Au – gust [aw-guhst] (From www.dictionary.reference.com)
1. Inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic: She was very august in her attire, but more importantly, in the way she chose to live and work and help others discover their own ways to be successful and stylish.
2. Venerable; eminent: “an august personage”
There is a supreme dignity in having and displaying courage. There is dignity in being yourself, without limitations.
Recently, I was conversing with my mother about my self-proclaimed bravery and courage. After slumping forward in the passenger seat of her car, tears streaming carelessly down my face, staining my shirt, and with my mother lovingly, but frantically rubbing my back and asking if I was alright, I told her that in that moment, I was not okay, but that I would be. I confessed that I had an unusually tough week, and that it was capped off with a less-than-pleasant experience with the Chicago Police Department. I had just walked out of the police station attempting to get help after I discovered that my license plate had been stolen off of my car. As the police officer loomed over me, standing behind the counter which mimicked a dais more than a desk, she was shielded by her office and addressed me with the entitlement of someone to be revered. This police officer haughtily dismissed my request for assistance. I will never truly know why the officer chose to treat me that way. Nor will I have “smoking gun” evidence of someone admitting to their microaggressions, unconscious biases, or plain old intentionally discriminatory or prejudicial behavior. But I feel it.
I felt it when a judge completely ignored my presence and instead addressed the tall, blonde white male from my office who accompanied me to a hearing, despite the fact that my coworker was not a lawyer or a paralegal. I felt it when the homeless man observed me holding hands with the woman I was dating, and while shaking his head in disdain, proclaimed that she and I “knew we should not be doing that (holding hands).” And I felt it when the police officer ignored my request for help, whether it was due to my apparent youth, my blackness, my sex, my gender nonconformity, or that I simply appeared to be a Chicago citizen interrupting the officer’s work day with the audacity to ask for help. I don’t know the reason(s) why, but I know that, on a regular basis, I confront these circumstances. And I know that it was courageous of me to express my dissatisfaction with the officer’s treatment of me, because let’s face it, when considering the longstanding documented tenor of the relationship between law enforcement and black masculinity, I could have walked out of that station with more than my ego bruised, or not walked out at all.
Because of, and in spite of, these challenges to my humanity, I choose, every day to wake up and live my life as I see fit, and that is an act of courage. It is an act of protest to a society that tells me I’m not good enough, that I should be quiet, that it’s completely unnecessary for me to proclaim my humanity: my blackness, my female-ness, my androgyny, my gayness, my intelligence, and self-respect. If I listen to others’ opinions of me, whether explicitly spoken to me, written about me, or institutionalized in the general social functions of what is “appropriate,” “becoming,” or “respectable,” then I will be a sad, hurt, and ashamed woman. If I listened. If I internalized. If I did what so many people do on a daily basis.
“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” (Audre Lorde)
Instead, I choose to be courageous and to proclaim my identity and humanity, and to do so with dignity and pride. It is from this intentional space of courage and bravery that I present my August look book – Dignified.