By Debbie Olujobi
Political correctness has done a lot to straighten language and remove the many offences that can be taken when words and manners are used to segregate, discriminate and offensively identify. Now I am a person of colour or Afro Caribbean, a century ago, I would have been racially and offensively identified as a nigger. That particular hate word evolved into Negro before my race became classed as people of colour and of an Afro-Caribbean descent.
To the best of my knowledge, no one has taken offence at the new appellations and I guess it may be some time before we evolve into a new identity. The black race is not the only group or interest who benefitted from the move towards political correctness and while some may argue that not much has changed; there is a strong psychological and emotional gratification that comes from getting recognition and respect. It is the affirmation and confirmation that we are reckoned with; that we count, that is truly gratifying.
It is the nature of man to classify and identify by titles or class. My sister is a top executive in human relations abroad and I had casually referred to a race of people by a term that seemed harmless when she shushed me. My initial indignation turned to horror when she let me into the truth that I had just used a hate word.
It was a term used to classify a race of people who were expected to be at best shop keepers or cab drivers and they apparently found it offensive. As well they should; it’s no better than someone labelling me a fraudster because a few Nigerians were.
She reminded me that many of the richest men in the world were of that same race I had just casually denigrated. As if using that word wasn’t bad enough as it made me a racist and a bigot; it could have landed me in jail as it was now a hate crime in the United kingdom. My words may not have been fuelled by hate but ignorance is as insidious a motive as any label when it identifies anything and anyone in a way that generally classifies them as less than they are.
I was reminded of an article I wrote years ago about political correctness and how the new terms and titles being introduced bordered on the ludicrous. Some agitations for change are nothing to do with civil rights more with grandstanding and just glory seeking but some are showing a more tolerance hue in the rainbow of human relations. My nearest and dearest was filling a form a while back and it mentioned a new title that I hadn’t seen in print. Instead of marital status; there was a section for “significant other”.
This we both found fascinating and we surmised this meant an acceptability of all unions outside of the conventionally acceptable. I do hold conservative views and believe strongly that everyone should aim to find the one person they would love to share their lives with.
My convictions stop short of the condemnation of any association or even state of co-habitation that people choose; that’s between them and God. I’ve been tasked on my position many a time but I don’t believe it’s up to me to approve or disapprove of anyone’s choices; that’s judgement; It’s God’s business. I do find tolerance a virtue most beautiful and if some countries will acknowledge and give rights to unions outside of the conventional I say bravo. Love is significant in any way or the other.
My musings had a lot to do with the inscription on the birthday cake of my Dearest and my first choice had been to get on the politically correct train and write “love always to my significant other”.. I felt it was witty, we would both find it funny and since I hold the dual position of BFF and wife, I proceeded to do so.
I however under estimated the size of cake in question and the amount of words or is it letters it would take to write my litany. So I went back to my mental drawing board wondering what accolades I could bestow on the heart shaped red wonder I had ordered. As cakes go, less is more and I have been given a 24hour grace by Audrey to say something short and equally sweet. The Clock is ticking and I am still undecided, what a time to run short of words.
The only certain thing is a love that has no boundaries or limitations and a life long troth I make with every breathe.. I will come up with something but whatever the words or pictures; it will mean happy birthday my Darling, my friend, my companion, my confidante, my significant other and my husband; love always for life….