01
Mar
13

All Things Are NOT Equal

There is a tendency among many white people to get mad when someone is called out for saying something that is considered a racial slur, such as “nigger-rigged” or “towel head” or “an illegal” or whatever. It’s not that they necessarily deny the fact that such terms have racist or bigoted overtones, but they try to deflect and blunt the accusations of insensitivity by pointing to other terms.

They’ll argue, “Well, it’s just as racist to say [dago, kike, mick, honky, etc.] as it is to say those other things, but where’s the outrage when those terms are used?”

First off, let’s stop with the false equivalency.

Black and Hispanics are routinely targeted by police and punished more severely than whites for the same or similar crimes. People of color are routinely passed over for jobs or promotions for no other reason than the color of their skin. They are often given worse healthcare and less attention in school and get denied housing far more often than whites. I could go on, but either you recognize these things or you stubbornly insist they aren’t true, so I’ll stop.

Point is, a racial or ethnic slur related to a group that is routinely shat upon is inherently worse than one directed at a group that is far less antagonized and has much more privilege.

A slur at a Jewish person still carries a lot of weight, because there are seriously violent anti-Semitic folks around still. However, they still fall slightly down the severity list (at least in North America) from slurs against folks like blacks, Latinos and Muslims.

As for Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans and other such groups for which there are colorful slurs, how often are those groups actually discriminated against in this country? Particularly in comparison to non-whites.

You throw around the N-word, and you’re throwing around something volatile. Call me a “honky,” and that hardly even registers; it certain won’t hurt my feelings. You might as well call me a “ninny” or a “weirdo” or a “geek.”

Wouldn’t it be better…far better…to work toward everyone in the country actually being treated the same based on their personalities, behaviors, skills, etc. regardless of color, ethnicity or religion rather than trying to make like slurs against people who have the upper hand are anywhere remotely equivalent?

Because when you do that, or point out to me that “gyp” is a slur (derived from Gypsy)…and yes, I do try to catch myself before speaking that word, and I haven’t used “Indian giver” in ages…when you do those kinds of things and say they’re just as bad (when was the last time you even met someone who strongly identified as a Gypsy?), I can only think one thing. You know you’re wrong, and you’re getting defensive.

I’m not saying any slur is good.

But stop trying to say they’re all equal.

At least until there’s actually equal treatment and equal opportunity in this country.



Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

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