After all it’s not only words that have the power, it’s the people, it’s the brain. In “Decolonize the Mind” written by GUI WA Tithing, he presents the facts of how culture and language go hand in hand. He states “Language is thus inseparable from ourselves as a community of human beings with a specific form and character, a specific history, a specific relationship to the world. “(Tithing 1002) Freedom of speech is an important part of American culture, and language is a means of expression; yet, it’s how we the people interpret language that holds the true power.
There are many words that are viewed as rude, hurtful and offensive. The words that we choose to use should be a reflection of what we want to express. We all fear of offending each other because of saying the wrong choice of words. Yet, “offensive” words are still Just words, it’s the meaning of the word that holds the power. As Gloria Analogy states in “Mommy, What Does ‘Niger’ Mean? ” she says “Words themselves are innocuous; it is the consensus that gives them true power. “(Analogy 420) Analogy is saying that words are painless; it’s the mind that gives words power.
I believe that it’s how a person associates a particular word with a distinctive feeling that really hold the power. Eve always heard the saying as a young child “Sticks and stones can break y bones, but words can never hurt me”. No matter what another individual says to another individual it’s Just a word, a means of communication. It’s only the stones that can break a person. Just like Analogy stated words are “innocuous” meaning harmless and innocent. “Words are Just how we as a society communicate; now it’s how society interprets those words to certain feelings.
It’s self-confidence that can be bruised and not our bones. Each and every person has unique feelings, and feelings are connected with words. I have a different feeling towards the word “fat” because I am in fact very self-conscious about my own body. Yet, if another person heard the word “fat” and they were very confident in their body I doubt he or she word associate that word with a negative feeling. Words are Just words it’s what the individual truly believes about that word that gives the word such dominance within society.
There are millions of words in the English dictionary; if a person didn’t understand a word it wouldn’t hold as much power. Words are Just how we express our feeling to each other, positive or negative. Jonathan Reach is the author of “In defense of Prejudice” he stated, “To suppress bigoted language seems, at first blush, seasonable, but it quickly leads to a curious result… As though words were bigoted, rather than people”. (Reach 573) It Justifies saying that such an advanced society should be analyzing different cultural values and belief systems, taking a word for what it is worth and growing a thicker skin.
If did not know the meaning of a specific word, I wouldn’t associate the word with a negative or positive feeling because I don’t know the meaning. It’s the definition of the word that matters when it comes to interpreting and understanding the word. For example if someone called me a heifer” I would Just smile because I don’t understand the definition. It’s human instinct to try to feel comfortable when in an awkward situation, due to the fact I didn’t know the meaning of this word. The true definition is offensive word toward a female saying she is fat, ugly, rude and bitchy.
In reality the person who said this word to myself did in fact, know the meaning. He or she intentionally said such a rude word in order to inflict a negative attitude. I didn’t understand the context of the word therefore; I didn’t connect the word ‘heifer’ with a negative or painful feeling. In there words because I didn’t know it was a negative word, it didn’t offend me. This shows my theory that words do not hold the same amount of power when the context is unknown to the individual. Words do hold power over people but it’s the meaning and context that holds the key.
In the dictionary the word cripple means “a person who is disabled or impaired in any way’. The word ‘cripple’ is an offensive word in societies eyes, people often gesture towards lighter words; such as handicap or disabled. These are all very powerful words used to define the incapable people living within society. I have two cripple parents who both cannot live a normal life due to their chronic disabilities. When people see my mother or father I’m sure they automatically associate the word handicap in order to define them. Yet, my parents are in fact cripple not handicap.
The word handicap means they can do the same exact things as normal people but it takes them longer to do so, which is not the case. When in public people do one of the three things. Either people are so scared to say the wrong thing in fear of offending them; or people say way too much and try to help them in anyway they can. Or most often people Just stare and say nothing at all. My father calls it all pity, he has both legs amputated above the knee. Because of their disabilities people are very sensitive when choosing what to say to my parents.
When reading the essay “On Being a Cripple” written by Nancy Impairs she states, “l am a cripple. I choose the word to name me…. People -crippled or not- wince at the word ‘cripple,’ as they do not ‘handicapped’ or ‘disabled. ‘ Perhaps I want them to see me as a tough customer, one whom the fates/gods/virtues have not been kind, but who can face the brutal truth of her existence squarely. As a cripple, I swagger”. (Analogy 46) Impairs is saying is that she would only ever called her self this ‘cripple’, she knows that it would be offensive to call anyone else by this word.
Impairs understands that people jump at the word cripple but I ask myself why? The word is a perfect description of not only her but my parents also. So why does society believe it’s such a harmful word? Well simply because the meaning has been twisted, people have been taught that certain words should not be said. Like the word cripple, it Just means someone who has lost control of their limbs but still people wince at the word. It’s because it’s always being viewed as an offensive, and cruel word.
Society only refers to cripple people as two politically acceptable words: disabled and handicap. Mars wants people to look at her different because she accepts herself as a cripple. My parents both have accepted their disability and use it their advantage, Just as Impairs says “As a cripple, I swagger”. At the end of the day words do hold power but the all mighty power lies in the meaning of the word. Humans all are the same and we all make mistakes but you can’t change experience. You can’t change your feeling towards rods, which have in the past been connected to hurtful emotions.