Re: Of “Kihii”, “N-word”, the Coded Messages Therein and Their Impact.
By Dorcas S
This topic piqued my interest for a variety of reasons:
– The parallelism between the hatred and disrespect embodied in such words,
– The rationalization of their usage,
– The hypocrisy when the shoe is on the other foot.
The responses from folks who spew such vileness are oftentimes along the lines of:
“Such slurs should be ignored because by ‘responding’ to them, you are allowing those who use them the ‘power’ to affect your lives, your moods etc. The day you choose to ignore the words is the day they lose their power, their sting and ultimately, their effect on you.”
There is also the “I call all my ‘good friends’ (insert offensive word)”. To this I say “show me your friends and I will show you your character – or come close to it.”
Another rationalization, a favorite, goes something like this:
“I don’t see color or tribe, I am a (fill in favorite exculpatory grouping); in fact, some of my best friends are (fill in favorite group).” In response, I wonder whether such people stop at red lights – since they “don’t see color”! I also wonder how those who use the term “kihii” would respond to being called the “n-word” by people (whites) who are oblivious to the hatred or disrespect embodied in the former word.
Finally, and this is from personal experience, I wonder whether these people realize and understand the power dynamics embodied in (the use of) such derogatory words and how such power dynamics are reflected in the decisions and policy decisions their users oftentimes make – professionally.
To wit: The boss who had a penchant for spewing racist and sexist rants was the same boss who paid his female employees less than his male ones. This was the same boss who saw Africans as “harder” working employees than those “lazy and entitled n-word”.
So, the person who flippantly tosses out the term “kihii” at those unlike him or her is the same person who will treat the target of the demeaning term – well, like the “uncircumcised little boy who cannot lead”.
Think about that the next time you are driven to that brink!
“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” – Edgar Allen Poe.