Friday, April 16, 2010

"Mommy, what's a nigger?"

I hate that word. It’s one of the most disgusting words in the English language. Pardon me for writing it.

Nigger.

I heard it used today by two old white men sitting on a couch in a public gym, talking loudly. Talking as if they don’t care who hears them. Talking about how that one politician is working for the “niggers” and not for “people like me.”

I went to my local gym to work out and as I headed toward the treadmill, two elderly men were talking politics. One liberally used this word. I heard him quite loudly.

I should have reprimanded him, didn’t. I was in a hurry and could barely squeeze in a workout. Minutes later, a mother and her young children came into the workout room. I don’t know if the two obnoxious men were gone. I hope so. Because it sickens me to think of these two young kids, probably around the ages of 4-6, asking, “Mommy, what’s a nigger?”

“People like me.” That’s another phrase I hate. Because it sets you aside, as if you were unique and deserving of special attention and everyone else is below you. Thinking like that, dividing everyone into classes and races, is where hate starts.

Hate like racial discrimination, ethnic bigotry and religious intolerance can lead to genocide of entire races. It happened during WWII. Rwanda. Bosnia. So many other examples.

Peace will never be possible when words like nigger are still liberally sprinkled into conversation, like salt on meat.

It got to me especially today because
I read this gripping article about a young woman from Kosovo who is advocating peace. Her village was targeted by Serbian paramilitary units who were rounding up Albanian Muslims for execution. Her brother and sister are still missing.

Read it and see if it doesn’t move you to tears.

Discrimination. Prejudice. Hatred. Sometimes as a regular working Josephine, I feel like there is little I can do to combat them and make the world a more peaceful place.

Maybe that’s why I’m tackling these subjects in the Nocturne I’m writing that’s due in three weeks. A wolf with unique abilities is shunned and hated for the magick she wields. She is feared because she is different. She’s not seen as normal.

I feel pretty strongly about this book and after looking over what I wrote, can see the underlying social theme in it. Oh it’s entertainment and romance and all works out well in the end. But the theme is there just the same.

It’s a theme close to my heart. When the hatred and fear end, and understanding and tolerance replaces them, maybe then we will have peace.

I complained at the desk after my workout, but there’s nothing that can be done. Nothing unless I run into those men again. Next time, I’m not keeping my mouth shut, no matter how little time I have.

I’m saying something to them. Because in a way, I’m just as guilty. When we keep quiet about discrimination, and hated words, we enable the hatred to continue.

Maybe, someday, in this world, the hatred will stop. Until then, I have to become an active participant in stopping it.

By starting with confronting people who use words like that.

No comments: