The nursery rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” has been recited since the late 1800’s. Linguistically it’s true; realistically, it isn’t. Words, particularly ones of indignation “stick” with you long after the striking of a physical “stick.”
Recently, there have been words of degradation whose reprehensible sounds reverberated long after their reiteration from the speaker’s vocal cords. In recent months, the N word has been alive and well. First, it rolled off Paula Deen’s tongue. Cliven Bundy spoke negatively of the Negro and subsidized housing; while Donald Sterling threw in his racial epithets about not bringing Black folks into his Clippers’ House. Now, BBC television host of the Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson poetically recited the cute nursery rhyme of old though he replaced the word – tiger – with a debased derivative. His version was a besmirched “eeny, meany, miny, moe, catch a N***** by his toe.” Retrospectively, I witnessed the burning of crosses and our churches growing up in Mississippi. Thus, it is not desirous to experience a display of continuous racist emotional torching. After my girlfriend was called a N***** last week, I shuddered, but realized that – if we think it, we will say it! Until we work on a cleansing of our internal consciousness, external hurtful words and actions will seep out of our human exhaust. The small tongue is treacherous! The book of Proverbs says, “reckless words pierce like a sword.” Racist words are beyond piercing! They cut into our core where hurt penetrate deeply into our soul!
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