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Words as Weapons
By Gillan Ludlow
We hear them every day in our music. We hear them in our television shows and movies. We read them in magazines and books. But worst of all, we hear them roll off the tongues of neighbors and friends. They're so common that we tend to “not hear” them or we turn a blind eye. What is it 1914 and not 2014? Rumpelstiltskin fell backwards.
Racial slurs—considered offensive and even oppressive—are still used in the most casual way in today’s society. It doesn’t matter who says them. Regardless of race, age or ethnicity, it’s just wrong.
You could be walking down the street when you witness the most peculiar scene. A group of teens are laughing and smiling when all of a sudden you hear, “Shut the f* up n**ga.” Let’s hit pause for a moment while we think this over.
The “N-word” dates back pretty far. The English word originates from the Spanish/Portuguese version, negro, descending from the Latin adjective, niger, which means the color black. Most people associate today the “N-word” with 19th century slavery and oppression.Why use the word as a term of endearment when historically it was used to demean?
On a similar note, did you know that there are more than 100 slurs for Middle Easterners? And more than 50 slurs for Jewish people or people of Jewish descent? I have lost count of how many different slurs I have heard for Hispanics and Latin Americans.
According to an article published by The Seattle Times in 1993, linguistic experts agreed that the usage of racial slurs had decreased at one point in the '90s. But racial slurs resurfaced in public vernacular with a vengeance in the 2000s.
Fueled by hatred, ignorance or lack of compassion for others, these hurtful terms compartmentalize individuals. Why? The answer is simple; we can’t be bothered to look past their skin tone, ethnicity or religion.
It should be obvious to most that slurs are a sign of disrespect. We can’t build relationships with other people if we display signs of disrespect, even if we DO actually respect the individual. The use of racial slurs can convey distrust and instill hostility or fear.
It is naive of me to hope that we could all just stop using racial slurs for the sake of our children and future generations. But the first step society has to take is to understand. We need to understand the full impact that racial slurs have on an individual and the community as a whole.
#RacialSlurs #SocialJustice #Humanity #Community #Kindness #Intelligence #Everyday