“If you want to care for something, you call it a flower; If you want to kill something , you call it a weed.” — -Don Coyhis.
I walked with my daughter to a local high school to get her teen’s work paper.
We saw construction going on outside the high school GYM, and as we walked toward the GYM, the construction workers whistled at us. Why? Because two women walked on the public road built with their taxes.
Words are the bread and butter of human connections, and words influence the way we see ourselves and others. It can also contribute to shame and stigma for you and others.
How often do you label yourself or others in negative terms and fought tooth and nail because “the demeaning word” belongs to your family heritage?
Take a second and reflect on words you used or heard at home, school, work, or music, for example, bitch, nigger, hoes, whore, fat, angry black woman, and others. Bless yourself with positive words.
The picture of when a police officer murdered George Floyd is still in some of our minds. It taught us to look inward and start working honestly on our issues. It starts with me.
“Words are powerful, and consistent auditory exposure to an ideal can have concrete effect on people mentality .” — Uzochi P. Nwoko
You don’t use words to degrade yourself and others.
Empowered people don’t use derogatory terms like nigger, hoes, bitch, sissy, “Akata,” angry black woman, fat, and others.
Our demeaning language contributes to self-hate and ills in society, such as racism, sexism, colorism, classism, homophobia, and all forms of discrimination.
Millions of people tune into Rap/Hip-hop music, and TV talk shows every second. The entertaining industries enrich themselves, and yet poverty flourishes in many black and brown communities.
I am not blaming you, but my years of observation tell the story of racism and oppression by the so-called “saviors.”
Take a tour to a black/brown community near you and observe where Nike, Rap, and Hip-Hop corporations make their trillions of dollars. Sneakers, fast-food, and music have replaced a functioning school, park, and library.
These artists, shoemakers, and fast food industries used derogatory words to influence young minds. And also hyper-sexualized and degraded women: Clark and Giacomantoio, 2015 assesses how music lyrics can play an essential role in a youth’s behavior:
“It helps develop the youth’s beliefs, feelings, attitude, morals, and intentions towards specific subjects.” Who are the subjects? Women and particularly Black women.
You don’t support Artists or companies that use misogynistic and sexual words on women.
You have the freedom to do what you want, for example, buy products and services at your disposal.
But think before you buy it. Our buying power can quash any industry that hyper-sexualized women’s bodies or any music lyrics that support a culture of demeaning women.
“Money is power and Money is earthly god…Jesus is God in Heaven.” — -Grace Ekpenyong
Money is power. How do you contribute to the corporations or groups that shame and stigmatized women with their language? They degrade you, me, our sisters, daughters, mothers, and friends.
“On Feb. 24, 18 out of 25 of Billboard’s top rap songs — most of which are also classified as hip hop — had lyrics referring to women as “bitches,” “hoes,” or “whores.” — -Uzochi P. Nwoko.
You can choose to defund sexist corporations and demand that they change the way they do business.
You don’t only say, but do things. You help yourself and others grow.
“Faith without works is dead.” — James 2:17
Empower yourself and others to see what is not working and take action to fix it. Your words both have creative power and constructive power.
When you have a power like a pastor, a president, a rapper, or a powerful corporation, be constructive and creative with your words.
On a Father’s Day’s sermon, one pastor rolled out statistics on fatherlessness in the Black community. And the pastor refused to explain why there is fatherlessness in the Black community or how he can fix the problem.
Fatherlessness is present in the black community because of systematic racist policies, for example, drug laws and marriage penalties. Many black fathers were sentenced to prison, and the marriage penalties policy drove many black fathers out of their homes in exchange for a welfare check.
The Harvard governance and policy professor, Paul Peterson explains the welfare check policy:
“some programs actively discouraged marriage. Welfare assistance went to mothers so long as no male was boarding in the household…Marriage to an employed male, even one earning minimum wage, placed at risk a mother’s economic well-being.”
And, the US drug law and the media bias swept and rendered many black children fatherless for many decades. Sharon McDaniel summarizes the racist policy and media bias:
“Decades later, the racism I witnessed was further confirmed as I watched and read news stories about the opioid crisis. Illicit drug use and overdose by Whites were met with empathy, compassion, and therapy. Even the words changed: “We fear an epidemic; we address a crisis.” Public response and the resulting policy decisions favored White privilege. I lived through the criminalization of Black and Brown communities. At the same time, the media championed the decriminalization of White neighborhoods in the suburbs and rural areas amid challenges associated with opioid addiction.”
Now, what can we do for the fatherless children? Pastor, rappers, teachers, policymakers, and you can empower young black men and women with what we say and do.
Lottie Joiner interviewed Professor Powell and wrote,
“University of North Carolina associate professor Wizdom Powell emphasized the need for a ‘community of male social fathers.’ Men, she said, who could step in and provide the support boys may need from a male. But men are only part of the solution,’ Powell noted.”
Remember — —
Your words and actions define you. Bless yourself and others with your words. Be creative and constructive with your words. If you do not like something, improve and change it with what you have and where you are. You have the power!
Help yourself grow.