Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Political correctness run amuk?

"Words have power."

Guy Jones, co-founder of the Miami Valley Council for Native Americans, spoke about the power of words in yesterday’s Forum. I think we sometimes get so caught up in being so careful with our words, being so politically correct, that it gets in the way of clear communication.

Case in point: Yesterday I received an emailed news release from another organization announcing the replacement of its president. "The Board...has unanimously decided to transition... from the position of president." Really? Transition from the position? Please.

But then there are other times.

There has been much made in recent years and months about various sports teams known as “Redskins.” PollyAnna here always thought that this was just another example of political correctness run amuk. You know the Sunday School song: “Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His site. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” Red skinned… Redskins.

Jones, a Hunkpapa Lakota, told the origin of that word. I had no idea…

There was a time when hunters and trappers would be paid for animal skins, for beaver skins, for coon skins, for red skins… The price was higher for female red skins, lower for child red skins. Certain body parts needed to be brought in along with the scalp in order to receive the correct “pay.”

He is correct to ask how one can honestly say we are honoring Native Americans by retaining the Redskin moniker once you know the word’s origin.

Words have so much power.

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