Racially degrading names can not become slang. Calling your friend “n*****” can not be the norm. Neither can people joke that Mexicans are “beaners” or “wetbacks.” Nor should indigenous people be okay with people calling them “redskins.” Why? Because we are better than that as a society, than to accept subtle racism.
When we accept that people can say those names, we neglect to remember the pain and shame people once felt hearing those word. When we say that it is okay for this person, or that person to say those words, we neglect to understand to ignorance is never an excuse. When we say these words, we perpetuate the cycle of hatred.
We, as society, should actively inform people that words that were once used to degrade another culture, race, creed, sexual orientation, any cohort of society is not okay.
At this point, 50-some odd years after the civil right movement took place, there should never be the excuse of “oh well, I didn’t know.” You do know, you should know. There are classes in college, high school, heck, they even teach elementary kids about this stuff. No, they don’t explicitly say “don’t say these words.” But really, you should be smart enough to understand that anything; any word, action, insinuation once used to degrade anyone is not, should not, will not be okay ever.
And there’s no exception to who can say it or who can’t. “Well, I’m Mexican, so I can say I’m a beaner.” No, you can’t. “But, I’m black, so I can call my buddy n*****.” No, you can’t. When we as member of the ethnic group say it’s okay for some to say it, we open the door to other people saying it. So if you wouldn’t want someone else calling you that, why would you even let that word slip out of your mouth!?
Someone once told me, we give these word power when we don’t say them. That the more we said them, the more they would become meaningless. But that’s not true. We don’t give them power by not saying them, years and years and years of people using them as derogatory terms gave them the power they have. People saying these words over and over gives it the power to continue.
I know that connotation can change the meaning of a word. Time can change the way words are used, but these words has so much history and bad blood behind them. Why can’t we just let them die? Why?