Use Your Words

useyourwords Friend, foe, man, homie, ex, lover, and pronouns are all words that can just as easily be used to describe the person in question. There are a myriad of words that can be used to address or describe a person.  So why promulgate a word with such a negative history.  No matter how you try and skin the cat, it’s still a cat.

You often hear parents scold their youth when they whine or fail to accurately articulate their wants or needs, using the phrase “Use your words”.  That is what words are for, to help us communicate the thoughts in our minds. So we use our words to translate those thoughts into intelligible phrases that can be understood by others.

This post has been in my mind for years. If you know me personally, then you know how I loathe the “N” word.  Let’s be clear. I’m referring to the word “Nigga” or “Nigger” or any variant of the word.  I don’t even use the word when reciting lyrics that are littered with the word.

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How can we continually expect others to refrain from using a word that is so heavily embedded in our own vocabularies.  I hear the “N” word far to regularly, from friends and family.  Incessantly I’ll ask the individual or individuals to refrain from using it.   It bothers me.

I’ve been ‘affectionately’ called the “N” word. But let’s be clear about something else. I am not now, nor have I ever been a nigga or anybody’s nigga.  So I will not allow you to call me or refer to me as such.

I have a friend who must have the “N” word as his most frequently used word. And I’ve questioned him on why he chooses to use that word so often.   Although I know he does not have any children, I’ve asked, “Would you call your daughter or mother a Nigga?”  His response was, “Yea, I call my nieces that”.  All I could do at that point was shake my head, as we have had several conversations about the “N-word” in length.

If you can’t comfortably use a word in the presence of your parents, your youthful children, the president of the United States, your boss, a mixed crowd, or any group of people for that matter, perhaps you shouldn’t use it.  It just shouldn’t be in your vocabulary, and especially not in heavy rotation.

Some argue that the word should just be removed altogether, and I agree with that to some degree. But you can’t completely remove a word from any language.  Just as you can’t remove the history of those who fought so hard for our freedoms and equality that were challenged each time that nefarious word was used. Especially not this word, with such a complex history. But just as you will seldom hear a gay man call another gay man a “faggot”, it’s just as absurd to me for a black person to call another black person a “nigga”.

It’s disrespectful!  By eliminating or reducing its use we begin moving towards the right direction, and hopefully those of African descent will be closer to being regarded equally in our global society.  We disrespect and harm our own kind at a disproportionate rate compared to any other group.  So how can we expect everyone else to respect us if we blatantly disrespect ourselves and our ancestors.

I promise you that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would never utter the word Nigga to greet a friend, or refer to anyone. And if he was alive today he would be disheartened by the prevalence of the word.

The word Nigger was used very negatively in the past to defame, devalue, and define a group of people simple based on the color of their skin.  Just because one has a certain level of natural melanin in their skin, they were angrily called a Nigger.  In the same token, they were beat, raped, killed, falsely accused, unjustly targeted and in many cases this is still continuing today.

So many people have become desensitized by the words’ usage. You can hear it on a daily basis if you listen to the radio, watch television or movies or have casual interactions with people.  Which in my opinion is also part of the problem.  As a black woman, I know the history of the word Nigga or Nigger, it’s affected my parents and grandparents and their parents in a negative way. So I know the history associated with it and it is very negative.  I know it because in a sense I’ve lived it.

Especially when I hear stories from my grandparents about using a “whites only” water fountain or movie theater section.  I can sense the pain emoted from this era and its biased societal norms.

If I was Jewish I’m sure the sensitivities associated with Germany during the Holocaust, or concentration camps or genocide of my people would be a sore subject.  Particularly if a word once used derogatorily to describe my people was rebranded and used matter-of-factly to address or describe those same people but more importantly used by those same people.  This concept as it is applied to another group of people, in this case those who follow Judaism, is so foreign to me that it is hard to compare and associate it in a fashion similar to blacks and the “N” word.

But you’d be hard pressed to find another group of people who have adapted a negative word into their daily vocabulary to describe themselves.

I’ve posed this question to two black men “How would you feel if you heard a white man use the N word?” One told me he wouldn’t like it, and the other said he wouldn’t really care. I would personally rather that nobody used it regardless of their skin color. If a white or non-black person sings along with the word in a song, although it may have no malicious intent, subconsciously it gives them permission and condones the use of the word. They become comfortable with the word and sometimes have no concept of what the word means to a lot of black Americans. To quote Piers Morgan, “Teach the youth of today the N-word is so heinous that even to repeat it ironically is to perpetuate its poison.”

If we want society/Americans/non-blacks to appreciate us, to recognize us as successful, contributing members of society and not nuisances, or terrorists, or animals, we must stop using a word that embodies those exact sentiments.

In the end, the mainstream use of the N-word is something that may be debated for years to come. But my hope is that it is replaced with something non-controversial or as previously stated a pronoun or specific word that denotes the intended meaning.

If you have to debate over whether or not to use a word in hopes of not offending someone or some group of people, err on the side of caution and refrain from using it at all or USE YOUR WORDS to describe or explain the message you are trying to convey.

 

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My Walls Ain’t Like Grandma’s

Daily Prompt: Wall to Wall

From April 26, 2013

What do you display on the walls of your home — photos, posters, artwork, nothing? How do you choose what to display?

Your personal space says a lot about who you are. From how neat you keep your areas to how you choose to decorate. From minimalist to maxamalist (if that is even a word) what dons your walls can be an extension of you and your personality.

I’ve been into decorating on some level since I was a child. I remember shopping for furniture and choosing carpet with my mom as a child. My first introduction to my own design style was in college. It was so much fun deciding the decor for my dorm room with my roommate each summer before the start of the new school year. I remember doing this with my roommates for my freshman and sophomore years in college. But for my last two years of school I had single room and had a lot more liberties to decorate and coordinate my living space without the consideration for another individual. That’s when the fun really began.

I had so much fun picking out fun lights, comforters, matching desk accessories. And IKEA got a lot of my money those years.

Fast forward to the purchase of my first house, and that was the most fun ever. I had so much space to fill and so many ideas to actualize it was almost overwhelming, but in a great way. The first room I tackled was the living room. It’s the place that most people congregate when they visit you. It’s usually the first room you enter upon arriving home.

I’ll save my whole design esthetic of my house for another time, but I will say that after two years I felt that my living room was pretty complete.

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Well one day my grandmother made a comment to my mother that I lacked photographs of her and others in my house. The truth is I didn’t have many photos displayed in my house. The reason is that I like my photos to be displayed artistically. A lot of times you go into someone’s house and you see their entire family tree dating back to as long as there were cameras around.

With today’s technology of camera phones with filters and digital cameras with specialty lens. There is no reason to have multicolored and multi size photos and picture frames on mantles and walls.

I envision color coordinated frames filled with carefully selected shots of my loved ones and displayed artistically. A design and decor that catches your eye even before you can identify the people in the photo.

On the left side of the collage you can see a well thought out design to display beloved family photographs. On the right side you can see my grandma’s mantle and living room wall. The photos are displayed in random order without much thought to the display spacing, frame shape or color. Although love my granny, that is not what I want to see on display in my home.

With that said until I can find the right shots of all the people who mean enough to me to be showcased around my house. I’ve decided to go completely digital. I purchased a digital picture frame from HHgregg and downloaded all the people I love, to a memory card. Now I can proudly display everyone I want without hurt feelings or the clutter of photos everywhere.

 

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Why I Write, Why I Blog

hand writingI’ve always been an avid reader since I was a kid. Along with reading came writing. I remember writing a lot as a teenager, poetry, novels or whatever was on my mind at the time. One of the reasons I decided to start a blog was because as I’ve gotten older I’ve lost the passion I used to have for writing and want to get back to that.

I Can Backspace, Delete, Re-Phrase, or Re-Write

Writing for me, is the easiest way for me to express myself. I’ve always been better at writing in a foreign languages than in speaking them. And by better I mean more accurate in verb conjugation and proper tense. Much of that is probably due to the fact that I have more time to formulate my thoughts. I can backspace, delete, re-phrase, rewrite before it’s seen by anyone else. And that in itself is really comforting.

Talking aloud or to anyone else, for me isn’t difficult but I find that my mind wanders and I’m already on the next thought before I finish speaking the previous. Additionally, I  have a real need for speed, so I’m always walking fast, driving fast, eating fast, and talking fast. So they’ll be times when I know in theory what I want to say but can’t formulate my thoughts into, intelligible verbal words. So I write.

I write. At least that’s my goal. To get back to doing the things I used to find so much love in doing. I used to perform spoken word and do talent shows. That kid, that teenager, that young adult…that’s where I want to get back to. Only with the maturity and knowledge that I now possess.

Writing is therapeutic. Especially, when I go back and look at older journal entries or poems I wrote years ago. The growth I see in myself– or NOT sometimes. It’s like looking in the mirror and seeing the exact things you need to change or work on. Like a highlighter in a book on text you don’t want to forget.  You start seeing recurring themes. And hopefully, eventually, you change and grow and prevent repeat offenses.

So here I am writing and blogging and bettering myself through these words…my thoughts on paper and on this screen.  And so for all these reasons, I’ll continue to write and to blog.

-Justice

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Daily Prompt: A List of the Top Things I Miss Most About Philly

I do love lists. I get great satisfaction and sense of accomplishment by checking things off a list I created.

What I miss most about Philadelphia:

The food overall, but specifically.

1. Lorenzo and Sons

Lorenzo and Sons Pizza. It’s my favorite. They’re located on South Street and they have gigantic slices and they only sell them without toppings.  But don’t worry about their bottomline beacuse their following is cult-like. You know better than to ask for toppings on your slices, there is nowhere to sit and eat your pizza, and if you want a box for your slices, it’ll cost you. Lorenzo and Son’s suffered a tragic fire last year in the summer of 2012 and has remained closed while undergoing repairs etc. It is set to re-open soon, which is exciting. Maybe they’ll have more space for seating, and ventilation/air conditioning.

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2. Philly Cheesesteaks


Philly Cheesesteaks. You can argue for weeks on who has the best Philly cheesesteaks in the city. If you ask any non-Philiadelphian they’ll probably say Pats or Geno’s but most who live outside of South Philadlephia will agree that Pats and Geno’s are tourists attractions.

I have my favorite spots to get an authentic Philly cheesesteak, but honestly you can go to practically any neigbor”hood” in Philly and get a decent one. I find that people tend to measure or judge the quality and taste of Philly cheesesteaks based on their local neighborhood spots. But I’ve done my own unofficial taste testing of several popular spots around town and the popular places in my humble opinion, aren’t always the better tasting. If I get a chance I would love to do a more in-depth review of the top 10-20 places and find my absolute favorite.  I know that sounds really fat right! I don’t even eat a lot of red meat to begin with but I’d make an exception for this awesome cause. FYI, I love my cheesesteak with extra mayo, extra ketchup, fried onions, and sometimes a little mustard.

3. South Street

South Street is a popular strip in South Philadelphia. It’s where I used to go to shop, eat, people watch, be seen, and just hang out with friends. It used to be a great place to meet people, and an even awesome(er) place to see the sights. And by sights I mean the crazy people, with outrageous hair, crazy clothes, over affectionate lovers and more.

As I’ve gotten older, I tend to go to South Street to get what I need and keep it moving. Maybe I’m just over it, but I still miss what it represents and for me it’s always worth a trip down the slow moving stretch to get my beloved Lorenzo pizza.

4. Food Convenience 

Another thing is the conveince of obtaining food. Maybe it’s because I lived in the city but I can’t think of too many locations in the Philadelphia area that don’t have the same conveince of a vareiety of nearby food options. I don’t just mean McDonald’s or Chinese Stores but corner stores. Corner stores, bodegas, chinese stores, Pizza/Hoagie/Cheesesteak shops, in Philadelphia you could find one or several of the above within 2-walking blocks from your house.

5. Mister Softee

Man, as a kid Mister Softee would come around twice a day. Once in the afternoon and again in the evening. Mister Softee is a chain of Ice Cream Trucks famous mostly in Northeast America. Hearing Mister Softee’s tune play blocks away was a signal to most kids to find enough cash to get your favorite Mister Softee product in enough time that you could catch him before he was off to the next block. Or even better go find him, by following the tune. It’s all so nostalgic and in the DMV, Mister Softee is non-exisistant. I feel bad for the children here, that they won’t get to have the same child memories of ice cream, sticky hands, friends and fun. Thats what I think of when I think of Mister Softee. I sure wish a franchise would come this way. If I didn’t love my career I would seriously consider opening a Mister Softee Franchise here.

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I started to add the “Greek Picnic” but I think I’ll do a separate post about it.

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