I must hop on my soap-box at this time. In the paragraphs below, there are words that probably will and definitely should offend you. I debated not writing the actual words themselves, but decided not to delete them. People use them to show hate – I’m going to use them, just this once, to hopefully promote self-awareness. Just maybe.
I HATE “hate words.” I hate ugly, hurtful words that make the target feel belittled, minimized, hurt, lessened, inferior. I hate words that exist and are used for the sole purpose of making someone else feel smaller.
As a native of the South, I’ve found myself in an internal battle to not be prejudicial and discriminatory. Yes, I know that prejudice is found everywhere… but the southern USA has it’s own special flavor. There are many things that I love about the South – I wouldn’t live anywhere else – but this isn’t one of them. Sometimes I catch myself thinking things, labeling people, judging prematurely based on nothing but presumption and the socialization that I’m continuing to try to overcome. I sometimes (hopefully almost always) catch myself. This doesn’t make it ok, but at least I’m aware that I’m doing it and making a conscious effort to stop. I want to be able to look at another person and not automatically think of them as “a black person,” “that Asian girl,” or “you know, he looks kind of Middle-Eastern.” Why do I automatically attach those labels? I don’t want to, I don’t do it intentionally, I find myself becoming trapped in a self-imposed land of labels instead of people. What’s the line between using someone’s nationality or ethnicity or physical characteristic as a neutral, descriptive term, and using it as a limiting, derogatory label?
But back to the original topic – “hate words.” Verbal slurs are, in my opinion, the easiest aspect of prejudice to eliminate. Just. Don’t. Use. Those. Words. If there’s a word or phrase that a particular group finds hurtful, just don’t say it. Why willingly, intentionally cause hurt to others? What purpose does it serve, besides making the speaker feel superior? Spic. Chink. Coon. High Yellow. Rag-head. Jungle Bunny. Zebra. Monkey. Slant-Eye. Spook. Yard Ape. Wetback. Lemonhead. Oreo. Retard. Midget. Fag. Queer. I’ve heard all of these in conversation. And the worst, in my opinion, is Nigger. I just gagged a little while typing. I despise it. It makes me angry and sad and disgusted and ashamed. I worry that by typing these words I am promoting them.
And the opposing argument I always hear is “Well, “they” use that word to describe themselves. Why is it ok for “them” to use it, but not ok for me?” My answer: It’s NOT ok for anyone to use those words. Ever. I don’t care who you are, what your situation is, what color you are, where you’re coming from, or where you’re going. It’s not ok. It’s just not.