Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Changing Words

It's so strange the way words referring to certain groups of people keep changing. We used to call people handicapped, which is sort of flattering because the best players in golf get handicaps. But that term, along with the terms "crippled" and "disabled," became considered offensive, so now we say "People with Special Needs"

And racial terms were changed in similar ways.

When calling people "black" became considered insulting the term derived from Latin meaning the same thing was used, but now it's no longer acceptable. (Of course there were derogatory variations of both those words.) Today "African American" is considered the polite terminology, but it offends people with dark skin who don't have African ancestry, such as those from India. And what should we call people who do have African ancestry, but don't live in America?

But there's nothing offensive about calling people "healthy" and nobody objects to calling people "white," even though even albinos have pale pink skin and other "white" people have skin in varying shades of pink and beige. (Of course they're not considered "people of color" by some folks of other races.)

People only get offended by terms if they assume what the words refer to is something to be ashamed of.

It may not be easy to have physical limitations, but there's nothing shameful about being a person who has one. And it's time we got over thinking that belonging to certain races is something to be ashamed of. When we all get over our prejudices then we can stop changing our vocabulary.


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