“Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones but WORDS will Never Hurt Me”…….#WORDSMATTER!
Words matter! Words, when used as weapons of destruction, can and have enslaved the minds of Black, Brown and poor people throughout history and sadly this White supremacy kryptonite, is still the stronghold in the minds of many. I remember as a child repeating this phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” and then walking off from the perpetrator twisting my waist and turning my neck so aggressively that I almost suffered a neck spasm. This type of bold body movement was to show that what was being said to destroy my self-esteem did not cause harm to how I regarded myself. But! It! Did! I would always return home and think about the words that were hurled at me over and over again until I began to cry and believe the hateful rhetoric. Imagine being called a nigger ( a word used to degrade a human being for having dark skin), a sissy (a word used when a boy seems to be cowardly towards committing violence), or wetback (an insulting and offensive word use against Mexicans that come to the U.S. illegally). Now imagine these terms of disrespect and hate becoming the new normal and used as terms of endearment among people of color. Crazy right? This insane normal use of degrading words literally robs our enslaved ancestors and early civil rights leaders and protestors of the respect and dignity that should be demanded from us all!
The stains of White supremacy are no longer a one-worded kryptonite killer of people of color. Today certain phases that are used as terms of endearment from an unaware White person to a person of color can cause an emotional shivering of unspoken anger. For example phrases such as, “you articulated your answer very well,” “I am not racist I have friends that are Black” and this one “my grand-babies are mixed.” These sentences are now the new Kryptonite killer phases for most people of color. How do I know? Because recently it was brought to my attention that I made another Black person feel uncomfortable by stating that someone else spoke very articulate. This Black person stated to me that when I made that statement her body began to shake in disgust. After this uncomfortable interaction and watching other Black people in the room roll their eyes at me, I began to feel like a White person about to be mobbed. Later that evening I began to recall the unaware embarrassing statement with anger because I knew what I said was to uplift the other individual and not to devalue someone else. Unfortunately, this cycle of White supremacy word trauma to the 21st century Black person is just as effective as it was forty years ago. And apparently White people are not the only ones that are unaware of these kryptonite statements that cause the mind of Black and Brown people to drown with anxiety. My experience that day with this person of color was that of shock, embarrassment and then later anger. Basically, when I was addressed or checked by this person of color for continuing a culture of kryptonite killer statements my emotions were all over the place.
In my opinion, spoken words are the first foundation of our earthly and human creation. It is also the outer voice of our struggles and sentiments. Words when used positively can blossom a beautiful transformation of inspiration. Words that are used to be detrimental to the character of another whether they are knowingly or unknowingly are more dire than bodily cancer. Bodily cancer lives and dies with each individual person but spoken cancer (words) travels from one mouth to the next and continues to live on through hateful people, broken people and unfortunately through those of us who are oblivious to these statements of mental destruction. Words. Do. Matter. Words are like bullets, once released they will not come back. The best way to dismantle the White supremacy kryptonite that has had the power to change its affliction throughout time, is to always be willing to be compassionate, understanding and patient with those who we encounter that are mentally and emotionally impacted. And remember that a person of color can also play an unknowingly role of slave word master.