Sticks and Stones and Words and Power…A Rant

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.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. RiPPa says:

    I always say that words are only as powerful as the people who use them. In the case of the individual you referenced, I think it was indeed a power trip – which is sad actually.Again I apologize for what you had to endure. For me, it was embarrassing because you were subjected to the antics of a person who at the time was a contributor to my blog. But between you, me and the fencepost as the old saying goes, I loved the way you handled that exchange.

  2. Anna Renee says:

    No worries! I was starting to feel a little guilty for how much I enjoyed the exchange! Maybe she'll return after a cool off period.

  3. Asabagna says:

    Sister Anna, greetings and much love! I stumbled quite by accident across the original discussion over at Rippa's place, that you are referencing in this post. I had read this post before I came upon it and didn't quite understand the whole context of the debate as you obviously chose not to link to or identify the source of the discussion. That being said, now that I have read the post and comments, I do have a couple of points to share.I don't find the word "retard" in and of itself offensive and I understand the context in which it was used in the post by Rippa. However, what I did find offensive, classless and tasteless was the joke that began his post. I find Rippa to be a thought-provoking writer with a wicked sense of humour. I do enjoy his style and I realize that sometimes he says or expresses his points in ways that I may not like… however it's his blog… his house to do what he wants… and more often than not, I find his posts educational and enlightening, so I visit there often. I found the attitude of womanistmusings to be waaay over the top! "Neurologically Atypical!?" WTF is that!? I am definitely not up on my PC terms and it's certainly not a Canadian thang… although we are religiously PC here! lol! She demonstrated a pseudo-intellectual elitist attitude which is all about vanity (look at me and how smart and "in the know" I am) and not one of humbly attempting to educate or enlighten. I say all that above to say this… I applaud the way you handled yourself in that discussion. You didn't rise to her level of pseudo-intellectual elitism but kept it real! You had me laughing at points as you gently and not gently schooled her. I don't think she got it though… she is waaay too self absorbed to listen.You are right on point when you state that true power lies in how one chooses to respond or not respond. You got the power girl! lol! Blessings!

  4. Anna Renee says:

    Dear Asabagna–greetings! I have anattitude against pseudo intellectuals that I may need to put in check-LOL! We black folks have enough on our plates with racism! We certainly don't need to add more by accepting and internalizing stupid labels!! Why make our burden greater? And then to use those labels as weapons? I refuse to go there! Much respect to you brother!

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