Racial, Religious, And Ethnic Slurs. Essay, Research Paper
Words today mean so much in society that we seldom look back on the consequences they hold. These words can cause much pain, anguish, and conflict amongst people who don t even know each other. People say slurs such as jap, flip, chink, and jew to others, but they don t know who these other people are. These racial, religious, and ethnic remarks are made to demoralize others and to make others feel inferior. Sometimes these slurs are made in society where we have learned to live with them, by them, and from them. The terms of race, religion and ethnicity have evolved in our society as time continued. The negative connotations of words sometimes change because of deliberate changes in the way they are used. (Hayakawa 232.)
When slurs are made towards us about our race, religion, or ethnicity, it plays a large role in we perceive ourselves. When we hear a slur made upon us, we feel as if we are less of a person. This is because there is a weakness in all of us. This weakness is the vulnerability that others can create by making a remark about us. By doing so, these people look down upon us, and more importantly, they degrade us to something less that what we are. It is dehumanizing to be labeled as a fob, wet back, nigger, etc. We can not be fully described through those terms. We are more than just nips, hicks, and wops, because we are individuals who should not be grouped from our race, religion and ethnicity. Many times, people see us as a whole and do not see us for who we are and what we have accomplished. Black Americans, inside and outside the walls of the university, experience racism as a group. (Barnes 242.) People see us through what nationality we are and what beliefs we have. Those people that make these slurs do not know what effect it has on other people or what they faced in the past. Those same people do not know what other people have suffered and do not know what dehumanizing effects those slurs have.
An elderly Japanese woman of my acquaintance used to squirm at the mention of the word Jap. Whenever I hear that word, she used to say, I feel dirty all over. She was reacting to the negative connotations as it was used during the second World War and earlier. (Hayakawa 232.)
The way this woman squirms upon the word jap is a mental acknowledgement of the negativity held in that three letter word. She understands that people still see her the way people saw Japanese civilians in the second World War. These people probably don t know who they are calling a jap and they probably don t know how much it hurts the elderly woman to make such a comment. But yet, people in society are careless towards the feelings and emotions of others. By doing so, they scar others and leave them at their weakest point.
A person s weakest point is when he/she is being held down. It is when he/she is being taunted, made fun of, harassed, verbally or physically abused. When a person can no longer fight against the harassment and intimidation brought down upon him/her, it makes a person feel as if they do not belong in society.
Just as you turn the corner of the long driveway, sprinting towards freedom, a gang of white males catch and beat you senseless, all the while shouting, The world is mine and nothing you can do will ever change that. You lie there swearing revenge. All you really want to do, though, is go home. (qtd. in Barnes 242.)
These incidents were factual and did occur on a college or university campus in the United States between 1980 and 1988. The purpose of slurs of derogatory meaning are to cause others to feel as if they were outcasts and to somehow separate themselves from those they are remarking towards.
These remarks of racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds have changed from the way they are used. Granted that the word nigger or jap is derogatory in it s own way, these two terms have different meanings when used in different situations. More recently, JAP is n acronym for Jewish American princess, heard as an insult by an entirely different ethnic group. (Hayakawa 132.) The connotation of Jap is used positively here, but at the same time it is taken as repulsive and demoralizing towards the Japanese race. Also, the term nigger is considered to be a negative connotation since the times of slavery.
In recent times, the negative connotations of the word nigger are more widely understood I say Negro rather than black because this was 1942 and it was the mission of that newspaper to make people proud of being Negro. The word Negro at that time was used with dignity and pride .first substituting Negro for colored, nigger, nigrah, and later substituting black for Negro. (Hayakawa 233.)
The connotations used in reference to blacks have evolved to represent African Americans with respect. Presently, the negative connotation of the term nigger is used in black vernacular very often. They use to term to express the pain and suffering a race has endured. It is used frequently used by rap artists and composers. In a recent article in Hip Hop, they discuss the reasoning behind the vulgar language and the term nigger used in rap in the mind of a famous artist, Snoop Doggy-Dogg.
People gotta see the pain and sufferin that we African Americans gone through. Ain t no one gonna see anything if we bein soft with our sh*t. We gotta be able to express and show how we feel and to do that, we gotta used the terms they (white people) use to look at us blacks. (qtd. Hip Hop 78.)
To understand the definition of slurs, we must first see it through the view of the remarks by others. We seldom look on the effects it has on others because we don t look at it until it happens to us. We don t see the dehumanizing effects it has on others until we feel the pain of being made fun of due to our race, religion or ethnicity. It s really hard to say that we can fully understand the damage caused by slurs towards others until we actually go through them.
A black friend of mine recalls hitchhiking as a young man in the 1930s through an area of the country where very few blacks lived. He was given a ride by a white couple, who fed him and gave him a place to sleep in their home. However, they kept referring to him as little nigger, which upset him prfoundly. He finally asked them not to call him by that insulting term, a request they had difficulty understanding, as they had not meant to offend him. One way my friend might have explained his point further would have been to say, Excuse me, but in the part of the country I come from, white people who wish to show contempt for my race call us niggers. I assume this in not your intentions. (Hayakawa 233.)
No, those were not the intentions of the white couple who were caring enough to accept him and give him shelter. But this white couple did not understand the point the black male was trying to make. This is because they were never called a nigger or look down upon by their race. The negative connotation to which this black male was referring to is very offensive and dehumanizes people of black heritage. Racist speech deprives people of their civil rights and should be punishable as such. (Barnes 243.)
Racial, religious, and ethnic slurs are examples of intolerance in today s society. It should not be accepted because no one deserves to be treated as less of a person. We all must see the truth behind the slurs and know that it is wrong to call someone a spic, nip, or gook. It hurts us emotionally and gives us an image of ourselves that we would rather not see. This image is one that we see ourselves as inferior to those around us. Names that are loaded tend to influence behavior toward those to whom they are applied. (Hayakawa 232.) We see ourselves as what our environment portrays us. If we are seen as a dirty chink, then you will feel as if you are a dirty chink. The influences that society has on us is what forms us as a person. People may not always see eye to eye, but the use of slurs and acts of violence should not be used because its effects are negative. When people are being ridiculed for being who they are, they should not retaliate and do on to others what has happened to them. If they do retaliate and make those slurs, they have gone to the dehumanizing level of those who began the slurs.
In order for us to understand the dehumanizing effects of racial, religious, and ethnic slurs, we must put ourselves in the position of those who are on the receiving end of the slurs. And when we do, we can see clearly that being called a kike, or a spic takes a way a part of humanity and takes away a part of us.