House of Deliberations Ask: Are all slurs equal?

By Staff Writer Seth Tamarkin.

Anytime House of Deliberations has an event, it is a guarantee that hot takes will fly, interesting videos will be shown, and divergent opinions will be shared. On February 26, House of Deliberations kept up this tradition with another event centered around a hotly-contested topic; ‘all racial slurs should be weighed equally.’

The poster for the event featured mugshots of people of many different shades, from White to Asian to Latino, which highlights the variety of slurs that exist in the world. To really set in stone the debate, the poster also included the words “sp*c vs ch*nk vs. n*gga vs. cracker”, a few of the racially charged words that have been thrown at people of various ethnicities throughout the years.

To open the event, hosts Isaiah Christian and Cheneé Quessa, along with moderator Janeya Charpentier, took out a whiteboard with four different quadrants, “strongly agree,” “agree,” “disagree,” and “strongly disagree.” They then gave the premier statement, “all racial slurs should be weighed equally,” and asked each attendee to raise their hand for whichever they agreed with most. Nearly the entire crowd, which contained students born in Africa, Black Americans, Latinos, and a few White people, raised their hands for “strongly disagree.” Thus, the debate was on.

Isaiah Christian leaned towards the “agree” quadrant and tried to see if others would change their view by the end of the event. One question brought up centered on accent and intention, asking the crowd, “Does the way the slur is said change its meaning?” An example of this is saying cracka instead of Cracker or nigga instead of Nigger.

Some students were quick to point out that the phrasing doesn’t matter as much as what ethnicity is saying it. If a white person says the N-word, with the -a or hard –er, it is unacceptable, just as much as a black person calling an Asian person a “chink” is, regardless if they were saying it out of malice.

Another student expounded off that and went into how intent is probably the most important factor. Even a word like “bitch” has both negative and positive connotations depending on who says it to who.

That debate led right into another question posed by the moderators, “can other ethnicities get a ‘pass’ to say a slur if they are friends with people who the slur refers to?” The answer seemed straightforward from the crowd.

One student brought up an instance where her black friend had a white girlfriend, which led to the white girl repeatedly using the n-word. “I looked around and was surprised that I was the only person who was shocked,” she said, referring to when she heard the white girl drop the n-bomb.

Junior Vidalia Lopez pointed out the irony that as a Spanish girl at a predominantly white high school, she became the girl considered “Black.” Therefore, it was up to her to tell her White friends not to use the N-word, despite not being black herself.

That goes to show just how hard it is to regulate language, which was another question that was brought forth by the moderators. To illustrate that, the hosts put up a short video of comedians from around the world talking about racist jokes. The consensus? If you are of the ethnicity you are making fun of, then the joke is fine. The murky waters occur once you branch out and start making jokes at the expense of ethnicities that you yourself don’t belong to.

By the end of the event, it seemed that the video’s definitions about jokes applied to the larger standing of slurs.

Nearly everyone agreed that a racial slur only really holds weight when a different race is saying it.

When the crowd was asked for one last tally about if all racial slurs should be weighed equally, much to his surprise, everyone still held their ground though, saying they “disagree” that all slurs should be weighed equally.

Don’t miss out on the next engrossing debate, which is every other Tuesday at 5:00 PM at the Unity House.

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