Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The most Notorious word in the english language

Hearing a stranger use the word in the context of racism privately with me, was and still is a personal litmus test. People make assumptions all the time about skin color, and being a lighter shade myself they soon are disappointed i dont share their same prejudice collective views on race. To me it wasnt so much the word itself, but the subtle expression behind it that defined an extreme ignorance from its user.

Some time ago, a mixed group of kids playing basketball outside my house casually called each other by it; ironically it was my initial natural reaction to recoil, but they didnt. It was at that moment I realized that I was becoming antiquated and giving the word too much power. To say we can never utter the word, in any formal or informal context, racist or not, is indeed a censorship of language and history. Over the last few decades; the popularity of rap music, comedians, online internet forums, memes, screaming microphone insults during FPS games, and especially 4chan have given the word a new context outside of racism and desensitized me a lot from its original implication. Holding this unspeakable word to the highest esteem and erasing it from any and all context, is not only censorship of language and history but only empowering racists who intend to effectively hurt people with words.

There are a number of racist slurs we can list off for every color, religion and gender; except one. I think the most important thing we can do to desensitize it and take away its power, is by understanding the context of which it is used as well as recognizing that name calling alone cannot bring any harm to you as much as it does the person using it.

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