Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Power to the People

The people have been heard! 

Sometimes something comes along or someone does something that you just roll your eyes at and say, "really?"  And sometimes that's all that's warranted - a non-committal response, a reaction of indredulity and mild annoyance, and something to file away in the back of your mind for later, if need be.  It could take the form of an off-color joke, or, perhaps, an insensitive remark by a well-meaning friend or relative (just using this as an example, relatives!  I don't think any of you have *ever* been insensitive, honest!). 

Sometimes something comes along or someone does something that requires action.  Something that isn't necessarily perceived as offensive to the majority, but something that requires the people of the minority to step in and be heard, to teach a lesson to that majority and bring them into the fold of understanding and sensitivity to the feelings of others.  The battle between team owner, Dan Snyder, and countless native tribes across the Americas over the name of the football team, the Washington Redskins, for example.  I'm not writing today to debate this particular topic, but let me just say, if it's offensive to someone, if it *hurts* an entire population of people and perpetuates negative stereotypes, DON'T DO IT

Same thing for the "r-word."  You know the word, the one that people throw around and think is funny, something to laugh at, a pejorative word of ridicule, and disdain.  A word people use without even thinking when joking with their friends, calling them retards for, perhaps, something silly they've done, or for not understanding something, or for no reason at all. 

I've written about the "r-word" (it doesn't deserve the capital letter at the beginning that so many people give it - it will always be fully-lower-case to me) many times before.  So have countless others.  And while I'm not one to call everyone out on it every time I hear it thrown around in conversation, I am one to bring it to attention when the situation warrants it.  There's a time and a place...

Now, this is not new news, and you've probably read about it over the past few days, but there was no time or place better than last week's revelation that Kat Von D, tattoo artist, TV personality and beauty line creator, had come out with a new lipstick color called Celebutard


Completely uncalled for.  And completely offensive.  And something had to be done.

Some may say, oh, whatever...the r-word/football team name/whateverisbeingscrutinizednow was just *fine* back in the day when it was a medical term/a newly-created team...what's all the fuss now?

Right.  It was "fine" with the majority.  It was "fine" before the collective consciousness of these disregarded and undervalued people/groups were realized, before these disregarded and undervalued members of society found their voices and begged to be heard. 

And now they're being heard.

Dave Hingsburger, upon learning of the offensively-titled lipstick, created his first Change.org petition, and, as they say, the rest is history.  After a whirlwind flurry on Facebook and other social media sites, retailers, such as JC Penny and Sephora, reacted quickly, pulling the product from their shelves and websites and issuing apologies.  I thought I'd read that Kat Von D was going to change the name, but now I can't find any reference to that.  Maybe I just dreamed it...  

The whole drama, from start to finish, was so fast that if you blinked, you likely missed it.  It was a true marvel, and one that I hope to see play out with similar success more and more, but to be needed less and less as high-profile people and companies, leading by example to the masses, start to check their words and think before using a word, about whether or not it would have harmful connotations.  Think about whether it would be hurtful to someone, even just one person.

The people have spoken, their voices heard, their power gaining strength.

My daughter is worth the fight.

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