What’s In a Word?


I have let comments regarding the story about Tom Hanks’ son get to me.

I’ve seen this in a couple of different places, in addition to all of the comments people have.

Issues such as this tend to be a sore point for me. I have very strong convictions when it comes to racial issues. So much so that there are certain things that I just won’t tolerate – including caucasian people using this word.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I completely agree with people of color using the word. I do understand and respect the view that by using the word, they perpetuate the persecution of their own culture. I ALSO understand the concept of reclaiming, for a disenfranchised group to reclaim a word as a communal source of bonding and power. In reclaiming the words of the oppressor and flipping its meaning, you take its power.

Let me emphasize – reclamation DOES NOT give everyone carte blanche for cultural appropriation. A caucasian person using this word is not only cultural appropriation, it diminishes the whole intent of reclamation. Not to mention the idea that one’s privilege is SO prevalent that s/he thinks they have a RIGHT to use these words.

Sure, in terms of free speech you have a right to use them. Just as I have a right to eliminate your presence from my reality.

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