(Excerpts from The Courage to Stand: A New America)
Perhaps one of the most devastating things we can do in America is label each other with derogatory names. Derogatory names speak to the unlearned and uneducated. Name-calling limits our growth and potential and keeps us locked in a system of separation. Unfortunately, in some nations outside of the US, we have become known as the nation where the uses of these terms are commonplace. I experienced this as I was traveling abroad to Poland in early 2014 and had an encounter with two gentlemen from Sweden. We started talking about American culture, and it was amazing that these men clued in on the negative terminology found in our movies, music, and culture in general. One of them started imitating a movie and literally called me the “N-word” with a Texas accent (it was only indirectly toward me). I was caught off guard, but not shocked. They thought they were perfectly normal to call me that name (they truly meant no harm in my opinion) or use it in conversation with me because I was brown, yet it only highlights what I think is the problem. They see the movies and hear the music using the derogatory terms and believe that it is acceptable. Others may not have reacted as calmly as I did and may have become very angry. In fact, my friends of European descent interjected and led them to change the conversation. I was grateful to my friends for coming to my rescue! I have been told by my friends around the world that it is our own media, rappers, and music that influence those around the world and convince them that it is acceptable to say the N-word. Let me be clear–calling yourself the N-word because you are of African descent or other people who look like you if they are of African descent is unacceptable.
Let’s take it further. As I have stated, I cannot go on air as a newscaster or politician and use such phrases without grave consequences to my business or profession. What is even more confusing is that the same people who would protest a business owner for calling his or her employees the N-word will turn around and call themselves the same N-word and think they are justified in doing so. This is faulty reasoning and baffling to me. Why could sportscasters and public figures be removed almost instantly for using the N-word or other slangs against women or other races and those of African descent would use it constantly against one another and say nothing is meant by it–it is a term of love and endearment? It makes no sense! I believe I have said this several times—it makes no sense! Trust me, I know why people use it because it sells and makes millions and millions of dollars–it won’t make the money when we stand up and say enough–I will not support any form of entertainment or media that espouses use of the N-word or other racial slangs.
Let me share another example of how we as Americans can set bad examples for the world at large with our divisive language. A friend of my son who was of African descent was telling me about his experience in high school where he befriended a Russian student. As they grew closer, the Russian student began to use derogatory terms and called my son’s friend the “N-word.” My son’s friend had to explain that this was not acceptable. The Russian student was caught off guard and meant no harm. The Russian student said he did not mean it as racism but explained that he thought he was simply calling the student from African decent “what he was.” My son’s friend had to politely explain that he is not an N, and he is a human who happens to be of a different color or hue. These stories happen every day in our younger generation. Change is needed now. We must change every media outlet that continues to spew words of hate and discord. I see people joke about language and name-calling all the time, but when you dig deeper, you find that it is truly hurtful even among the same ethnicities.
I submit to America that it is not just the N-word, but any derogatory word or slur that hurts any race such as H-word or the C-word for Europeans or the S-word for Latinos. What about the derogatory names used against women? America, I am tired of it. I have walked out of movies that used the N-word in a modern setting. I was researching material for this book, I found that there are literally two hundred or so derogatory and racist names for all people groups. Of course I will not list them here. I was amazed at the list, but it also confirms human nature and what we can do or say about one another when there is hatred and not love for our fellow man. How did these slurs come about? I believe they came about through a misunderstanding of who we are as humans. In other words, if I see people of different complexions or physiological features as inferior, then I am more apt to deem that person o is different on the outside as different on the inside.
As I have demonstrated in this book, nothing could be further from the truth. We are all humans, and once we honor that, we will begin to see the harm in racial slurs and disparaging terms. The point is that we must recognize that no people group should be called out of their name. It does not matter if one has origins from Asia, the Pacific region, or the Middle East, derogatory phrases said openly or in private are not helpful to building a holistic society in America where all people come together. Let me emphasize that my experiences have shown that most racial slurs about other races are not done in public, but in private and often with others who would have a similar view or who look the same.
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