TED Conversations

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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    Jul 2 2013: Every thing in this world including language is neutral,

    We are the ones who attach meanings to these things which are essentially neutral.

    To a sage or an animal there is no signicant difference between gold and stone.
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      Jul 2 2013: I agree Adesh, How do you suppose we get to a point where the meanings attached are void of dividing nuances?
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        Jul 2 2013: Joshua you harbour utopian dreams.

        Your dreams may never be realised but you will definitly evolve as a human being. Keep dreaming, keep growing.
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          Jul 2 2013: Perhaps, I do have utopian dreams and I can hope for all mankind that they are realized. I appreciate your comments.

          I would argue though that this particular subject is not one that would fulfill the stipulations around a utopian society but instead would harbor progress to solving the bigger questions with more focus and less distraction.

          In addition, I feel this is a discussion that if started now on a global scale we may have the opportunity to bring about change and accomplish societies that are free from division.
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          Jul 2 2013: Everything starts with a dream.....in my humble perception:>)

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