Racially degrading names can not become slang.

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?

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Hispanic Heritage Month

Okay, first to talk about Hispanic Heritage Month, we have to define  what Hispanic means. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Hispanic is defined as “coming originally from an area where Spanish is spoken and especially from Latin America.”

I am a Hispanic, Latina, Mexican-American, and Tejana. People get caught up in the labels of it all, and they prefer to be called this and not that. But basically the term “Hispanic” was a term made up in order to label all the Spanish-speakers living in America. This is due to the fact that unlike Asians or Africans we don’t all come from the same area. Some of us are from Central America, some are from Europe, some are from the Caribbeans and some are from South America.

Now, why is this month important?  In my opinion, Hispanics in the U.S. haven’t moved up the ranks on the social totem pole unlike other cultures have.

Especially when people  like Ann Coulter  are perpetuating the lie of “Latin American rape culture.”(Author’s note: I know not all Hispanics are Latin American.)  They say these words as if other cultures don’t rape people. I’m not in any way saying rape is okay. But stereotyping an entire culture is just not right.

But our culture isn’t based on rape and drug cartels. It’s based on family. It’s based on determination, on pots of beans and piles of tortillas. It’s based on ballet folkorico, on tangos, on  cuecas, on  rumbas. It’s based on passion and fast talking. It’s based on a lot of love and hard work. That’s what we are. Those are our roots.

Hispanics deserve a month to be celebrated because some are too ashamed to admit they are Hispanic. In some places we don’t even get the opportunity to claim our heritage (ya know those forms that say “check if you are: white, black, Alaskan Native, Asian, or bicultural” yeah, I’m not any of those.) There are some people that look down on us because of our heritage.  There are people who underestimate us because of who we are. We are a mighty group of people who should never be underestimated, but instead celebrated.

Love Doesn’t Have a Language

On my dad’s side of the family, I am part of the first generation whose first language is English. My grandparents immigrated from Mexico and became citizens of the USA around 50 years ago. Then when the came to the states, they lived in places with a predominate Hispanic population. So they never really needed to learn English. I grew up hearing Spanish,  I understand it completely. If you give me something in Spanish, I can tell you what you said in English. It’s just speaking that’s my problem. Conjugating, grammar, forming thoughts, sentence structures. It’s hard for my mouth to keep up with my thoughts in English, so to do it in Spanish (and with proper grammar) is like 10 times harder.

My grandparents always seem to think that there’s language barrier that affects our relationship. They say that I need to “learn the language of my people.” But I don’t think there is such thing as a language barrier when it comes to love.

See my great grandmother is almost 103, over my 19 years on this earth we have had few conversations. She only speaks Spanish, I mainly speak English. But more than anything, I know she love me and I love her. She thinks of me daily and has prayed over me every single day since before I was even conceived. She is so proud of me and all that I am becoming. That’s love.

me and welita

Love is such a strong thing that expands beyond something as little as language. Love is more than words stringed together into perfect sentences. Love is better than all the letters, words, phrase, sentences, paragraphs. Love knows no languages. It bonds together the sweetest of relationships that no one can explain. No words can quite describe love.  But in some weird way, love is a language. It’s everyone’s first language. We come out of the womb with love.

This Mexican-American’s view on Black Lives Matter

I wrote this for my sociology class and I got a lot of positive feedback on it, so here it is:

I stand with the Black Lives Matter movement. No, I am not saying that only black lives matter, because I believe that we all have the right to live. This is a basic right that should never be taken away from us based on creed, color, occupation or orientation. But the Black Lives Matter movement brings to light the countless lives being lost due to police brutality. Black Lives Matter is not an anti-police movement, because not all policemen are bad. Just like in everything, there is good and there is bad. The Black Lives Matter movement is a way to say we will not stay silent as countless black lives are being slain for little to no reason without the killers receiving adequate punishment. A black person should not have to worry that a normal traffic stop could turn into their last moments. A black child should not have to worry if their mom or dad will come home every time they leave their house. Yes, all lives do matter, but right now is the time to bring focus on the fact that black lives matter. I saw this on one of the countless social media discussions and I believe that it accurately shows what I mean by that “Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter is like this, Bob is sitting at the dinner table. Everyone else gets a plate of food except Bob. Bob says “Bob Deserves Food”. Everyone at the table responds with “Everyone Deserves Food” and continues eating. All though Everyone Deserves Food is a true statement, it does nothing to actually rectify the fact that BOB HAS NO FOOD!!” All lives matter takes away from the focus that black lives matter. We as society need to pull together to ensure the safety of all individuals. That way all lives are able to live despite their creed, color, occupation or orientation.

Racism and Redskins.

Since I was a kid my parents taught me that racism isn’t okay. That one day I’d be judged based on what I looked and that I shouldn’t make fun of someone based on their ethnicity.

At the age of 12, I was told by a kid that I should wipe the dirt off their legs to ” practice the work of my people.” One of my dear friends was told that she would never be able to get what she was working on right because all she would ever be was “just blonde and stupid.”

See, I flat out tell my friends that I do not do racist jokes because to me; they just aren’t funny. Recently, I stopped characterizing people by their ethnicity. “So I was talking to some asian dude…” or “I accidentally bumped into this black girl…” Why does it matter what race they are? It’s not necessary, so I just stop saying it.

The whole thing about the Redskins controversy that irks me is that people say it’s just a name.

It ISN’T just a name.

Otherwise, n***** would be just a word.
Maybe teens have made it to be just a word, but it isn’t. I know I would never be caught dead cheering for a team called “the n words” or “the crackers” or “the beaners.” So, I am definitely not a Redskins fan.

I feel that the right to change the team’s name should be given to any Native American citizen. That if they feel that it’s something that degrades them it should not be used. I feel people should have the decency to respect other people and their cultures.

Maybe to people it’s just a logo or just a name. But to me, it’s the thought that we have not evolved as a nation to accepted other people.

Maybe I’m just hyper sensitive but I’d rather be hypersensitive than insensitive any day.

It’s a petty argument for the mere fact that the answer is simple.
It’s a derogatory slang.
It’s not okay.

-kristan