When you don’t know what to say

FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2015 file photo, Amy Robach attends the 25th Annual Glamour Women of the Year Awards in New York. Robach has apologized for using a term for African Americans on Monday’s broadcast of the ABC program. After the broadcast, Robach released a statement explaining she had meant to say “people of color.”She called the incident “a mistake” and “not at all a reflection of how I feel or speak in my everyday life.” (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File): FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2015 file photo, Amy Robach attends the 25th Annual Glamour Women of the Year Awards in New York. Robach has apologized for using a term for African Americans on Monday’s broadcast of the ABC program. After the broadcast, Robach released a statement explaining she had meant to say “people of color.” She called the incident “a mistake” and “not at all a reflection of how I feel or speak in my everyday life.” (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)Good Morning America’s (GMA) Amy Robach is not a having a good morning right now.  She said the wrong word during an on- air show.  To be sure, it was a racial slur: colored people.

I know, I know.  It’s really close to the word now being used: people of color.  But, not really.

People of color is a word chosen by the… people of color.  They own it.  They control it.  It was not a name given but a name chosen as an identifier.

Colored people is not a new name and it has a long and troubling history.  Used to segregate, demean and dehumanize, we have the signs to prove it.  It is not a name chosen by persons of African descent but a name assigned.  See the difference?

In ancient times, naming was associated with ownership.  The practice was reinstated during American slavery (though some would argue that this can also be associated with marriages wherein the woman takes on the name of her husband) when enslaved Africans were given new names, names which most of us still have today.  Our last names remind us of a history lost, an ancestral family taken away, a culture far removed from us and deep connections lost.

So, it’s not just a word.  It’s not just a name.  It matters what we say and persons have the right to choose what they will answer to.  So, when you don’t know what to say, ask.  How would you like to be referred to?

If you don’t want to ask and if there is a tinge of anger due to this suggestion, well then, there are some other questions that need to be asked of you.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s