These words are no longer a part of my vocabulary…

lalah-locs

These are locs not dreadlocks, thank you! (See #4)

Call me p.c. (politically correct) if you want to but there are certain words that I absolutely will not use any longer. (If I ever used them to begin with). Words have power. Words have meaning. As Imam Faheem Shuaibe said in one of his lectures (and I paraphrase of course), words plant the germ of an idea or concept. They’re reflective of a mentality. He argues that we should be very careful about the terms or sayings we adopt because we may be unwittingly adopting the mentality that accompanies the words as well. 

 So, what are those words or phrases?

1) “Pretty hair”, “good hair”, “pretty eyes”, and their equivalent. Like Bob Marley said, I want to emancipate myself from mental slavery. The aforementioned terms are reflective of a slave mentality. I need not launch into the history of how they came about. Just know that I do not believe they should be used when referring exclusively to straight or loosely curled hair or to uncharacterstically light eyes on a Brown Person. 

2) Terrorist. The reasons may be obvious here but I have a problem with this word on so many levels. The main one would be the way that the term has been applied to certain people and not others. Even when the others commit the same kind of acts as the people who are deemed to be terrorists…

3) Mulatto. I admit it. I used to use this term when I was younger but now I know better. Many people who are biracial take offense to it. I heard it was originally derived from the word “mule.” I don’t know but I stay away from it.

4) Dreadlocks. I once had a professor who said, “…cause there’s nothing dread about them!” Back in my ultra Pro-Black days I heard that the term came about when Europeans encountered Africans with locs. They thought locs were dreadful- hence the term dreadlocks. Even if that story is not true I don’t want to imply that  naturally textured African hair is dreadful in any way.

5) Fagot, batty bwoy, chi chi man, funny man, sodomite etc. Unfortunately, I am around quite a few people who continue to use those words even though they know how offensive it is to members of the gay community. The way I see it, if you are not concerned about how other people might feel at least you’d consider how upset you’d be if someone referred to you using a derogatory term. Sidebar: I was stunned when one of my Guyanese friends’ uncle came from Guyana and was referring to Black people as “Negroes.” I admit that I use the term when talking to other Black people from time to time but my neck nearly snapped off when I heard him using it. (He’s East Indian-descent).  

6) Titties. EWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. Is this a curse word? And how old are we anyway, 10? I am surprised by the number of grown people who still say the word when referring to breasts. Upgrade, please!

I can’t think of anymore words right now but if I do I will add to the list. What words are no longer a part of your vocabulary and why?

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21 responses to “These words are no longer a part of my vocabulary…

  1. For me, I stopped saying ‘mixed’ when we referring to someone with one Black and one White parent. Just hit me one day that we’re all mixed so what’s the point?

    But on another subject, WHY you gotta have her picture all BIG and stuff.?

    • I love the large pic so I can see the locs! If it were small I’d be frustrated trying to blow it up. Represent locd sister.

  2. Good list! Okay… so I haven’t officially stopped using the following word. I really need some rehab (celebrity -mel gibson-style) because it’s so not classy.

    *Bitch- usually said after some woman does something to piss me off. I might comment on how if I was a different person I’d knock that b—- out.

    Pretty-as in that girl is soooo pretty. Seems harmless right. My husband offered this word because he says I use it in a way that is toxic like I use it to classify other girls to the exclusion of myself. He says that it works to reaffirm a way of seeing other women as physically attractive while placing myself in the category of the brainy, good personality type because of the way the world typically categorizes women. Hmmm I’ll have to think about this one …

    • OMG. I do the same thing thinking I’m noticing the women he will surely notice and pointing out – she is pretty though – I never thought that I was excluding myself from that category. Now I need to say, she’s in the same club as me. Pretty Women! LOL

  3. Charles, why are you hating on her pic. She’s fly, her locs are fly…a big picture is necessary

    Samira, I try not to call other women that but it seems to rise to the surface…I think they’re really going to revoke my Viva La Feminista card.

    Impress your inner fabulous. I know I have…

  4. Salaams Sis:

    The word “kaafir” … I absolutely want to freak out when I hear Muslims use this word to solely mean anyone who is not a Muslim. It has become a sort of slime word among some Muslims.

  5. Safiyyah, OMG how could I forget that one? I bristle every time I hear Muslims use it. Sadly, it’s very common in my local community. Tell me, how do you treat someone with kindness, out of love for Allah, out of love for humanity and still see them as a kaafir? Yes, there are people who hate and oppose Islam. Kaafir is the right word for them but as you said, calling everyone who is not Muslim kaafir? NO!

  6. lol @ “titties.” I really hate that term, too.

    Speaking of terms for the female body, I only have one word for this: vagina. I don’t use any other words for it. I HATE the term “vajayjay.” Oprah, if you’ve already got half the word out of your mouth, why try and spruce up the other half?! Akh! We’re adults, let’s use the adult word! It drives me insane when I hear adults use other words, especially those really vague terms like, “down there.”

    And I agree with the word “kafir.” I’m tired of that crap!

  7. Aaaaah, the infamous “N” word! I admit i still use it from time to time. I know it’s wrong because i do use it quite negatively, not in the term of endearment sort of way that some folk do. My husband makes me mad, it flies out of my mouth! Horrible, I know. I also want to stop using all swear words in general. We all know what they are so I won’t list them. I guess I kind of have a potty mouth sometimes and it is not cute! This is the same mouth I pray with afterall.

  8. Safiyyah, yes that word is so misused.

  9. UmmMohebyAlIslam

    As salaamu alaikum

    Oh please don’t tell me you are among the people who wish to change the Quran sister? I mean, their is a movement among “modernist Muslims” that want to change the Quran. I don’t know if you heard of them.

    They want to change the words of Allah(swt) because to them they will offend the non-believers. Kaffir isn’t a word that we made up. It’s how Allah(swt) describe the non-believers.

    They have Muslims joining hands with gays, changing the words of the Quran, etc., man, I feel so terrible for us Muslims in what our hearts are going. I mean the most terrible thing in front of Allah(swt) is “joining partners” with him. So, why do you hate the words of Allah(swt)? I mean it’s Allah(swt) who call the non-believers Kaffirs. Do we not believe in Allah(swt)?

    It just makes me ill to see today Muslims doing exactly what the Rand Corporation wanted to implant in the minds of Muslims in America.

    Here is the objective of the Rand Corporation in case you all want to read.
    “In the December 2004 study Rabasa had suggested to exploit Sunni, Shiite and Arab, non-Arab divides to promote the US policy objectives in the Muslim world.

    Here is the full report:http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1716/MR1716.pdf

    I agree about the other things, but changing the words of Allah(swt) is just not acceptable. I know what you are talking about in a way; but we can’t change Allah(swt) words. Even if it makes others un-comfortable or we ourselves don’t like it. I mean, to be honest. Do we always want to walk outside in the summer with hijab? So, apply these same thing. We don’t like somethings, but, it’s from Allah(swt).

    May Allah(swt) keep the Mo’min in the straight path. Ameen!

  10. UmmMohebyAlIslam,

    Walaikum salaam. No one is changing the words of Allah. In the Quran Allah gives people more than two categories. We find that he talks about people of the book (Ahl-ul-kitab), kafireen (disbelievers), mushrikheen (polytheists). When did this idea come in that there only Muslims (apparently who are all believers) and non-Muslims who disbelievers? WRONG. Again, refer to the aforementioned categories.

    Secondly, you need to look at the definition of Kafir. Does it automatically mean a person who is not Muslim? I am not fluent in Arabic so I can’t go and break the word down. However, there are plenty of scholars who say that kafir does not automatically mean non-Muslim and I happen to agree them.

    Lastly, I wonder how you give dawah to people (by example or through speech) if you view them in such a derogatory fashion? How could you be compassionate if you see people that way? What about being positive example as a human being? When we walk around behaving as if people are beneath us (because that is what I believe it does when see people as the kufaar and ourselves as the believers) you miss out on great opportunities. We can learn so much from other people- Muslim or not.

    The very people you refer to as kaafir are my family members, friends and associates. They may not worship in the way that I do but they are not fighting against Muslims or preventing us from practicing this way of life. Sometimes they are more accommodating to us than we have been to them.

    Anyway, that is what I wanted you to think about…

  11. Assalaamualaikum-

    With all due respect sister-no one is talking about changing the words of Allah (swt)-what we are talking about is changing the way people use specific words to elevate themselves over other people or in a way that does not jive with a word’s intended use.

    Typically I find that those who say kafir-this or kafir-that are little in knowledge but large in bravado and mouth.

    I do not find it acceptable to be throwing the word kafir around to describe people of the book (Allah s.w.t’s words also).

    And I don’t think that checking people for some rather rude & insensitive & unhelpful attitudes signals a disbelief in Allah.

  12. @Samah

    yes, this type of two category thinking also produces the halal/haram dichotomy with little acknowledgment/or understanding of the areas in between …

  13. Unforgivableblackness

    Charles, I’m “100%, Zulu, Masai, Mandinka Warrior, my stock run pure”(if u don’t get that, watch School Daze)

    I don’t think I’ll ever stop saying dredlocks,

    Saffiyah and Samah I agree with you both on the indiscriminate use of the word Kafir.
    Here’s a wiki link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kafir

  14. Salaam Alaikum,

    Plus, the fact that the word kafir is a common racist insult in Africa (especially S.A).

    Words are a collection of sounds or letters on a page, but their usage, the intention, that’s what gives them meaning.

    Yes kafir is a legal Islamic term but no one can deny that it has been misused and that’s why so many Muslims (myself included) prefer to avoid using it.

    From the words of Allah swt in the glorious Qur’an, we can see that when He instructed two of the greatest men to ever walk the earth, Musa and Haroon (peace be upon them both) to go and speak to the utterly wicked Pharoah, He instructed them to use the best of speech and be polite.

    What better example do we need in order to treat all humans with respect?

  15. Hey there!

    Thank you for mentioning “mulatto”. I use it often and I will be sure that I only use the term “biracial” from now on.

    I did not know the difference between dredlocks and locs… I thought that dredlocks were created by adding a solution to the hair and locs were not….what do I know? I have chemical hair these days….

    (smiles)
    Lisa

  16. Someone wrote they dislike the usage of the word Bitch. Completely and emphatically agree. My now ex used to call me it when I did something to annoy him and he saw absolutely nothing wrong with it. So one time I gave him a taste of his own medicine. He went into major hissy fit mode and preceded to give me a lengthy lecture on how disrespectful and rude I am and you don’t go calling a man a bitch. I found his indignation to be rather ironic.

    I also agree with the usage of kafir. Everytime I read comments or articles by someone who uses it I can practically envision their spittle flying onto the computer screen as they type.

  17. on the point you made about the word “negro” ive noticed it that in some languages it is used in a non racist kind of way. Talking about countries which have no history of colonization at all, here.

    Also for the word kaffir, there are two things.
    1. people who put adjectives in front of it, not cool…
    2. people who make a us vs them mentality while using it.

  18. Jamerican,

    Alot of people agree with you on the abuse of words such as Kafir which hurts and abuses other people. Many Muslim writers have written extensively about this wrong-doing in our community. Here’s an article, that summarized the compassion and courtesy of Islam for me and how people use the term kafir to refer to anyone that is not like them, the West (whatever it is), non-Muslims and even other Muslims they don’t agree with. Nobody has the right to hurt another human being and to use religion has a justification to hurt other people is extremism.

    Please read this, please.

    http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/on_the_terms_kafir_and_kufr/0016998

  19. Hahaha!!!

    I love it! You are so right. We certainly need to escape from the prison of ideas associated with these words.
    I hate titties. Hate the word. It makes me think of giggling twelve year olds looking at nude pictures. Come on son!
    I like this article.
    I try to stay away from calliing things or behaviors “gay” when suggesting abnormality. Or saying “no homo.” Unfortunately, in America, it seems our brown brothers have completely lost permission to love one another at all. To do so is “gay.” This homphobic society is breeding hatred, not only against gays, but at the “fellow man,” because clearly it is improper to “love” thy fellow man. Its so sad. Fathers who don’t even tell their sons that they love them. little boys taught not to ever cry, then becoming emotionally retarded adults.
    Even toddler boys who can’t play with babydolls, then wonder why, later in life, they can’t relate to their own infant children. It’s a mess.

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