Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dirty Words

A great guest post from the wonderful Gale Mullings. Read her blog here: (link)

Shared experience has been the factor missing from the universal language of math or currency. Words, as much as math or currency, are meaningless without a proper contextual framework. The last child and first born American to Jamaican parents taught me this lesson early in life. I can still hear my mother asserting, “You’re so damn American!” when my behavior caused her aggravation. I had no idea what this meant but, given her tone, knew it was not favorable.

Our experiences, more so than what we learn in school, shape who we are and I dare say for many of us, growth becomes a process of unlearning. My father told me a story once of a chance encounter he had with a white man who was also educated under the English system. Fondly reminiscing, my father asked the man, “You remember all the nursery rhymes they made us memorize?”; only to be halted by the man’s apparent confusion. In that single moment, my father realized he had been purposely taught foolishness to keep him ignorant, igniting anger at his miseducators.

I excelled in academia with one major shortcoming. I hated history. I managed to get fairly good grades in this subject despite my disdain; which I now attribute to a remarkable mental gag reflex of sorts. With a limited ability to retain bullshit, I managed to regurgitate just enough to pass the exams without internalizing the brainwashing nonsense I was being taught, such as “slavery was an attempt to civilize Africans.”

A question mark is the most powerful punctuation yet so many people fail to utilize it. To the detriment of humanity, the masses continue to recite the nursery rhymes they were taught as children and remix bedtime stories to spoon feed their children. Instead of Jack and Jill, my generation learned Die Commie Die! Communist, I was taught, was a dirtier word than fuck. I wondered why communism was bad and without the proper contextual framework ironically equated the term with “so damn American”, since they seemed to have the same tone.

Today, socialism is the new dirty word. Conservatives have used this word in an attempt to discredit President Obama and terrorize Americans into saving the nation. From what, may I ask? Wikipedia defines socialism “ various theories of economic organization advocating public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with an egalitarian method of compensation.” Does that then mean we are fighting against equality?

If so that means in addition to being the other dirty word, liberal, I am also a socialist. By trade, I am a social worker and I have often thought the economic system lacked a sense of balance. From the onset of the economy’s nosedive, I have said what if we the (little) people just stopped? What if we said: “You know this just really isn’t working for me? Let me make it a little more tangible. Take any major corporation, Microsoft for example. Bill Gates is a world renowned billionaire. Some would argue that he deserves to be one of the world’s wealthiest people for his intelligence, innovation and hard work. True indeed but could the machine keep running without all levels of the operation? I wonder how much the lower level employees, whom most likely far outnumber the upper echelon, earn? What would happen to this capital generating operation if the middle and lower levels quit? Could the upper echelon of the company do it all by themselves? If the answer is no, then doesn’t it stand to reason that the proceeds should have a more equitable distribution?

I saw a comedian who joked that white racists are not bothered by the fact political correctness dictates they can no longer say the N-word because they are creative enough to come up with a new code. He related a story in which he heard a white person refer to blacks as “Mondays”. Being well versed in racist vernacular, he was surprised to admit he couldn’t figure that one out and asked for the context. The man replied, “You know, everyone hates Mondays.”

So as I hear the term socialist being aimed at President Obama, America’s first black president, I can’t help but wonder if this is the new code to replace the old dirty N-word and maintain the ever-so-slowly diminishing voice of the so damn American people who have the incredible ability to retain bullshit.


  1. Such an insightful post! I wish I had something profound to say, but, I'd rather just marinate on your words.

  2. Gale is great isn't see? Thanks for commenting. I will pass on your kind words.

  3. You seem to be raising the bar for us, as a writer and as a human being.

    Great post.

  4. It still amazes me that racism is so prominent in the world in this day. It saddens me that people as a whole cannot seem to cross this barrier, just change the insult. Great post, Gail, thank you :o)

  5. That's definitely some food for thought. I really liked the analogy of Microsoft. I have been a socialist for several years, and that argument has honestly never occurred to me.

    And yes, we are fighting against equality. Nobody wants to be equal, we want to be superior. Feminism isn't about equality. Most feminists thing they're superior to men. Rich people don't want equality, because they like the fact that they can buy things the rest of us can't, world leaders don't want equality because they like having power over us. There is a fight against equality, and unfortunately it'll never end for the very reason that we cannot get enough of anything. Take those same workers at Microsoft on the lower echelon and give them a massive raise. Hell, let's give 'em Bill's salary. Every employee is now a multi-billionaire. I guarantee you it wouldn't end there. Those employees would sit back and think, "He can't run this place without us. THis business would collapse if we weren't here. We should be making more than Gates." And it would continue in this fashion with just about any scenario you can think of.

    Okay, I think I just posted my own blog here. I'm gonna shut up now.

  6. Thank you for your comments...

    LoudPen, To leave you speechless means I must have said something. Thank you.

    Joseph, Thanks for the invite and allowing my voice to be heard, unfiltered.

    TheWritersDen, Thank you for recommending me and your continued support and encouragement. I truly appreciate it.

    Valerie, The irony is that the people who fight the hardest often have no idea what they are fighting about. That's the danger of continually passing down foolishness.

    Joseph Mulak, Please don't shut up. You gave me some food for thought. I suppose the eternal optimist in me hopes that those who can empathisize with oppression, if given a chance at equality, would not in turn cause the same imbalance. However, human nature is egotistical.


  7. Thank you Gale. When I started this blog a few weeks ago I dreamed that it would become a place where people could rant at the world's ills. Your wonderful post on name calling and racism, and the comments that have come as a result of it, are exactly what I had in mind. Yay, I say, YAY!

    Oh and it looks like Mr. Jimmy Carter agrees with you Gale. Don't look now but the right whangers are attacking the former president as I type.

    Thats it for now. Gale you are always welcome to post in the NAD. Thanks everyone else for reading and commenting. Now, I need more coffee, in the hope that it might help in the quest for a topic du jour.

  8. I had this discussion with my children the other day about what you said here: "Our experiences, more so than what we learn in school, shape who we are and I dare say for many of us, growth becomes a process of unlearning."

    It's interesting that with all the recent name calling and labeling that is going I am reminded of such childish things. I hold no political affiliation so I can't comment on the political aspect but I do believe that just as if by rote we have been taught thinking and ideas that have become outdated and inconsistent. Somebody tells us well this is a good or bad thing and we are taught to accept it as is.

    That's why like you said the question mark is the most powerful punctuation. We need to question even the very foundation of what we believe and come up with our own thinking and then voice our feelings. That's the only way we will experience progress and not be stifled as people.

  9. Toya, Thanks for your comment. I don't hold any true political affiliation but I know that my ideologies get me lumped into a particular group. We do need to question what we believe. So many people are passionate about things they really don't understand. The current state of affairs is a sad commentary on the level of ignorance.

  10. I swear you put to word what my mind and heart believe Thank you for doing so

    The last time I checked... Canada is a Social Democracy and we have a mad man at the helm that is trying to undermine those to very words 'Closed Door Meetings, Electing yes men and telling your party they don't have voice to object' Is not what I call democratic but enough of my rant...it's hard for me to stop but the trains brakes worked this time

    Last year I was having a debate on another forum with 'wall street stock broker' I said that the rich and big companies absolutely depend on there being other classes.. Of course he disagree and basically stripped everyone of their humanity calling those that are not rich 'insignificant economic units'

    When I brought up the fact about who works in the factories and offices and who does the bulk of purchasing products and services He stuck to his unrealistic hype guns

    It was strange and nauseating to debate with someone so devoid of reality and whose ignorance and arrogance Pretty much said it all this man was a trained gerbil

    Since it was a week before the official declaration of the recession when I had this debate. I wonder where he is today and if hevhas joined the ranks of 'insignificant economic units'

    You rock Joseph! Keep on going

  11. Thank you Jana,

    There will always be a pulpit for the lowly 'economic unit' to preach from here at the NAD. I figure if we the lemmings make enough noise, the powers that be, those swine that are in fact the few will have to listen.

  12. I never thought of socialism or socialist as a bad word. But then again, I’m Canadian. My parents and grandparents never really had to suffer through a world of propaganda. Either that or they chose to ignore the nonsense and not pass down the ignorance to their offspring.

    I see what you mean though, the neo-cons are looking for a replacement word for the N word. Something less dirty. Something they can argue about without showing their true colours. It’s creepy.
    What also irritates me is fact that a lot of Americans refer & dismiss my country’s health care as ‘socialized health care’. Um, technically it should be called civilized health care but it’s actually called Universal Healthcare. And, it works. President Obama knows it works, that’s why he’s trying so hard to make changes to the current ‘health care’ system. I really hope he accomplishes change--my fingers are crossed for America.

    As for Bill Gates, he has his wealthy parents and opportunity to thank for his riches. Read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and you’ll see what I mean. ;)

  13. I am loving the discussion here...

    colourmatrix13, I hope Canada doesn't follow in America's footsteps because that's where my husband is determined to flee to when shit hits the fan! I really liked this part of your comment: "It was strange and nauseating to debate with someone so devoid of reality and whose ignorance and arrogance Pretty much said it all this man was a trained gerbil" It is hard to discuss these issues with the clueless but please, keep trying! I wonder what happened to him too. Hmm...

    The Uneasy Writer, Thank you for your visiting & comment. I felt like I omitted the health care issue from this post and you picked up on that. I saw Michael Moore's Documentary "Sicko" which spelled it out beautifully. If we applied the Microsoft concept to health care, the little people might see how much they are being exploited...then again, maybe not. I will definitely check out "Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell". Much appreciate the food for thought.


  14. Great Post.

    I agree, terms like "socialist" and the rhetoric from right-wing extremist are merely thinly veiled attempts to stoke racism. I think lots of people are flipping out because our president is Black. As Jimmy Carter stated the other day, some people still consider Blacks as being inferrior & unable to manage things, much less the country. What we have to do to combat this is to share OUR experiences. Black/White/Whatver and let these people know they CANNOT run the discussion. That there are voices that do not agree and are not blind to what they're doing. These extremist get so much shine because we are too busy social networking & having intellectual debates. When will THE PEOPLE, you know the sane people, the majority of our country take to the streets and say "NOT IN OUR NAME?"

  15. Lately (and sadly) much of my political education has been peripheral. Somewhere along the line it became very obviously disheartening to engage in the in your face rhetoric we're fed by the media. GG hits on much of what dances in the back of my mind (and many others)--those "thoughts" we can't seem to put into the right words without it being construed as racist. It's kind of like the elephant in the room. I've been guilty of stepping around it as the system seems just too frustrating to warrant my "little" commentaries. Thanks gg, for putting it so eloquently!