Once upon a time, I went to college and studied languages and language acquisition. The truth is– they both continue to be things that I love to read and learn about. It fascinates me the way that language shapes the way we think. For example, in Japanese you can’t just count to ten. When you refer to a number, it has a counter attached that tells you what you are talking about. So, the one in one apple is different from the one in one sheet of paper or one person or one year.
The thing with linguistics and languages, is that while being a great thing to study, they never inspired me to really follow a job path. Hence, I ended up going to grad school for social work– a field that I love to work in. In grad school, some of my favorite classes were about white privilege, isms, and creating meaningful communication. For me there was a great synergy about how we use language and how we create the world. For example, how racism implicit in language marginalizes individuals while seemingly invisible to those in the majority grouping (not necessarily largest numbers, but those who are portrayed by society as status quo).
I read a blog post today (granted I am behind on my reading) that remind me of just this. 4+4=10 talked about her experience leaving a comment on another’s blog about the non-PCness of the term “flesh” colored. I will let you read what happened there after. The post made me think for a couple of reasons. First of all, about all the times that I hear something that I recognize as exclusionary language and don’t say anything. Silence, after all, is simpler in the short term but damaging in the longterm. Second, how easy it is to blow something off as being overly PC and refusing to look at the possibility that it could be negative. Third, the mob mentality that can happen in internet blogging. Finally— I thought of linking to the post and almost didn’t. After all, almost a week has passed. However, to me, I think there was something important to be said. And perhaps, it is better late than never.