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by Molefi Kete Asante discussing the importance of language and the power of words.
author provides an example of the use of the “N” word and his reaction to it.
In developing a common language around diversity it is important that language be affirming and not about creating blame, guilt or pity.
Historically our challenge with language as it relates to diversity is that it has often been used as a tool of oppression for the express purpose of establishing and perpetuating systems of dominance and hierarchies between and among groups.
This is an excellent resource and reminder of our power.
After a lengthy recruiting effort, executives of a global financial firm couldn't understand why a prized potential hire went to the competition. "I’ve always called religion the stepchild of the diversity and inclusion movement," she said.
This false sense of superiority becomes even more pronounced when these individuals take it upon themselves to define the group without input from that group.
And when it comes to diversity, language can be a bridge for building relationships, or a tool for creating and maintaining divisions across differences.
Having a common language for talking about and across difference is essential for breaking down divisions and working towards achieving understanding and partnership.
It is about treating people with respect and dignity and increasing awareness.
In an article entitled, “Words are potent weapons for all causes, good or bad”, Kathy Lechman, Leader, Diversity Development, Ohio State University Extension, shares examples of some common statements that many of us have repeatedly heard throughout our lives.As a result, language has in many instances throughout our society’s history, served to advance the status of certain groups while relegating other groups to a status of inferiority.