“That’s so gay”, “nigger”, and “hahaha”?

It honestly pisses me off when people use those words without regard, without questioning what they mean, or as a joke “among friends”. Why is it okay if you only use it “among friends”? Does decontextualization remove the racist and negative connotations attached to those words? No, because those words can never be decontextualized because the speaker will always be part of this society. There are instances when using those words are okay–when you are part of the community that the “word” refers to. When used self-referentially, it is considered socially acceptable or normal, then the racist or discriminatory implications are neutralized.

When you’re outside of the respective communities, however, what gives you the right to appropriate those words as “jokes” or “slangs among friends”? The word “gay” describes a person’s sexual orientation–and to equate “gay” with “bad”, you are basically stating that gay people are bad, and their “sexual identity” can be used to describe anything that is bad. To use “that’s so gay” or “he’s such a nigger” as “everyday expressions” is an act of utter disrespect and and irresponsibility–because words have meanings, and therefore they have power, and they have consequences. We are all responsible for what we say, and I honestly don’t think you can dismiss the social/historical implications as “simply jokes”. You can’t use that as a justification because then you’re being intentionally ignorant.

“But why does it matter if nobody hears about it, if nobody finds out? It’s not offending anyone.” 

Can there be a more irresponsible, more ignorant and more disrespectful statement as that!????

That was my semi-rant. Now…more issues to consider…

Question. If you insist that those words are racist or discriminatory, does that mean you are perpetuating racism and discrimination? Sometimes I wonder–because to some extent it’s true. To claim a word is racist or discriminatory is to give the word the power to be racist or discriminatory. If you insist on its existence, it will then come into existence.

Is there an answer to this?

Personally though, going back to what I’ve said before, you can never decontextualize those words. Because history exists. Culture exists. Can you dismiss history? Can you dismiss culture?  “Gay” or “nigger” will carry those meanings when they are used in the context of their own histories and social/cultural implications no matter what.

In truth, I have so many questions: Is there a way to solve this? Can it be just an issue of “attitude”? Do I have the right to be “mad”, because I am neither gay or black. Am I right to be accusing others? Can I?

I think, it doesn’t take a gay person or black person to see the truth–to see that it’s wrong and disrespectful. Things like race of sexual orientation or issues of identity or swear words carry so much meaning and sometimes it’s hard to talk about them. The speaker’s “positionality” matters, who you are and where you’re speaking from, who you represent…they all factor into the words you say, because your words will be judged according to who you are. Language is never neutral. It can never be neutral because it will always be in context. (That’s why people should always consider the words and language they are using!!!!!)

If you’re reading this post, please pardon the slight disorganization–I had so many thoughts and I needed to put them down. I hope you leave a comment and tell me what you think about this issue. I’m angry about it, and I’m still trying to make sense of it. I’d appreciate it if you will share your thoughts with me. And I hope, in writing this post, I’ve stirred up some discussion.

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