Hey. If you are around my age, and vaguely know me, then this post is directed at you. In fact, if you are any age, and it doesn’t matter if I know you or not, then this post is directed at you. It’s about this thing, called slurs.
To start with: If you are white, straight, cis, able-bodied and male, (as much of the UK and indeed the world is) then you have the power. This is unarguable. Whether you like it or not, or society is set up to help you at the expense of practically everyone else. It is possible to be this without being an asshole (of course it is!) but with great power comes great responsibility, and if you do use your various privileges in anyway, then I will personally kick your ass and tell you why you are Wrong.
Unfortunately, being any of the things mentioned above comes with a lot of history. Yes, we are better than we were a hundred years ago on a lot of things; for example – now PoC (people of colour) are allowed to do radical things like sit on buses or vote! yay! – but instances like Trayvon Martin’s murder (a far from isolated incident, unfortunately) shows that racism is so fucking far from over.
Another important point: words have enormous power and can be and are used to oppress people. Whatever you say about them just being words, whatever bullshit you spout about ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’, languages contain words which have no other purpose than to discriminate and to oppress certain people. Words which literally are nothing more than insults. Insults which are very specific – aimed at you because of the colour of your skin or the people you are attracted to which somehow makes you inferior.
Now, taking into account all those things above, think about what you say.
The n-word is not okay. It’s so not okay I find it almost unexplainable that I have to point out its unacceptability. Ha fucking ha, okay, because the n-word was explicitly designed as a extremely derogatory term for black people by white people. This means (TO ALL THOSE FUCKING ‘HILARIOUS’ TUMBLR TEXT POSTS OUT THERE AND ALSO ALL THOSE ‘HILARIOUS’ WHITE TEENAGE BOYS) that however you use it, as a joke or a term of endearment (ugh ok) that when a white person says it, they are contributing to racism and oppression, and that is not okay. That is the end of that statement. Please never, ever, ever, say it again. Please tell other people to shut the fuck up if they ever say it by telling them that it’s racist.
Same goes for any other oppressive slur – against female people (usually by shaming them for their sexual choices) against LGBT* people (why is sexual choices and gender still an issue for people who make laws, ughhhh), against non white people (wow okay I don’t understand how any white person ever thought that racial slurs are suddenly okay because they are totally not) , against people with disabilities (and putting ‘clinically’ in front of the word ‘retarded’ does not suddenly make it okay to say), because saying contributes to the oppression of these people. The only exception is when a person who would usually be targeted by these words says it, because then it is reclaiming the word and it’s not an insult anymore, since you can’t really oppress yourself. (Edit: as my sister pointed out, internalized misogyny, racism, homophobia etc. does exist, but it is not the same thing. People can oppress and limit themselves, but this is merely a very effective extension of the overall system and reclaiming words means that to these people at least, the word changes its meaning. However, whether to reclaim words or not is personal and there are lots of different opinions and views so please try and have consideration and google it ok) Does this make sense? Let me say it again, in big bold letters so if you take one thing from this badly written angry post then it is the important part:
Using insults based on an aspect of a person that they can be oppressed for is not okay. Insults like this are called slurs. It is not your place to use them, ever, even if they are not as an insult, because using them is seriously offensive and oppressive for vulnerable people. If someone calls you out on this, do not protest it. You know it is wrong, so shut the fuck up and stop being an asshole.
Thank you for listening. People who are my age/in my social circle, if you read this, you probably know why I’ve been giving you weird looks and avoiding you. You’re an asshole, but this serious condition can be remedied. Next time, listen when I tell you that something you’re saying is not cool.
Now back to your regularly scheduled broadcasting, although this time with hopefully slightly less douchebaggery. If you’re having trouble suddenly losing much of your insulting vocabulary, check out this and this to add some more that target everyone! Yay! If you have any more, add in the comments!