I was talking to my mom the other night while we were watching Scandal. For those unaware, Scandal is a television show straight from Shondaland where the infallible Kerry Washington plays a “fixer” in Washington, D.C. Kerry Washington also happens to be black.
So what does my mom do? Says that she looks like a monkey.
*SCREEEEEEEEEEEECH* Woah. Hold the phone there, mama. I tell her, you can’t just refer to Kerry Washington as looking like a monkey, because of the racial and historical implications behind similar terms (see: Porch Monkey). So she tells me:
“Oh, you know, I don’t believe in that Political Correct stuff.”
So, instead of:
- Realizing that was a poor remark to make
- Trying to change behavior and thought processes to not say such uncouth comments
- Learn and grow as a person
She basically says:
- I’m not sorry for what I said
- I don’t care about the historical and racial implications of previous terminology
- I don’t want to change or listen
- I’m just an asshole
Okay, so maybe I extrapolated a lot from that one statement. I always wonder, though, why are people so resistant to change and grow? Further, by refusing to analyze and critique one’s own actions, is one susceptible to remaining stagnant?
Look, here’s the deal. It might be difficult for some people, but changing your vocabulary is one of THE easiest ways to make disenfranchised peoples feel more comfortable. All it requires is for you to be proactive in your attempt to use more inclusive vocabulary, and if you fail, to apologize and try better next time.
For those of you who think “Oh, words don’t REALLY matter.” Welp, sorry to burst your bubble, Mr. Grouch, but words mean a whole heck of a lot. In fact, many marginalized communities are filled with people dealing with depression, abuse, and even suicide due to problematic rhetoric.
Further, those of you who think “Well, they should just take it lightly.” Welp, it’s not your place to say how someone should feel. Words can have a powerful affect on the human psyche. Plus, people respond to things differently, and if you are able to take verbal abuse without it affecting you, good for you. BUT, not everyone can.
Finally, my favorite reply to all, “I have First Amendment rights!!!” Welp, let me tell you, I will never infringe on your First Amendment rights. You have the ability to say whatever you want. However, it doesn’t mean that you should.
Or else, you’re just an asshole.