Black people in this country have always been the victims of the words that are spoken about us. Very seldom have we been the recipients of positive, uplifting words as descriptions of our lives or our abilities. Instead there have been many words spoken against us. From the moment the first black person stepped foot on these shores of America, until the present moment, February 14, 2010, Valentines Day! So most of us have learned to allow these negative words to roll off our backs. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words ought not to hurt us. We make an effort not to allow the words to penetrate. To the extent that we are successful with that, is the extent that we are able to live in this country and be successful and not stark raving mad.
I am a lover of words. I love the beauty of language and the gift of expression. We humans have been blessed with many languages and within each, many words and phrases. In addition to our own language, we borrow words and phrases from each other, so as to be even more expressive. My Black English language also borrows words and phrases from english and turn them on their ears and creates completely different and exciting expressions! This is such a phenomenal thing–it allows us to create and speak a new version of english–beautifully patched together from America english words! I recently learned, though, that this phenomenon of black language can get one into big trouble!!
I was at my brother’s blog and he was making a certain statement of fact. He used a certain one of our crafted words. Now to the uninitiated, the word can be construed as negative. The word could be considered offensive if spoken in a different conversation by other people. But I understood how the brother was using the word and flowed with it and made my comment. Then out of left field, a jargonist responded harshly to the use of the word, period, not considering its context. The jargonist then proceeded to start name calling, and dropping more jargon. I was called ignorant for not knowing the jargon. Have you ever come across someone who knows obscure jargon and tries to make themselves bigger than they are by over-using it? And then tries to belittle those who don’t use the jargon? Well I had to start it up and call her ignorance out and set her on front street. When the owner of the blog finished the confrontation by giving her some simple lessons in etiquette, she was highly upset and left in a cursing huff!
Amazing! I understand that words are full of power, but we still have control over how we respond. If I understand her position, she was defending the cause of what she said were victims of the negative words people use. That’s a noble exercise. But can one be taken seriously concerning using PC words, and in the same breath resort to name calling? And expect a positive reception of her position? I think not! As for me, I cannot spend my time trying to stop people from using certain non-PC words that make me uncomfortable, because human nature is for angry or hurt or hateful people to use those words all the more in order to hurt others. In my book, the true power lies in how I choose to respond, or not respond.