What we say and the words we chose to express ourselves make a difference. Do you stand up for something that you feel is not right? Do you speak out to change something that you feel from your heart is hurting others? All of my life I have done this…one example was when I noticed the sign in our local video store/ice cream shop. The sign referred to those lovely sugary things that you ‘sprinkle’ onto your ice cream as ‘jimmies’. Many of you may have heard about the debate of sprinkles vs jimmies. As for myself, I had heard of the debate…some say this just isn’t true and some say that the term is racist and refers to Jim Crow…particularly because of the color of the sprinkles…brown.
Let me be clear, it matters not where the true name came from. Due to the fact that it has been identified as a racist term is enough for me. I choose not to perpetuate it in any manner and politely asked for the term to be changed to sprinkles. The owner heard my words and changed the sign while I was standing there. I asked for it to be changed for many reasons…
When my daughter was an infant…and on the fast track to becoming a toddler, she was very into baby dolls. During that time, there was a commercial on television that advertised this ‘fabulous’ baby doll with all kinds of amenities. At the end of the commercial it asks for you to specify if you would like ‘dark’ or ‘light’…I lost it…it annoyed me beyond reason and I ended up phoning the company. ‘dark’ or ‘light’? Are you kidding me? Really? You see, I am the proud cream Mama of three coffee milk brown babies and I am a little sensitive…I am also human and I was offended and concerned for the message these words were sending…for how they might embed themselves into my childs’ perception of herself. ‘What does that mean?’ I vehemently asked the person who answered. Needless to say, that person did nothing to hear my concerns and to this day I remain annoyed just thinking about it. There have been many other times since then that I have spoken up about a situation that I felt strongly about. (another time…another blog post)
Anyone remember the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me…!’ (to be followed with the sticking out of one’s tongue and hands on hips!) I have come to learn in my life how untrue this is. Words are VERY powerful and I choose to be aware of what I am saying and how it may affect others. At the end of the day, even if the whole debate about sprinkles vs jimmies is falsely pursued, the point remains that there are people that believe that it is a racist way to refer to the confection. If a word is hurtful then I choose not to use it. This is the same reason that I choose not to say or tolerate other racist terms, sayings or inferences. I make it a point to ask questions in situations in order to educate others as well as myself. I seek to understand why things are said and seek to help others realize the power of what they are saying…I find there are three general categories that I encounter:
1. People who intentionally say what they want regardless of who it hurts 2. People who say things without really thinking about the power of their words and 3. People who care whether or not they are hurting others with words and choose instead to encourage and build up out of kindness.
I will tell you now that I will do whatever I can to be in the third category…that’s just who I am.
In my family, we refer to people as brown and cream…not black and white. My husband is not black…his skin is a beautifully bold deep chocolate gingery hue. I am not white…a piece of copy paper is white…snow is white (except when it is peed on)…get my point? I am cream. Clearly my daughter is able to see through this lens. Please take a moment to read the poem that I posted in an earlier post here.
Take a moment today to widen your lens around words you use and those you hear others using. Words are powerful!
Please take a moment to check out my poll…