Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What's In A Word.

Words are powerful. The right ones can make you have a better day, put a smile on someone’s face, and give the world a reason to feel better about it.  The wrong words cut worse than a knife, last longer than a bruise, and can bring anyone to a new low.  One word in particular has been associated with negativity for longer than most of us have been alive. I will not type it because it isn’t one that has really ever been a part of my vocabulary.
                I am a white male and the fact that I am choosing to write about this issue might irritate some. The NFL would like to begin penalizing players for using the,”N,” word. I have heard several arguments from both sides and some are compelling. One being that it is still a place of work and respect should be shown. The other side feels they shouldn’t be told how to talk to their peers.  In most cases, it’s a discussion that we white folk shouldn’t touch. I have never been much of a rule follower.
            We give words power based on reaction to them.  I am not saying that we should ignore bad words. I am saying that we should all grow tougher skins.  This word in particular has puzzled me for a while, but here is the reality. We will never eliminate racial type slurs from society. Too many people speak without thinking and use freedom of speech as their excuse.  I do have a problem with this word more than a lot of others.  I think my biggest problem with it is actually simple.  Black people can’t seem to figure out if it is a bad word or not.  Try and follow me.
                If I as a white man use the word I am considered an offensive racist. If a black person refers to another black person by the same word, he isn’t racist or offensive. This is where the problem starts. If we are going to deem a word bad, then it should be universal.  Rappers and athletes should pick a different word to wear like a badge of honor. Most of us, the younger generation, have little concept of respect. We should all respect those who came before and appreciate the negative connotations of their struggles. In the last few days, the older generation finds the word offensive and the younger doesn’t.
                To the younger generation, regardless of skin color, I say get a clue.  Learn from what has come before and respect them by doing better. I have little sympathy for the NFL, NBA, or any professional athlete. You are blessed with the ability to attain a job that less than 7% of the world will ever attain. Like it or not, a different set of rules come with those positions.  Do it better than the other guy. You are a role model whether you would like to be or not. Period.  All of us mimicked the behavior of those around us when we were young. Lead by example. If your parents or siblings referred to people by negative words, than you most likely did the same at some point. Break the damn cycle. Accept that every work place has codes of conduct and follow them.
                The world needs a reality check.  The black community needs to figure out what’s offensive and make it universally so. We judge success based on money and not behavior. We excuse things that we shouldn’t and we have lost touch with the word respect.  I am offended when I hear that word because I think we can do better. We forget that people don’t always find the same things we do funny. The world would be an amazing place if we could just learn to respect the people around us. No matter how different they are.  I am so amazed that we still have issues based on skin color in 2014. It scares me to think that after all the struggles, strife, and victories that we haven’t really learned a thing.

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