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Language

I didn't realize all the different ways racism was incorporated into our language before I read the chapter on language. It talked about how we see black as "the bad guys" or evil, and white as purity or the "good guys." While this is true, I don't really associate white people as the good guys or black people as the bad guys. But the fact that black has negative connotations is racist because our society labels people of African descent "black" so that can place those negative connotations on a that race. I've never really thought of this before, probably because I am white and it has never really affected me, or my "color" has never been labeled as evil. Also the use of the word slave over African people devalues the person, because the word slave makes it seem like less than human. It really devalues African people when history books say things like “Europeans immigrants moved to America, and slaves were brought to America.� I never realized how derogatory that phrase was. The book even says how “people in Western cultures do not realize the extent to which their racial attitudes have been conditioned since early childhood.� I also found the disabled part pretty interesting. I am a waitress and I work with a guy who washes dishes and everyone thinks he is crazy because he talks to himself for hours. I’ve noticed that he makes racist comments towards my customers. He says things like “they don’t know what’s going on� just because they have a different accent and aren’t white. The book says that when you put the label crazy on someone, all of their behavior becomes dismissible. When he makes comments like that or makes suggestions at work on how we should do things differently, everyone at work just kind of ignores it because we don’t see any of what he says as valid. We excuse him for his racist behavior because we think he is crazy, and we don’t listen to his arguments for change because we think he is crazy. It’s sad, but it is true.
Allie Kallman

Comments

I have not checked in here for some time since I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess Iˇ¦ll add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend :)

Language is a very powerful tool. Labels, as you presented also have a significant role in how we perpetuate stereotypes, theories, and others perceptions. It becomes such an innate/natural thing to use to strengthen inequalities that most people do not notice it. Even those who are the usual victims of the oppression that language causes, I do not believe, recognize how they are living up to some of the stereotypes. I make this claim very loosely as it can also double as meaning that the stereotypes are true but I believe that it also the negative side of language. Many people may end up living up to stereotypes because of another feature that continues inequalities, family/atmospheres. Even the media. It all ties in together and one becomes intrigued about why - like you have presented in your blog post. Kudos.

I see this individualism as completely blatant, and also an identification of the variance involved -particularly- with the middle class. The specifics and vulnerability of an individuals specific history of 'race' and class emphasize the importance of developing culture and social groups to be identified by a goverment for reform. This made me think about what we talked about in class, because I feel that the chinese immigrants were separated from american culture through language, a barrior that the african american culture did not have. Considering this fact, and that of wealthy chinese allowing for bussiness expansion, and the development of 'chinatowns', I historicaly contextualize their bonding as a group as superior to african-american attempts to collaborate in the midst of racism and segregation. I feel that the language sharing only emphasized the threat of the dark-skinned people, and left the chinese to collaborate in their tongue as a group. Perhaps this can also be historically compared to the fact that the people of China were inhumanely treated by their government prior to coming to america. Thus, they are used to tolerating injustices of some level. African-Americans, on the other hand, were strewn into society after slavery without the ideals of community, or the knowlege and confidence that the chinese had as a group getting by within social injustices. Does this make sense?

It is great to read, you have come to know language as a very powerful tool.

You stated how used terms such as, "'..slaves were brought to America.' I never realized how derogatory that phrase was."
I agree statements of the sort are oppressive, and adds "negative connotation" to people of African descent. However, I feel we have to be realistic about history; history happened and there is no way it can be re-written.

I feel it is pertinent we are cognitive of facts. We also have to be aware of the context in which we use history. It would be oppressive to say that African-Americans were slaves, thus they should be slave again-or something similar.

I am saying context is important; not just simply using the term. Tell history, but don't use history negatively.

I am not attacking you, I am using a likely example to further advance my argument.

Thanks for your honest and brave post,
Cortez.

I think ableist language is really, really pervasive in our culture. So frequently people say "lame" when they mean "worthless" or bad. Also language of (dis)ability is used in more subtle ways. For example, that exercise we did in class the other day asked us to "step up, step back" (also a commonly used phrase in activist organizing) when many people do not move by stepping because they are in a wheelchair or move differently. The other day I heard a very well-respected community organizer remark of some corrupt public officials, "They don't have a leg to stand on!" What does that say about people who, quite literally, do not have legs? Commonly--and I'm SO guilty of this--language is used that speaks to vision or lack thereof. Phrases like "blind to" or "I see that.." ignore the ways in which people who do not have normative vision are fully human and have identities that should not be degraded.

I accidentally posted two comments, one from anonymous and one from me, but both are mine. Opps.

To comment more on how the use of "slave" devalues Africans. I thought it was really intersting that Moore suggested to change "slaves" into something such as "African people stolen from their families and socities" when reading about slavery. This simple change really does convey an entirely different meaning. It conveys Africans as human beings rather than just property.

To comment more on how the use of the word "slave" devalues Africans. I thought it was interesting that Moore suggested to change the word "slaves" to something like "African people stolen from their families and socities" when reading about slavery. Using this phrasing really conveys such a different meaning. It actually conveys Africans as human beings, rather than property.

I think language affects gender more explicitly. It's difficult to hold a conversation without using "he" or "she," reinforcing gender-roles. We all know how difficult it is to talk about someone transgendered, "Do I call him or her 'he' or 'she?'" There are languages in the world without gendered pronouns. For example, Finnish uses the word "hän" for all third person pronouns. Finland has also been a great model for gender equality. Are language and politics connected? It's hard to say. But the Finnish language frees some gender reinforcement in normal, daily conversations.