Final Essay - ARW
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“We need to demonstrate our control over our language through the correct choice of words.” (Hale & Basides, 2013, p.81). Is this true?
There is a quote that says that the pen is mightier than the sword. This quotation is very important if you consider the pen as a representation of our words spoken and the sword being the actions taken. This means that our words have more lasting and deep impacts on the people around us compared to our actions. Our words can make or break someone’s day. So it is necessary for individuals to carefully choose the words they speak to others and not use words that they associate with some form of pain or trauma. Because a bullet shot and a word spoken cannot be taken back.
So it is imperative that people should demonstrate control over their language by choosing the correct words whenever there is an interaction between individuals. This careful use of words will allow people to be more considerate and understanding of the feelings of others. This would also let people be aware of the feelings of others around them, who have been wronged and labelled using some specific words. If people were to just spat out whatever that came into their mind they would most probably would become a cause of pain in society and also their reputation will take a hit.
This is rather more imperative when the case of racism comes into play in any conversation. Racism is the most controversial topic of the modern world and is brought up again and again due to the actions committed by a bigoted few. The cause for the issues regarding racism usually revolve around the fact that people do not have ample control over their language and do not consider using the right words while addressing anyone of a different color, race or ethnicity as them. This leads them to pitfalls and when they try to get themselves out of these pitfalls they just keep digging themselves a bigger hole.
Racism occurs when there is no control over language by individuals and they do not have any form of control over the words they choose to speak out. This way they use language as a means of negative discrimination which they wholly base on race, ethnicity or color. They use these features of others to discriminate and profile certain individuals (Weber, 2015). In reality this is done to people feel less than human and degrade them just because they have a different color or because they were born in some other area. This is not only inhumane but is a clear representation of how uneducated a person really is even after having spending tons of money on educating themselves. Also, mostly people who these racist words are the ones who are threatened by other individuals and want to use language as a means to have some control or give power to themselves. They use the in-built power associated to words in racist language (Rickford, 2016). These words get their power from social connotations and social forces that are prevalent in that certain society. This might allow them some form of power in a local sense but puts them at a disadvantage in the larger social context making them an inexpert user of their very own language.
The Use of the N Word to Perpetuate Racism
The N word became popular as a means to discriminate against the black community since they were brought in chains to the New World. Till now this word is a taboo and represents clearly how humans or normal people use language and words to profile and subjugate a certain community of people. This word out of any language used in this world, particularly English, is associated with pain and feelings of being treated as cattle rather than human. It is clearly visible how one word was used to control the behavior of people of color by associating a negative identity with them (Rahman, 2012).
What Constitutes Racism
Consequently language and words have been used to instigate racism on the basis of several features of human beings. People do not become racist when they point out to someone’s color but also when they refer to someone’s place of origin as well. For example it is racist to refer to someone with a deranged version of the country’s name. It is also racist to call a woman of color beautiful “even if she is black”. It is also racist to ask a black woman if her hair are real. All these are examples from our day to day lives, and of most people are simply unaware if they are being racist or not (Sommers & Norton, 2006).
Color Blindness being a Cause for Racism
The constitution of the USA says that it is color blind and will not tolerate and knows not of any class system among the inhabitants of this nation. But the fact is, here again, society or individuals both do not properly adhere to the words enshrined in the constitution. As a matter of fact, not only in the USA but also in other countries, people are firstly identified by their race and specific words are used to refer to them. Colorblindness is a myth both in life and in language and people purposefully use certain words to refer to people around them just to illustrate their physical features (Norton, et al, 2006).
Apparently the use of language as a means of promoting racism is not a new issue because the fact is this has been going for long. But nowadays when someone brings up this issue of using language and words to traumatize individuals, they are shown out as uninformed and thankless individuals. People are openly using language and words to defile each other and covering themselves by saying that what they are saying is politically correct and should not be taken offense at. This type of behavior is leading humanity down a dark path from which there is no return if we go too far ahead (Ireland, 2016).
Language has always been used as a means of hurting and demoralizing individuals who society considers lesser human beings. They have distorted words and language into a weapon of giving pain when its primary use was to promote understanding and sharing among individuals. People should definitely be vary of what type of words to refer to people who are different to them because after all everyone is still human no matter which race, color, ethnicity they belong to. Language should be used as a means of understanding but not defacing others and people should be careful with the words they choose. This is because words have more lasting effects on a person’s psyche rather than any physical scar or pain.
Ireland, J. (2016). Political correctness – a great term to dismiss issues that become too hard or inconvenient. Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/political-correctness--a-great-term-to-dismiss-issues-that-become-too-hard-or-inconvenient-20160128-gmflgo.html
Norton, M. I., Sommers, S. R., Apfelbaum, E. P., Pura, N., & Ariely, D. (2006). Color blindness and interracial interaction: Playing the political correctness game. Psychological Science, 17(11), 949-953.
Rahman, J. (2012). The N word: Its history and use in the African American community. Journal of English Linguistics, 40(2), 137-171.
Rickford, J. R. (2016). Raciolinguistics: How language shapes our ideas about race. Oxford University Press.
Sommers, S. R., & Norton, M. I. (2006). Lay theories about White racists: What constitutes racism (and what doesn't). Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 9(1), 117-138.
Weber, J. J. (2015). Language and Racism. In Language Racism (pp. 94-112). Palgrave Pivot, London.
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