What’s in a Word? A Racist’s Perspective

Posted: January 14, 2015 in New Post

I play tennis three or four times a week, and our group has, shall we say, eclectic political views. We rarely discuss politics or political events, and that’s probably a good thing. After all, who wants to spoil such a great game like tennis with ugly debates.

But today, the after-game chat began with one of our associates showing pictures of her trip to the White House to see the Christmas decorations. That’s when it turned ugly. Someone looking at the pictures asked, “Did you see Obama?” The response was telling. “I couldn’t even look at him if I did!” There was more than disdain in her voice, it was anger. “You don’t like him I take it?” some one asked. What followed was a diatribe on the subject of political correctness.

“I’m so tired of political correctness! My daughters were appalled at Christmas dinner when I referred to one of their friends as ‘Oriental’! Do you believe it? They  insisted I use ‘Asian’ but hey, they are from the Orient, right? So they are Oriental! It’s like the word negro. What’s wrong with that. For years we called them Negros, now we have to say black or whatever. What’s wrong with Negro? Or colored? It was OK before. And the big deal over the Washington Red Skins is ridiculous. All my life we called them Indians, now it has to be Native Americans or something. We always used Indians growing up, right?”

I was breathless, and not from playing tennis. I didn’t know where to begin. First, I pointed out that referring to people with terms they find offensive is, well, offensive. Second, what people accept at one time can change and evolve over time. That was met with an angry look and a “shut up!” Yes, I was told to shut up. How’s that for political correctness.

But I could not let this go without a few observations. First, what gives this white woman the right to tell minorities what they should and should not be offended by. It’s like stabbing a person and telling them they shouldn’t bleed all over you. Second, what is the harm in referring to people in terms they accept as appropriate. Does it hurt to change your vocabulary? Why is it so important that old racial slurs and stereotypes be perpetuated? The reason is simple, as simple as why this woman hates the sight of the president.  People like her seek acceptance of their bigotry.

It’s not just the vernacular we use to describe people that bothers her, it’s the people themselves. Unsaid in her ranting is the fact that she doesn’t believe President Obama belongs in the White House. She doesn’t believe African-Americans, Native Americans, Asians, or any other group should dictate how white people refer to them. Or treat them for that matter. To her, it is the loss of white privilege that she can not bear. That is the basis of her anger, not political correctness, and it is becoming the death rattle of the white majority.

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