For the past few months my daughter has been embroiled in a cyber war with a group of girls who she used to cheer with. The drama began when my daughter was given an award at the Varsity Cheer Banquet that stated she would be the most likely to "convert the team into ghetto girls..." This probably could have been ignored if these same girls had not spent all season mocking everything that my daughter and the other African American cheerleader said. I ignored the times my daughter came home in tears because she couldn't make them understand that they made her feel different and apart from the group. I thought things would get better.
I have moved my daughter to a new school and explained to her what ignorance really is, yet it continues-as recently as today.
What troubles me the most is that these young ladies are unable to see how hurtful their words are. They actually think it is okay to make the word ghetto synonymous with African American culture and in the past they they haven't seen anything wrong with saying "What's up my niggah?"
It really troubles me that these young women break their necks to "get with" black athletes, but they snub their noses at the beautiful black girls who are these boys' sisters. They ask insulting questions like: "why is your hair like that?" and "you CAN'T be all black!" As if there is only one way for blacks to be.
Perhaps what irks me the most is that there continue to be people in the African American community who find this acceptable. They throw around "my niggah this" and "my niggah that" without understanding that we're nobody's niggers. Have we forgotten how hurtful this word is? What made us forget that black men would have their testicles cut and stuffed down their throats before being tied up to the highest tree? Did they forget the shame that came with being called "niggah bitch" because you were born a Negro female?
What's absolutely ignorant is that people say "well we mean it affectionately when we call each other niggah." There was, is, and never can be anything affectionate about a word filled with so much hate. EVER.
And the word ghetto is NOT synonymous with Black. As a matter of fact, during the Holocaust Jews were rounded up and forced to live in ghettos. So when I see a young Jewish girl talking on her cell phone or doing something else that Jewish teenagers do should I say "That's so Ghetto." I think not.
What's ironic is that my daughter has never lived in the ghetto. My husband and I earned advanced degrees so that we could maximize our earning potential. We chose neighborhoods that were diverse so our children could learn about cultures. As a matter of fact the home we bought when our children were toddlers was a mini-United Nations. We had a Vietnamese family across the street, a white family to the left of us, a Korean family to the right, an Indian family two doors down, and a Middle Eastern Jewish family behind us. It was wonderful to watch the children grow up together and embrace their differences.
I am blessed by the differences of the people who I have met throughout my life. I am thankful for my first gay friend who loved me when I didn't love myself. He thought I was beautiful just the way I was. I am thankful for my friends of different faiths who have taught me that God is bigger than I was taught to believe. I am thankful for my White friends who have shown me that we humans are more alike than different.
I truly feel sorry for these young ladies because they don't seem to have this. At least not yet. And I fear that it may be too late before they realize that words are very, very powerful and that the childhood song "sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt" was absolutely a lie. Words don't hurt. They can destroy.