We all know words, in and of themselves aren't inherently bad, context is key. I've recently experienced a few, well several, but a few stand out as being particularly puzzling. Well, no; they aren't really puzzling. You see, I understand the power of words, if not the particular power of these words; especially not to the extent in which power has been assigned.
First instance: A few months ago whilst buying some necessities at Sally's Beauty Supply there was a robbery. Cues Batman music and totally wishes I could find a Bam! to add right here...damn that would rock. Sorry. As I stood at the front register trying to convince myself that I needed any number of mud packs, foot creams and hair serums, I heard a commotion happening in the back of the store. The cashier looked up in the spy-cam-mirror-doodad as the other store employee-who'd just minutes earlier told me she had a baby 8 weeks ago, engaged in a verbal altercation with the Beauty Supplies Bandit.
"What did you just put in your bag, take it out!" The employee scolded. "I don't got nothing bitch", the bandit retorts. No, that's not the bad word, keep reading. "Get outta my way!" "Don't you tell me nothing", says the employee, in a pretty good mom voice for a newbie. And, then the woman says, "Do you want to see what's in my bag bitch?! Do you?! Do you?!" And, the employee screams "Oh my god she has a gun! Call the police!" Don't ask me why I am still waiting to pay for my beauty supplies, ahem necessities. Thinking back, who cares if my feet were a little rough and dry whilst tagged and hanging stiffly from a morgue slab. Grimaces.
And, now for the bad word part:
As the Beauty Supplies Bandit is exiting right behind me- Man do I ever need a "Yikes!" right here.-New Mom follows suit and peers out the window to get the license plate info. The now quite shaken cashier is soon connected with a 911 operator and says, "There's been a robbery and she says she has a gun" Pause. Hang on, she's swiping my card now. "Um...Sally Beauty Supply-[address omitted to stave off crazy blogger stalkers] a woman, yes...um..uh..an er, um ethnic woman. She's about 5'-I dunno short, uh...maybe 5'7." She recounts as she looks to New Mom for reassurance. 5'7 is not short. What am I then, microscopic? The cashier looks to me and says, "What would you say she was?" I say, "That's about right." But, what I want to say is, " She was Black, what the hell does ethnic look like? Just say BLACK, it's not a bad word."
Anyway, I didn't say that, but I've been thinking about it for months. Clearly, I'm not hoping I get the opportunity to say it next time, but I've been wondering if there were others who struggle with using the word Black? Or perhaps there is some other identifier of which you are uncomfortable. Please share.
Note: You can certainly use the Anonymous commenting feature for this post if you so desire, all input is appreciated.