Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Words Matter

"My Grandma referred to African Americans as "nigros",
which I thought was appallingly close to a really bad word and mortified
me every time she said it.  At first I cut her some slack, allowing for
the fact that she was an older woman (born in 1900) unaware of  how the
words describing race had changed in her lifetime.  But then my brother
dated a woman from India and Grandma asked, "But isn't she a nigro?"  It
confirmed my suspicion that the word wasn't spoken in innocence.  In
Grandma's mind the word "nigro" meant someone who is outside our
acceptable circle.  It was an ostracizing word that made clear that we
white people were different, that we were better.  The word
"illegals" has similar power.  It connotes the idea of people who are far
outside our circle of acceptable friends.  We, the "legal" ones, are