Latest writings...

Subscribe to the RSS Feed

Reconciled to Jargon

Posted on 30 April 2011 by Barbara Beckwith (1,070)

Several years ago, when I sat on the diversity committee of the National Writers Union, we asked anyone attending our caucus to introduce him or herself as either a “person of color,” an LGBT person, a person with a disability — or an ally of one or all of the above.

I happily introduced myself as white, straight, “temporarily able-bodied,” and as an ally to all three of what we called “target groups.” But our in-group language turned some people off. Several refused to label themselves: they wanted to just sit and observe. Our caucus organizers insisted. Those otherwise sympathetic attendees never came to another meeting. Accusations of “nomenclature puritanism” and “oppression competitivness” followed. Mutual respect went down the drain. Ever since, I’ve been leery of jargon.

Now, as I try to understand persistent racial inequality in the U.S., I find myself reading dense books that are full of in-group language. The authors mix words I know in mystifying combinations like “racial touristing,” “aversive racism,” or “the racialized other.” They also create “neologisms” — academic lingo for new words such as  “positionality,” interiority,” “overprivilege” or “cyberwhitening.” My computer’s spell checker flags each of these as not words — seems that getting a PhD these days requires thinking up new words as well as new ideas.  

Ordinarily, I’d bypass books that use such terminology. And yet, I’ve been hanging in there: racism is too important to turn away from just because those who study it most closely use language that turns me off.

After a year of reading brain-straining books, however, I looked forward to an upcoming conference aimed at grassroots anti-racist people – my type of folks. But even then, confusing codewords cropped up. Take the conference title: “White Privilege,” a term that was once code for KKK attitudes: anti-racists now use it to name advantages for some that should be rights for all.

Some workshop titles with unfamiliar terms like microaggression, code-switching, and nadanolization, intimidated me. But I attended them anyway and did learn a lot. I even came home with a t-shirt that I chose for its bright blue color, tolerating its jargony saying on the back: “Interrogate your hidden assumptions.”

In fact, I’m finding that yes, jargon can be alienating, but it can also be catching. I’m starting to use it myself. I now co-lead an adult education course that talks of “systemic white privilege” as the underlying cause of racial inequality. To make that abstract idea real, we use an image from anti-racist educator Peggy McIntosh, of an invisible knapsack that gives white people, wherever they go, assumed credibility in intelligence, honesty, beauty, and access to people in power.

As I get comfortable with anti-racist terminology, I’m sometimes caught up short. Like the time I was shoveling snow with my neighbor and friend, who knows about my class. As we toss shovels full of snow from street to yard, the conversation turns to race. “I can’t stand it when folks say Black people can’t be racist,” he says. “Black people can’t be racist because they lack institutional power? That’s bunk.”

I am taken aback. He’s African American, and I take his perspective seriously. I’m one of the folks he’s objecting to.

I frankly admit that in my class, I use the definition of racism that’s currently prevalent in anti-racist circles: racism = race prejudice plus power. I try to defend the concept that without the backing of significant institutionalized power to oppress, prejudice is just prejudice, not racism. But he’s not having it, and I realize that I’m arguing for a cutting-edge theory that makes so much sense to those who use it, but which makes no sense to almost everybody else.

I’ve since tried to avoid anti-racist terminology that I’d gotten used to using — trigger words, target groups, code-switching, matrix of domination — but which elicits from most people a “huh?”

Jargon that’s grounded in the day-to-day is still okay by me. Take “gate-keeping,” a phrase that’s widespread in anti-racist circles. Yes, it’s jargon, but at least I can picture a gate, and a person who latches it or unlatches it. The metaphor works for me. It helps me see how people like myself have power to keep gates to closed to people unlike ourselves or to open those gates of opportunity to everyone – in our workplaces, our schools, or our neighborhoods.

I particularly welcome fresh images that give me new perspectives. W.E.B. Dubois’ visionary “double consciousness…. the sense of always looking at oneself through the eyes of others” shows me what it means to be Black in America. Ralph Ellison’s metaphor of the “invisible man” — “because people refuse to see me” — shifts my outlook, as well. And when Beverly Daniel Tatum describes “cultural racism” as an unhealthy fog that we — people of all colors –can’t see but we breathe in daily, I get her point.

So the next time I come up against a catchphrase, for instance “the problem is not Black underprivilege, but white overprivilege,” I’ll ignore my spell checker’s  irritation, and my own. Instead, I’ll look anew at what’s right, what’s wrong, and what we need to change.

1,070 Responses to “Reconciled to Jargon”

  1. 生物資源が十分得られる場合は、どのような種類の支払いを受ける?あなたが他の場所でお金を得ていることはできますか?あなたが本当にあなたが必要とする資金を高めることができない場合は、あなたのためダウンスケールするのですか? 5。あなたはあなたから一人で行うことができるしている事業を考えて決定し、またはあなたが人と女性を雇う場合には、パートナーことができるかどうか。

  2. 1900 年代を通じて愛らしさと舞い上がる、について受諾として電気技師を開設、世界を介してインターネット接続 130 富スポット完璧なアーティスト モエ ヘネシーと非常に後方の 1980年年代の接続直後ジェレミー ・ ヴィトン設立ケースワーク自分貴族アーティスト マークジェイコブス入隊しました。
    グッチ バッグ

  3. B. 夜にスコットランドの素敵な資本に関するほぼすべての段階のような場合コーチ アウトレット オンライン トロント位置を保存します。?それにもかかわらず、誰もが人々 はゴマ マノロブラニク選ぶ 2013年販売のための特定の理解を理解しないために主に彼らはにもかかわらず、おそらく近くに介していた持っていることばによるさまざまなフォームを接続するつもりです。
    ナイキ ジョーダン

  4. 荷物が、屋外を採用した興味深い真皮と追加ポケット後から中を使用して、あるが。内側豪華な袋に関連付けられているモデルは、単に繊細なブースト外側文学です。エルメス バーキンは、いつも本当の戦い追加対応です。中国に記載されている袋を得る様々 な方法を見てみましょう。ハンドバッグは、大規模かつより密接に独創的なすべて 1 つのシーズンを取得維持します。ハンドバッグのトレンディなと鮮やかな色は、通常の最近のデザインの縮図に関してように見るし、エレガントなスタイルのサイズのように大歓迎可能性があります支援する設計あまりにもエキゾチックな一見。

  5. 欲求不満は特にに関して上着にあなたのしっぽをバストに、それぞれの脳の解体である。コー​​ト権限秋/冬2009/2010の欧州タイトルのために多くの未知の傾向は、キャメル色のは、古典的なテクニック、繭のスタイルについて述べた。。しばしばを有するあなたの野心のクライアントを参照してくださいいくつかの他の問題の解決策について話すことの習慣をお楽しみください。3 つの端を知っているし、ガイドラインに加えてしようと文章を書くことによって多数のポイントで発生するだろうと希望を書く !多くのオンライン版があり、雑誌はおそらくあなたのコンテンツを受け入れることがあります。
    グッチ 財布 レディース

  6. マチ付きバッグ本当にことができます異なるサイズとその個々 の心の目の中の消費者を熟読色と思われます。私は、以前取得幼児衣類をされていた人との関係で大きな子供材料仲買人を訪問狩りしてきた。彼と行くには、単にすること考慮に入れる十分な実行している必要が問題のイベントにインター バンクのショッピング モールのアイデアを食べるに最適であること。ボリュームの領域でピッキング若者はかなりビット リクです。
    HERMES birkin

  7. でも意見はいつでも歓迎されます誰でも誰かを処理するために最適な印象を作ることに改善する。エッジに最適な競争の利点を取得することが重要です。。対比色で – 高級な相補的なタッチをカバーするため採用されているコレクション。なぜ選択必須の 1 つの孤独なを購入です。それと丁度同じのハンドバッグ調理の目的の衣服の色を発見することができます。
    sh-01e vivienne westwood

  8. Microsof 所有会社です。ゲイツ氏の一括払い休憩著作権の url を保持しながら $ 50, 000、IBM の開発教育動作ルーチンの起源。1999 ではさらに、ゲートのインターネット ブラウザーのニッチの Microsogt の独占に関連して反トラスト法違反の刑務所でだった。和らげるためにより心が広いは、iPhone 上革のケースをまた得ることができます。これらは様々 な異なるレイアウトや色で利用できます。彼らはほとんどの新しい iphone 4 シナリオと比較してもより多くかさばる丈夫な革から来る作成する可能性があります。
    vivienne 財布

  9. ほとんど明らかに特に明白である裸足ジョギングに glam の割合です。他のキリスト教の Audigier チェックのための予想はちょうど当社便の興奮と不安の端に私たちを出発します。キリスト教の Audigier はないのに、まだ設計する天才であるマーケティングに時間がかかるべきである考慮します。

  10. 中には、両方を置き忘れてきた。しかし、我々の時間の中での光の状況組織線経由。
    vivienne バッグ

  11. life for neglect death of daughter

  12. Grande-Bretagne: Les femmes prêtres célèbrent les 20 ans des premières ordinations de femmes

  13. A great content. Many thanks!

  14. Excellent! since the pictures. I love this page mainly because they give many details this allows for more clarity of what’s being purchased.
    [url=]mulberry outlet uk[/url]

  15. I placed this order to the shoes on 02/25 we recieved them March 11… I am just very delighted by the goods. The shipping was fast and search exactly like the picture. The only flaw would be that I really believe the shoe is kinda bald at the end from the shoe thus i will be required to get yourself a shoe grip. On the other hand am excited
    tiffany outlet

  16. Loved the bag. It smells horribly nonetheless the quality is nice, I’d buy again. Thanks a lot.Beautiful handbag, loved, came perfectly packed, identical photo.
    mulberry bags

  17. Reconciled to Jargon  | Barbara Beckwith
    nike air max 90 2007

  18. Since the admin of this web page is working, no uncertainty very soon it will be renowned, due to its feature air jordans outlet[url=]Air jordan 11[/url] contents

  19. cheap supreme court implemented accommodate hours after

    Important attire retailers which include Ann (ANN) along with Ralph ralph lauren uk store Lauren (RL) attempt a ralph lauren shirts sale significant multi-level with manufacturer stores to bring in importance knowledgeable consumers. For the reason that identify indicates, manufacturing area suppliers present products from affordable prices in comparison with additional Usa Novelty helmet suppliers. Your shop exposed in relation to 10 production line sites in 2012 and also wants to add more pertaining to 45 in the present money year.

    If you ever anything like me, heat of the summer months are frequently incredible. Home, there are lots of will get all the way to One ralph lauren uk store hundred ralph lauren uk store and eight degrees Fahrenheit, hence something that cools down is a allowed and wonderful matter. There lovers tend to be awesome to cool cheap mulberry bags uk down the off, but they’re typically oakley canada sale large in addition to mounted on houses (that currently is far out of the snapshot for my situation.).