You might not realize it, but Paula Deen’s troubles and the George Zimmerman trial have one thing in common– Race. The topic of racial slurs has turned out to be very popular on social media. Most people have strong opinions about whether or not they should be used. While these politically loaded words have different meanings to different people– we can agree on something, they’ve opened a discussion of race in our society. We want to warn you that there may be words that some find offensive.
Racial slurs, words that can be used to insult others on the basis of race, ethnicity, or nationality. A term surrounding paula deen who admitted to using racial slurs in the past. And George Zimmerman who is being accused of racially profiling the 17 year old young man he shot and killed last year. Steven Noll part of the university of florida’s history department says that even though these terms have become more common, that doesn’t make them any more acceptable. Noll said, “I think it leads to desensitization. If you hear it so many times it becomes acceptable. I think the key is once again, history matters and the history of those terms are pretty judgmental and negative.”
Using index cards I asked people how they felt about words such as: honky, cracker and the n-word. Bertha Wicks a Gainesville resident views it as a problem. A problem so big it won’t ever come to an end she added. “No i don’t think they’re forgetting the meaning of them i just think they never really did get rid of them. They always continue to use them,” Wicks said.
Joseph Harper another Gainesville resident says the problem will only go away, if people stop using those words. “I think it just perpetrates it. It just encourages it. It makes it socially acceptable and these words should not be socially acceptable,” Harper said.
According to Noll, deen and zimmerman aren’t the only ones battling this issue. Noll says race affects everyone and that most people struggle with their prejudices all the time. “I don’t think we’re moving past that. And history tells us a lot of the baggage that words bring to the table when you speak them,” Noll said.
Only one person i spoke to today, thought the media was blowing these issues out of proportion. According to this young man who couldn’t go on camera, these words are less demeaning because of rap music and their popularity among the younger generation. However Noll says the english language is so rich, people shouldn’t feel forced to use these terms.