Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

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Words, you see, do hurt

Many of us write; all of us read. And we know words do have power because they can shape the way we perceive something or someone, they can change our moods in moments and they can cause damage that is almost impossible to repair.

This is why in Judaism, we are supposed to guard our tongues, we are supposed to not talk about other people or listen to gossip, or believe it when we hear it - because evil tongues can do plenty of hurt.

Yesterday, I was on the bus with this young family - Mommy, Daddy, two older kids and one baby. The kids were excited, the little boy was wet from a fountain (and rather proud of it), but they behaved well - they weren't quiet, but they weren't *loud*, and they stayed where they were told without arguments or whining. When a seat became available, Daddy sat down and cuddled his son, even though he was wet. And at one very charming point, the two older kids sang for the baby, who smiled and kicked and gurgled at that. It was just wonderful. Far too often on public transport, kids are NOT like that, and parents are just as loud telling them to behave. And this applies to all racial groups equally. As it happens, this family was African-American.

They were making everyone around them smile.

About two stops from their own, an old lady came on the bus, leaning heavily on her cane. The father not only stood up, but he carefully handed her into his seat, demonstrating very nicely what a gentleman does to his son. Two stops later, they gathered stroller and baby and kids and got off. And the old lady turns to me and says, in a voice full of vitriol, "Your taxes pay for them! All that welfare goes to them."

I was shocked into speechlessness. There was no sign this family was on any sort of assistance and no reason to assume they were other than their skin color. Her hatefilled speech would have been bad under any circumstances but that it was about people who'd treated her with kindness made it even worse. I knew nothing I would say could change her mind and I didn't want to get into a fight on the bus (and then a friend of mine got on and proceded to drag me to an Instant Theater thing at the local library), so I just said nothing. But her words almost poisoned a lovely experience.

This brings me to the events last night, with that experience fresh in my mind. I first heard of zvi_likes_tv's protest from someone who disagreed with it. Which means I spent a lot of time arguing with that person. Because the word "miscegenation" hit me hard - it's such a thankfully old-fashioned term, but it carries such an freight of discrimination and death, and I still can't understand how anyone could not react that way. And when I read what Zvi actually said and protested about, it was even worse - she wanted to change a label. She didn't say a word about the content. And to see bestiality conflated with it...oh, my goodness.

I don't understand how people at this point in our history could think such things are acceptable, or that protesting such things are censorship.

liviapenn has compiled a list of posts about this here.
Tags: discrimination, prejudice, words

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