Op-Ed of the Day: What’s the worst thing someone could call you?

Dwanna L. Robertson has a request for you:

Think of the worst word any person could call you, whether regarding your racial, ethnic, or national heritage, your gender or sexuality, or your religion, or any other identity that you hold dear. Now, imagine hearing that word used daily all around you. Imagine seeing distorted, ugly images of that word everywhere you go. Imagine that you can’t turn on the TV, go shopping, watch movies, or even read a book without hearing or seeing what this terrible word implies because it’s that pervasive in the public discourse. Now imagine people telling you to “get over it” and that you’re being “too sensitive” when you protest its usage.

Robertson says, in an op-ed for Indian Country, that as a member of the Creek tribe, that’s how she feels every day and “it’s more than a social justice issue. It’s very, very personal.”

The column was spotted by assistant producer Meggan Ellingboe:

It’s a fitting commentary given the NFL, Halloween (when costumes cross the line) and Thanksgiving. An educational way to ask people to understand the hurtfulness of certain terms and to put into context what someone may not understand.

So what are the ugly words that Robertson is referring to?

Specifically, I’m referring to these terms: redskins, skins, chief(s), braves, red Indian, injun. More broadly, I’m speaking about terms used in ways that do disservice to different Native Nations: tipi, wigwam, squaw (which means whore or c**t to many tribes), tomahawk, etc. You get the drift. If you research a topic with these words, by all means, use them, but please contextualize the terms.

Many of you may not know how offensive these particular words and others are to Indigenous people. Then again, some just don’t care. Whichever the case, this is an official notice that I consider the term “redskin(s)” a racist term. I’m not calling you a racist just because you use that term. But I am saying if you continue using it after knowing what it means, then you are choosing to consciously participate in the maintenance of white privilege and systemic racism.

We are going to ask Dwanna L. Robertson to join us on the air to talk about her op-ed. You can read the whole thing here.

–Stephanie Curtis, social media host