CAN WE PLEASE STOP: PART 1

Words have meaning. Words have impact. There are many terms used in the everyday vocabulary when discussing race and racial issues that are accepted and understood without much real thought or understanding of the context within which they emerged or continue to live. The terms are heard, or they impact, People of Color differently than they do their White counterparts. They are most often used in ways designed to show one’s affinity to addressing
racially divisive issues or actions. They are often used as a way to demonstrate that one is an
ally with the work of racial inclusivity. This brief article attempts to bring a different perspective to the use of these terms; to suggest that they are not always heard in the way they are meant because quite possibly they are not really understood when they are spoken. This is not to demean or disparage those who use the terms with positive intent. It is designed to suggest that unless there is a real understanding of the meaning and impact of these terms, Please Stop using them, or at least use them with a new understanding of how they will be heard. There are many of these words that are used every day. This Blog will explore some of these terms as well as other issues of importance.

We are a Nation of Immigrants
Please Stop. It is a catchy phrase to make oneself feel a part of the diverse fabric of this country, and an attempt to respond to the nationalistic sentiments of the day. The problem is that we are a nation made up of immigrants, and we are not. We are a nation that committed genocidal acts against the Native people of this country. To use this phrase erases their history and this nation’s history of horrific acts committed against them. Broken promises, massacre after massacre, Wounded Knee, The Trail of Tears; First Nation people are not immigrants. We are a nation that bought and sold people who were brought to this country in chains. African American history is not one of immigration. It is one of slavery. My great grandfather and grandmother were slaves. My family history is based in slavery, and the legacy of a people being stolen from their homeland and brought to this country. That is not immigration, and to imply as much ignores reality. We are a nation that purchased parts of Mexico, and in one day, people went from being citizens of one country to being citizens of another. Many Latinos/Chicanos in the west and southwest will clearly describe their family history and that they didn’t cross any border, the border crossed them. To describe this country as a nation of immigrants is to ignore or be oblivious to the creation of this country.

Please Stop.

Dante JamesComment