Sticks and stones may break my bones, and words can actually hurt me

TW: faggot, the “N” word



“Quit being such a faggot!”…

“What’s up my n**gas?”

“What’s the matter fag boy?”

“Stupid n**ger!”

These are only a few of the numerous comments I hear from day to day as I walk around Randolph. Over the years, especially since I came to Randolph, I have grown to feel empathy for people who are not like me. I am a Caucasian, straight, male from a small town in the Midwest. Where I am from, there is not a lot of diversity, at least compared to Lynchburg, Virginia. I first started listening to rap and hip hop music when I was in junior high. Many people who listen to rap and hip hop realize that the “N” word gets thrown around a lot. This happens more so in today’s day and age than it did many years ago. African Americans have found a way to reclaim the “N” word and use it as a slang term in today’s hip hop music culture. However, people of all races and ethnicities at one point or another can find themselves guilty of using the “N” word, whether it be singing along to a song or just using it as a slang term in casual conversations with their friends.

Another word that has accumulated a lot of use over the years is the word “faggot”. This word is used by a lot of people in society today, but half the time it is not being used in reference to a homosexual individual. These words are just thrown around, day in and day out, most of the time without any thought of what someone is actually saying when they choose to use these words. I am guilty of using these words in the past, and it is never in a negative way towards someone. I feel as if I found it easy to use these words because I am a white, heterosexual male. I never really thought about how these words can affect people until I watched the movie Tongues Untied with my girlfriend for one of her classes.

This movie was made by a gay, African American film director named Marlon Riggs. It is a semi-documentary that explores the lives of individuals of the gay black community in  the 80s. Before watching this film, I was able to use these two words freely without really thinking about what I am saying.

My perspective on these words changed once I watched this movie. This movie gave first-hand accounts from individuals who were the targets of discrimination and hatred towards them because they were gay and black. Gay, black men told of times when they were beaten and spit on for 1) The color of their skin and 2) The fact they were homosexual. It is not hard to see that blacks and gay/lesbian individuals have not been fully accepted in today’s societies around the world. It is safe to say that not many people truly understand what it is like to be a part of either of those groups and the struggles these people have to endure.

As I sat and watched the movie and listened to the different stories, it made me feel somewhat disgusted as I put myself in the shoes of the individuals and tried to imagine what it would be like to experience such hatred for something that was out of my control. Not only did these people have to overcome prejudices against them because of race, but also hatred based on their sexual orientation.

After watching this movie, I felt changed. I hear the “N” words and “faggot” being said and they have different meaning to me now. I am capable of not using these words as freely as I did before, mostly because I have a better understanding of the effects it can have on the people those words are meant to represent. This movie opened me up to a new way of feeling empathy towards people who may seem different than me and that I might not fully understand right away.

Are there words that you and your friends use on a daily basis such as bitch, slut, faggot, or n**ga? How are you using these words? Do you think there is a way you can use these words in a way that does not demean another person? I would love to hear your feedback on some slang terms that are used today that if not used wisely, could end up offending the wrong person.

P.S. I urge you to watch the movie Tongues Untied by Marlon Riggs in order to get a better understanding on my perspective on the “N” word and “faggot”, and other possibly offensive slang terms used today.


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