Our words impact our readers, so it’s important that we choose them with care.
Everyone is aware that there are some words that should never be said, especially by white people. I’m sure a few words or phrases immediately came to mind that are racist, dehumanizing, and harmful.
But there are other words and phrases that are just as racist and harmful that are used in people’s everday lexicons. Words like tribe and spirit animal and savage. Writer Simon Moya-Smith wrote an article about many problematic word usages and ways to support, not appropriate from, native people.
Yes, language evolves. As I wrote about in part one of this series, word meanings can change over time based on usage. But words, such as spirit animal, which is part of a spiritual tradition for some indigenous people, have been appropriated from people who were forced by law to stop openly practicing their spiritual traditions.
Using spirit animal as pop culture slang is not okay. We, as creative people, can do better with our writing and word choice.
Same goes for the ways we describe people of color. Repeatedly, writers have relied on comparisons to food to describe skin tone. This is offensive for many reasons. This article, written by Mod Colette on the Writing With Color blog, explains why.
Choose your words with care.
Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash