Disclaimer: Stats and research are not in this post; this is purely personal based on my experiences only. Since I haven’t done any research, I acknowledge my ignorance up front – and so should you. I don’t know the answer to any of the questions herein. I may make inappropriate jokes – because that’s how I cope. My love affair with words and my belief that we give words power remains strong. I needed to speak. And hope I’ve done so responsibly.
Girl Guides is in the process of changing the name of their branch for girls ages 7-8. (from cp24.com: Girl Guides of Canada to Rename Brownies After Hearing That The Name Causes Harm).
Girl Guide Branches:
- Sparks (ages 5-6)
- Brownies (ages 7-8)
- Guides (ages 9-11)
- Pathfinders (ages 12-14)
- Rangers (ages 15-17)
- Adults (ages 18+)
For all institutions, changing names to appear and doing work to become inclusive makes sense and is necessary. Regardless of the connotation, Brownies and Adults appear out of place on the list. (Sparks, Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers go together).
What if years from now, Sparks or Guides ends up causing harm to a group? The question might sound ridiculous, but history has proven that any term can become inflammatory and provocative. This is an example of how we give words power. I always go back to the word gay because it is well-recognized, you might find it in an old poem, and it was a good-natured word.
Might we soon be renaming baked goods? Where does it end? Are we capable of knowing when we’ve gone too far? Who decides?
I’ve been called a nigger (not nigga – that’s different), and it stings – it’s sharp and sudden and impactful because I don’t expect it in that way (silly me). And often, the speaker spews out their intent to inflict pain with the word. I could feel it. Kind of like getting hit over the head – it stuns. Some people use nigger casually, it’s part of their everyday vocabulary, and they don’t filter themselves just because they are in public. As much as it hurts, I believe everybody should be able to say nigger or nigga. Then will it come to have a similar effect to “the” or “but” or “french fries”? (I hope those aren’t triggering for you – sorry if I initiated a craving.)
Awareness is essential but is banning words from your vocabulary the answer? Can we learn to manage our pain and triggers so words don’t affect us negatively? Maybe if they lock me in a room and have a bunch of racist people, including white supremacist, call me nigger, spook and everything else, over time, it might hurt less – I’m willing to try.
Jokes help me work through shit!
When words cause harm, should we stop using them? Doesn’t that then give the word even more power? As mentioned, I don’t have the answer, and what may work for me, like desensitization training, may not work for others.
TERMS I DISLIKE
- least to most bothersome
- blackmail, blackball, blacklist (hmm … I’m ok with black book)
- n-word (Ah! The stand-in! Be brave! Say the actual word or don’t say anything at all)
- Woke (shut the fuck up)
- People of Colour (BIPOC)
I don’t know who came up with People of Colour. This term drives me crazy because it makes no sense. First of all, we’re all people of colour. White people are excluded, but depending on the colour theory you follow, white is supposed to be every colour. If it’s no colour fine. I hate to break it to you, but you’re not actually white. If I follow the theory then black people shouldn’t be included – but last I checked, I’m not actually black. Let’s not forget the reds and the yellows and the browns.
Why can’t I be sam! Not black sam, cis sam. bipolar sam, BPD sam, introverted sam. Just sam, from planet Earth!
And what about how I use words – there are words I love that others may find offensive or hurtful. Can I use gay, suicide, redneck, trailer-trash, powwow, lame, blackmail, cripple, bitch, retard/ed (an all-time favourite of mine), blind spot, blindsided, tribe or any other loaded word in a context that is not triggering to whoever may hear it? Does my intent behind the usage of the word make a difference? What about when I make fat jokes? I love making fat jokes (speaking of, I cannot fit into my winter coat at the moment). I also like to call people ugly, but only if they are, in the opinion of my beholder’s eye.
Generally, I’m not trying to fat-shame or shame anyone or may them feel less than another group. That is not who I am! But anybody can say that, right? Use it as an excuse to say whatever they want. For me, the context and who is delivering makes a significant difference. But that belief might be mine alone.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
I joined two online groups in Meetup. One for art, the other for writing. Meeting people online is less intimidating, and if I ever have to meet them in person, I will still freak out! That’s just the way it is.
Time for some brownies – the baked kind!