate strongly with you? Are there any minority rights you feel I’ve left out? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

A version of The Minority Bill of Rights originally appeared on our sister site, NYC Therapy + Wellness.

Dr. Logan Jones

Dr. Logan Jones is a Psychologist and Founder of Clarity Therapy. Sign up for his free 30 Days of Gratitude email series and follow him on Instagram at @drloganjones.

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