In the last couple of days, I have taken it upon myself to jot a note down on a sheet of paper anytime someone in my grade at Yavneh Academy says something offensive. In this blog post, I will be listing the comments said by some of my classmates and responding to them.
1) "I am terrified of Black people, completely frightened of them, just-Black people scare me."
The ironic thing about comments like this one is that in school, we have done several extensive units on race, and talked so much about the horrors of racism. We have had to write essays on books that's plots revolve around youth dealing with racism- yet comments like these are still heard through the hallways from the children. After all of that learning, after all of the discussion, there seems to be this default setting of "racist" in some individuals. I do firmly believe, however, that if you find comments like this offensive, it is your obligation to educate the individual making them. Through maturity and further education, we can eradicate the exist of offensive language such as this.
2) "I dare you to call a Black person 'cocoa'".
Whenever anyone from New York asks me if the South is really as racist as the stereotypes suggest, I hesitate to say no, and it's because I hear comments like this one on a daily basis. There's a blog with very educational information on this subject, the blog lays out the 'dos and dont's' of writing non-white characters- "In an attempt of seduction, a White guy once told me that my skin was like 'the bite into a Reese’s.' Needless to say, I was not seduced. It can get extremely uncomfortable, being or witnessing Black people and other POC being compared to food, even as a 'compliment.'
'I love me some chocolate men.'
'Your skin’s like mocha latte.
'I wanna piece of that chocolate.'
See how often these comparisons are connected to some sensual desire? As if people...are food to consume? This frequent comparison to cocoa and such just in time to highlight some kinky craving is not just grounds of a fetish, it’s dehumanizing. Honestly, this quote from notanotherrph says it best.
[Text reads: NEVER use the words ‘chocolate’ or ‘coffee’ or any other food related word to describe someone’s skin color, especially someone of color. I wrote a whole paper about how referring to darker skin tones as specifically chocolate was about aggression and appropriation and has links to colonialism. Think about it, what is the best way to show dominance? By eating someone - like in the animal kingdom. It’s a disgusting practice, so please watch yourself while writing biographies and replying to people, or even in your short stories/novels.] Get this. Cocoa. Coffee. They drove the slave trade. They still drive the slave trade. So comparing your Black character to these foodstuffs? You can see why it’s cause for offense,"
Not only that, but the comment itself, without the explanation is offensive- calling a black person 'cocoa' is unimaginably cruel and unneeded.
3) "Asians are so short, why are they so tiny??"
The individuals who were participating in this racism then either doubled over in laughter, or got close to the floor and pretended to be shorter than they really were in an attempt to mock Asian people. This is a stereotype, and it is racism. This comment followed by the mocking was extremely offensive.
4) In my grade, there recently has been repetitive use of the word "faggot".
"'Faggot' - A pejorative word describing homosexual men or those who embrace feminine or stereotypical gay male behavior patterns. The origin of the term is controversial but "faggot" has traditionally meant a bundle of sticks and thus in reference to gay men would insinuate the action of burning a gay man at the stake," ( http://queersunited.blogspot.com/2008/06/word-of-gay-faggot.html). This is the said origin of the word "faggot"; I have done my best to inform those I know who use it, as I will continue to do. No matter where the word came from, today it is considered among the majority of the LGBTQAP+ community incredibly offensive for individuals outside of the LGBTQAP+ community to use.
These are a few of the comments I've heard in the last few days, which were greatly disappointing to me. However, the point of this blog post was to educate those reading, and to minimize the use of comments like these.