Tag Archives: segregation

So … (my rant of the week)

31 May

So …

My rant of the week.

By L. Stewart Marsden

I had a conversation with my middle-aged daughter the other day. She’s not middle-aged as in her forties or fifties. She is the middle of three daughters. Almost the middle of five, but not. She’s a teen, mere days away from “qualifying” to drive by reaching her sixteenth birthday.

I argued that vocabulary these days has become quite complex. In fact, that groups of people consciously use words and phrases to delineate and segregate themselves from others.

Some of the words and phrases my daughter uses require my asking “What did you mean by that?”

Okay, it’s true when I was in high school there were words and phrases probably alien to my parents and their generation. But they were pretty hokey — CoolPadMan. And more I guess. Pretty lame stuff compared with today’s hot word meanings and phrases.

But I digress.

Ever hear of the language abbee-dabbee? Like Pig Latin, it is a simple insertion of ab after each consonant of a word and the remaining letters. So if I want to say, “Have a nice day,” I’d say

“Hab-av-ab-e  ab-a  nab-ice dab-ay.”

Those practiced at it can rattle on and on in the midst of others — even say some fairly nasty things about people right there — and not be understood.

My daughters and Ex do this. They may as well break out into French or German as far as my ability to understand them when they do.

It’s a bit more than irksome. It separates me from those who are “in the know,” and becomes a way to segregate the ins from the outs. 

Today the practice is used by many. Some of the words and phrases are the fault of technology and social networking. My kids use abbreviations like LMAO in their speech. I’m always running to catch up on the trends so I’m not taken unawares, but it’s a losing battle.

Then there are the irksome practices.

So when did “so” become the must-use first word of each sentence?

It’s very much like the old Valley Girl speak. It isn’t a big thing. I take that back. It is a big thing. To me. It’s why I wrote this little comment.

I’m going to don my parental persona right now (some of you will understand that small bit of information … I’m hoping at least the parents will) —

Just like how you dress, how you talk speaks to others about the kind of person you are. If you are conscious about correct word usage and grammar, it says to others, “I am a well-versed and educated person to whom you should pay attention and heed what is said.” Or not, if you choose to embrace poor grammar and use words incorrectly. I’ll let you decide what the “or not” conjures up.

While street speak and techno-babble and social media syntax separate the user from others, the usage identifies the user with groups that are maybe not so admirable.

Meanwhile, correct word usage and grammar also separate the user from others. It identifies you with a group of people who has an entirely different image. Educated. Intelligent. Able. Promising. Motivated. These and other descriptors come to mind. This group seems to be on the wane. It’s getting smaller and smaller and is less prevalent and even less approved.

It doesn’t mean you can’t slip into other forms of communication. Of course you can. When it benefits you and your audience. When you are trying to be heard and understood. Or, conversely, when you want to alienate yourself from those close about. There’s even a place for abbe-dabbe. But the overriding hope of this writer is that some of you reading this, who practice the undisciplined way of communicating, will reconsider putting effort into learning and using a higher level of speech. Remember what your mother and father probably said more than once — just because you could doesn’t mean you should. 

So, I’m just sayin’ …

As much as these trendy ways of communicating help you to blend in, don’t forget to nurture and develop correct word usage and grammar as well that might help you stand out — in a good way.

The trendy stuff will eventually go away. I hope.

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 31 May, 2015

Ah! No matter how things change . . .

12 May

 

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Ah! No matter how things change . . .

By L. Stewart Marsden

Dophins’defensive back Don Jones joins an ever-growing list of spotlighted celebrities and notables to be scorched in the headlines as a result of non-politically correct comments. Some made publicly, or through social media, or that were revealed as private comments.

I won’t rehash the headlines. Jones’ tweet about the recently, self-announced gay NFL football recruit Michael Sam, or Charles Barkley’s recent slur on the women of San Antonio, or Donald Sterling’s covertly taped and then released racist remarks, or Paula Dean’s admission of using the n-word, or Mel Gibson’s or Alec Baldwin’s biased remarks.

I could go further, and dredge up more muck as a result of the internet and its incredible capacity to never forget.

America. Land of the free, and home of the brave.

Yet, from its very inception, corrupted to the core with anti-somebody sentiments. The Irish, the Polish, the Germans, the Italians, the French, the Russians, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Mexicans, the Hispanics, the blacks, the LGBTs, the Catholics, the Muslims, the Jews, the Yankees, the whoever-you-want-to-plug-in-after-the-next-comma group.

We have integrated and bussed and everything else we have thought of doing to eradicate and eliminate racial, gender, religious, political, economic and sexual preference biases.

Where do we go for teaching and examples? To find out how to COEXIST? The ideals are fine. The pathway is not-so-fine.

I took a course in college on racism. I found out, according to the instructor, that if I was white, I was a racist.

That may be true. I grew up in the south in the 50s and 60s. In my hometown I remember seeing bathrooms and water fountains For Whites Only, or for Coloreds. The movie houses were similarly segregated, and blacks found their way up to an uppermost and very small balcony. I never knew where they went to buy a ticket.

The schools were also segregated. I never shared a classroom with a person of another color until junior high school. Never played on a sports team with anyone other than whites, again until junior high.

That person was as fascinated with me as I was with him — especially in the locker room. It was the basketball team. The irony was that he wasn’t very good at basketball. See? That’s a racist thought in and of itself.

My favorite comedian was Bill Cosby. Notice I didn’t say my favorite black comedian, but my favorite comedian, period.

I learned all of his routines. I watched Cosby Kids on Saturdays religiously, and laughed at Fat Albert along with all children who watched.

I watched as Cosby broke the stereotypical image of blacks (to whites) by portraying Dr. Huxtable, with a lawyer wife and intelligent kids.

Nobody said, are you paying attention to this? Do you know the significance of this? Nobody told me I must adapt my expectations, or my perceptions.

They just changed. Or, maybe they didn’t change as much as they grew and matured.

It is natural to grow into something you were not at the beginning.

So, my instructor said I was a racist.

To her racism must be something like a tattoo that cannot be undone without painful and abrasive treatments.

Yet, the roots of racism are deep, apparently. And they exists in all peoples. Like a weed in the driveway that you douse with Weed-B-Gone. Inevitably, it rears its ugly head again.

Did I ever tell and laugh at racist jokes? Yes. Do I tell and find them funny now? No.

Again, where do we look for guidance and examples? Washington? Uh, don’t think so.

The pulpits across America? Judging from the lack of mixed congregations, again, probably not.

Schools? As idealistic as they want to be, again, no. Not now, at least. There are those feeble attempts to educate, as in the classic classroom prejudice experiment based on the color of students’ eyes. Not enough.

The novel Black Like Me was an innovative attempt by a white man to walk a mile in the shoes of the black community.

But it wasn’t a bible of reform initiative. Its effects were kind of like the effect of a BB gun against a Patton tank.

I won’t lie. I don’t have shoulders strong or broad enough to shoulder the mistakes and sins white people have promulgated on various groups of people, including blacks. We have, by the way, been an equal-opportunity discriminator of groups for centuries.

I am more conscious of that tendency to discriminate, though. And where I’m not, my children let me know.

So when whoever it is spouts off angrily, or in a fury, and says something that is picked up on Twitter or Facebook or whatever media is trending the information, my reaction is one of disappointment, but not so much surprise. As a society, we have not yet earned the reaction of surprise.

I think what is scarier than a Baldwin or a Barkley misstep (even though Mr. Charles Barkley has said he will never apologize — Hillary? Where is your reaction to that?), are the thousands or more who make similar statements not in anger or in fury.

And those people are in every group, every race, every religion. Everywhere.

Bottom line: I know I’m no saint regarding bigotry or racism. It’s there. I work at it. But, sometimes . . .

This media display of individual insensitivity will continue. Count on it. But resist the urge to pile on. Remember the adage: when you finger point at someone, you’ve got three pointing back at you.

And remember what that guy said: Let the person who hasn’t sinned throw the first stone.

 

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Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 12 May, 2014