The Ellenhorn team is both saddened and enraged by the murder of George Floyd, this injustice made only more tragic by the fact that its commonplace.
At the core of our philosophy at Ellenhorn is a strong belief in the social and psychological injuries of dehumanization: the viewing and treating of other human beings as things. Our work has always been about helping the people we serve recover from dehumanizing systems of care and a society that lacks tolerance for difference.
We believe in what Martin Luther King called, “the sacredness of human personality,” and what James Baldwin described as the “disquieting complexity of ourselves.” We thus see any behavior in which a person’s unique humanity is ignored, abused or erased as a sacrilege; an unholy act.
The murder of George Floyd was an act of dehumanization incarnate: 8 minutes and 46 seconds in which an individual’s personhood, and then person, were heinously annihilated.
We bemoan this loss, and we lament all the ways in which dehumanizing systems in this country treat all and any of our brothers and sisters who are denied access to power and who are marginalized.
From children in cages, the creeping corrosion of worker’s rights, the awful denial of everyday sexual assault of women and the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on minority neighborhoods to the broad-daylight murder of Ahmaud Arbery, Floyd is tragically part of a vast nation of individuals whose choices, freedoms and lives have been limited by the insidious processes of dehumanization in our culture.
We are convinced his death will not end these processes. So we hunger to do more than simply write and disseminate something about our rage, frustration and sadness. Words have real limits. We want to help through action, and we want this help to reflect our belief in the absolute sacredness located in the unique shape of every personality.
Here are ellenhorn’s first steps to doing more. We have created a fund from which all staff will be given an opportunity to direct a portion to their favorite charity or activist group. More importantly, for the next six months we are offering each of our staff paid time for them to volunteer in some way in response to the current events. They can take a paid leave to protest, pray, fundraise, send letters to politicians — you name it. What’s important is for them to find their own unique path to helping, protesting and resisting, and that we, as a community, are able to support other communities around us.
That’s a start, not the end, of what we do in response to this event, and to the multitude of oppressive, dehumanizing events in our midst.
This is a time of such deep anguish. It’s our hope that in some way it’s a turning point and a wake-up call. We’ll see.
From all of us at Ellenhorn to everyone, we wish you peace.