I was privileged to attend Emergence Christianity this past weekend in Memphis with 450 of my closest friends. Part of this event was something called PechaKucha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PechaKucha). PechaKucha is a new form of communicating where presenters have 20 slides that move at 20 seconds per slide. Their presentation should coincide with these slides. Twenty slides at twenty seconds keeps each presentation at 6 minutes 40 seconds. So, you have 6 minutes and 40 seconds to convey what ever message is important to you. I like this. It keeps things concise and interesting.
I also had the honor of meeting my online friend Bruce Reyes-Chow for the first time and hearing his PechaKucha entitled “Words Matter”, which is also the title of his self-published book releasing next month.
Bruce talks for almost 7 minutes on why the words we use when we talk about race are troublesome. He talks about phrases like:
“No, where are you REALLY from?”
“I’m not a racist, but…”
“You all look the same.”
“Race is a social construct.”
He expounds on these phrases and why they are harmful in a beautiful way, that you’ll have to buy his book to hear about.
I really enjoyed his presentation and it got me thinking towards some conversations I’ve had on Social Media recently concerning words folks use to demean my neighbors who sleep outside and my friends who are abled differently than I am.
Words like “bum” are really offensive to my neighbors who sleep outside, yet we throw it around like nobody’s business. Phrases like, “Just, get a job!” are really hurtful. Have you tried to find a job when you can’t get a license because you don’t have an address?
What about my friends who have different abilities? What about my friends who have kids with “invisible” disabilities like Autism and Aspergers? Do I make my community of faith accessible and comfortable for them? What words do I use to ostracize these folks (usually unintentionally)?
Bruce’s talk about race got me to thinking about how much words matter on the larger scale. Yes, race is a big issue that needs to be addressed, especially in the south. I’m not downplaying that. But so is the ostracism of poor folks and differently abled folks. The Kingdom of God includes all. All means all. So let’s be careful with our words, especially those of us who are people of faith.
How can we live a life where Words Matter and be more respectful of folks who don’t look and think like us?