Warning: excessive use of racial slurs which some may find offensive
It’s slightly irritating when something makes so much sense in my head – it’s crystal clear and it just WORKS – yet when I try to explain it to someone who has no clue, I cannot articulate my thoughts and they literally don’t understand where I’m coming from.
To start with, I’m Bangladeshi; any ethnic roots are Bangladeshi and I was born in Wales. Therefore applying racial slurs like ‘paki’, ‘n*gger’, or ‘Apu’ (from The Simpsons, which has actually happened in the past, how creative) IS offensive. Not because being Pakistani, black or a Hindu is below me, or because I want to show dislike towards people who identify as these, but because you are actually assuming that people of colour are a monolith, and proceeding to apply slurs to anybody who falls under this category. We are each our own, with rich culture and beautiful tradition, so who are you to deny me of my identity? Who are you to apply another [racially discriminating] identification to me? Simply based on the melanin in my skin. Your actual attempt to insult is flawed, before I even begin to dismantle the actual slur.
So, the slurs. Yes, calling a Pakistani person ‘paki’ is racist. No, it isn’t a “shortened version” of a not-particularly-long word (Pakistani). Just because your friend’s half brother’s dog’s postman is ¼ Indian, that does not mean you have a right to the word.
Similarly, yes, calling a black person ‘n*gger’ is racist and no, just because it is used in hip-hop and rap culture, and because it is used by black people themselves, it does not mean you have a right to the word.
What people need to understand is that there is such a pain-filled history to these words. Generations upon generations have suffered from its use; there are people today who are subjected to these words while their ancestors had also been subjected to it, and it hurts to hear it. They know the stories; they know the damage it has caused. So for you to casually throw slurs around with “no bad intent” is ignorant, insensitive and selfish. You may not intend to make another person feel inferior, but the intent is already there, rooted and grounded in the word itself.
And ANYWAY, if a person (who is a victim of years and years of racism) is subject to a specific slur or comment and they tell you that it is racist, then apologise and back the hell up. In the same way to when a woman tells a man that what he has said is sexist, you back the hell up, and so on.
What people don’t understand is that, yes, you are entitled to your own opinion, and, yes, you do have freedom of speech. But that does not – by god, that does not – mean that you understand wholly the experiences of a person, unless you are subject to entirely the same treatment; and thus, the only person who can hold authoritative opinion is the person who has experienced the treatment. Let me try to break this down for you. Would you claim to understand the struggle of a deaf or dumb person? No, because you are not deaf or dumb. So why would you claim to understand any other struggle you have not primarily experienced? Hence, you have no right to invalidate feelings and experiences of marginalised groups, and no right to speak on their behalf.
I think this is the bit where I explain why something is considered racist, because obviously some people are rather confused. Racism has a lot of definitions but to keep this article concise I’m using a compilation of meanings, which, I’ll disclaim, may be biased towards my thinking. Racism is the belief that members of a race, religion, ethnic group or nationality possess characteristics (which are specific to that race), which distinguish it as inferior to other groups. But it’s also so much deeper than that; the inferiority would be a socialised concept, it would be established over so much time and so many generations, and would result in various forms of discrimination to this very day. It often encourages ‘internalised racism’, where these groups begin to grow a hatred for their own people and themselves.
And that takes me on to the use of the term ‘white boy’ or ‘white girl’. To call a white boy/girl these terms does not enforce a cultural socialisation of inferior status; white people have never been considered inferior as a race. It does not do this in the same way that, for example, referring to someone as ‘black boy/girl’ (in a derogatory way) does. It just doesn’t, and if you can’t understand that concept, I can only advise that you re-read the last two sentences, over and over if need be, until you do. Peace out.