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Joshua Lee

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Is the language we use perpetuating the racial divide?

When I started working at the University I was asked, "Who do you relate to?" I answered unawares of their intention, "My wife." To which there was a pause... an irritated pause... ,"No, What race do you identify with?" Response, "The human race."

This only provides a small example into the plethora of ways that language contributes to how we perceive ourselves and others. This example illustrates how language shapes identity or at least perceived identity and its association with our race. It gives clues to how society contributes to a divide that no longer should exist. I believe that we can move beyond defining ourselves through race. We can rebuild ourselves through language and allow growth to truly take place.

Perhaps then a lack of opportunities wouldn't be presented as a racial issue but an economic issue, perhaps stereotypes would disappear and we would be able to characterize each other based on work ethic not racial stigmas, Perhaps we would be able to address the social issues from a less jaded perspective. Maybe now is the time that we stop making up for our ancestors mistakes and start working together as true equals.

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  • Jun 27 2013: As long as the language you're talking about doesn't define in the partial ways, yeah.



    Needless to say, language helps form ideas called ‘thoughts’ and communicate with others logically, effectively and profoundly—depending on how you use it.

    Language affects us a lot more than we think.

    If we can use it in proper (or more innovational(?)) ways to get rid of the barrier called 'racial divide—to quote', it would be not only an awesome tool, but also a huge change throughout the world.

    It all depends on ‘how’ you use your language with less partial definite expressions.
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      Jun 28 2013: Can you be more specific? I like this train of thought and would like to explore the implications of what you are saying.
      • Jun 28 2013: I thought being specific would rather make it sound just…. specific..lol

        Okay,
        for instance, with a little discretion and sensitivity, anyone can at least avoid being called a racist.
        Like I said before, "Language affects us a lot more than we think."
        Even if you don’t really mean to make prejudiced or partial expressions with what you think about something, others could take it really seriously or in a different way.
        (Btw, considering…this, comedians are so clever..)

        Simply considering consequences wouldn’t hurt.
        (I’m not sure this example gives you any clarity of what I wrote above.
        It might just sound like some sort of an easy(well, not easy)-way-out. )

        But see above ‘pat gilbert’s comment.
        “Give the racism thing a rest.”

        Doesn’t he sound like he’s fed up with even a word of ‘race’?
        I totally understand what he meant by that.

        But it also reminds me of the fact that quite many people are get tired of hearing debates on sensitive issues like ‘racism’ while not even making an effort to avoid making that kind of issues, you know what I mean?

        The language we use can perpetuate the ‘racial divide’ unless we unconsciously make that sensitive, yet invisible barrier solid.
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          Jun 28 2013: What does this mean: "But it also reminds me of the fact that quite many people are get tired of hearing debates on sensitive issues like ‘racism’ while not even making an effort to avoid making that kind of issues?"
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          Jun 28 2013: Re: "Doesn’t he sound like he’s fed up with even a word of ‘race’?
          I totally understand what he meant by that."

          I agree. We know we don't have a problem when we don't even know that this is a problem. So, as long as we keep saying 'race', 'race', we know we have an issue. So, we shouldn't have these discussions UNLESS we do have an issue.
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        Jun 29 2013: Barry, Sean, Elizabeth, Joshua, Fritzie, and Arkady,
        I like this train of thought too! I believe there still is a racial issue for many people, and I also believe that more and more people all the time are making an attempt to understand and accept people of different cultures. I agree with Elizabeth... "Language affects us a lot more than we think.". If we become more aware of language and how we are using it, perhaps it would not cause as much of a racial divide?
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        Jun 29 2013: Good point. I very rarely see a need to describe a person based on race. Most of the time, we can use their name, or if we don't have a name, calling each other a "person" works, because that is what we all are, first and foremost:>)

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