Zen Words
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Zen Words

Just don’t say it

The wrongful normalisation of racial slurs

A racial slur is a term designed to insult or degrade others of different races, ethnicities or nationalities. The offence that derives from a racial slur is based upon the semantic content of the words.

In today’s society, racial slurs are more than prevalent. However, they are not just evident in the context of demeaning a group of individuals; they are also normalised in a colloquial sense.

Across social media, in the music industry and generally in day to day life racial slurs are being expressed.

This is a problem.

Perhaps it is the case that the weighted context behind the words that are being said is not transparent enough. If so, read on for some context behind two prevalent racial slurs:

The N word:

Between the 17th and 18th century, citizens in the continent of Africa were kidnapped and enslaved by Americans. This exploitation and severe injustice occurred for almost 250 years.

Though the abolition of slavery occurred in 1865, the mistreatment of African Americans still remained- at an extreme capacity. The N word was a key part in the degrading of black individuals, and is still being used in the same manner today.

The Pakistani Racial Slur:

During the increased wave of migration from South Asia to the United Kingdom in the 1960’s there was a peak in racial abuse towards such individuals.

South Asian people were faced with racial abuse including gang attacks dubbed ‘P*ki bashing’. Individuals from South Asian descent as well as those that resembled this demographic were targeted and assaulted.

A particular example, shared with me by my uncle, was him (aged 8–9 at the time) witnessing two men parading down the street chanting a slogan calling people to the attack of ‘p*ki’s’.

No slur should be said by anyone

Though people may disagree, I believe that no slur should be used by anyone- regardless of their race.

Each and every slur is associated with intensely heavy semantics. Behind each slur is somebodies struggle, somebodies fight and somebodies story. Each racial group is infused with countless memories and battles and that should not be forgotten. Through the colloquial use of such slurs the hardship faced by those before us is downgraded and disrespected. The constant use of the words so lightly takes away from the memory of those that struggled. For me, the use of such words is a symbol of disrespect.

Personally, I feel that the struggles of those living before us do not give us the entitlement to verbalise racial slurs, no matter what our intention is. The respect for the previous generations outweighs the validation we feel we have to use particular slurs.

We must rejoice in the positive memories of the past generations while dissolving the inequality that is deeply rooted in these slurs. We must not give a voice back to the oppressors.

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Lessons and Enlightenment for the Mind and Heart. My experiences in life summarised into bitesize chunks of advice for your betterment.

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Zen Words

Zen Words

An aspiring psychologist with the goal of providing enlightenment and inspiration for the mind and heart.

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