By Sherry Pasquarello,WWH/CJE - I had been thinking about this type of thing for a long time, in a sort of hazy musing way, but a question posed by a Facebook friend (a lady I do not know personally) started me thinking seriously about “politically correct” terms.
She is a black woman and she has a lot of followers on Facebook. She asked if the term, “black” was offensive. The answers were dependent on the ages of the respondents more so, I think, than the ethnicity. People around my age were in our teens and early twenties when “black” was reclaimed as in , “say it loud, I’m black and proud” and the term “black power” or the “Black Panthers”. When I was in grade school, my parents and family would never have said, black. It was, “colored” or “negro”. BLACK was a terrible word and deemed a slur and hurtful. Other people that answered her question seemed surprised that she even asked. They were younger, around my daughter’s age or less. Some of them disliked the term “colored” but “people of color” is O.K. Me? I’m getting old enough to be confused. I have the sinking feeling that soon, I am going to be out of touch altogether like my mom was. She went to her grave never calling a “colored” person black because she insisted that it was rude and hurtful. I’m afraid, five years down the road I am going to offend some young person by using the wrong term. I’m not kidding. It may not seem like a big deal to a lot of people but I was raised with my grandparents and they were from the old country. We would NEVER have said , “wop” or “dago” though now I have family members, younger, and friends that do use those terms freely about themselves. I don’t. It’s my choice. I don’t complain about those that do. It’s not that big of a deal to me personally but I know others, especially older folks that would be quite hurt or angry.
Not being a person of color, I can’t speak for anyone that is. I also know that no group speaks with one voice. We are human beings not bees or ants. I can speak about my life and my feelings towards being female or white or a (GASP)senior citizen or daughter, mother, aunt, wife, grandmother… but I know that others in my same demographics may disagree and with their own good reasons.
So, I suppose my point is this one. Sometimes people say things that aren’t meant as a slight or to be cruel. Sometimes, like me, we are just getting older and like me, don’t get out and interact with many people. The closest I come to mingling, outside of grocery stores, doctor and dental visits, hair cuts and my buddy’s Pub, is on my computer. Many times I have to go to the URBAN DICTIONARY to find out what a term means. Yes, it’s true. I’ve also discovered that I know almost none of the artists at the Grammys and haven’t seen any of the Oscar nominated films unless they hit NETFLIX.
In closing, back to the beginning. Is “black” acceptable or is it a term on the way out of style, like people my age? I really need to know because I really don’t like hurting someone’s feelings or making someone angry. Life is too damn short to not share smiles instead of hurt or anger. Thanks.