I've done either an incredibly brave thing or a very stupid thing - depending on which side of the issue you stand.
Today, while visiting Facebook, one of my "friends," who is actually a service-provider and I don't know her well, described her child's classmate as "the colored child."
The COLORED child. I actually got nauseous. What is this - 1965? Are we whipping out the fire hoses Thursday afternoon? Are we getting ready to hang signs up over the water coolers again?
In my mind, COLORED is a racial slur. An ethnic insult. A polite way to cover the word nigger.
With all the black host students who have lived in my home over the past decades, you can imagine we have had plenty of deep, meaningful discussions about the power of words.
I stood in my driveway as a child and sing-songed "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me." But that is such a lie - scientists have found that just hearing sentences about elderly people led research subjects to walk more slowly. In other research, individuals read words of 'loving kindness' showed increases in self-compassion, improved mood, and reduced anxiety.
But today, it was damn hard to look prejudice in the face.
And so I was faced with a choice. I could have skipped on down to any other message, watched a video, gone back to writing, and ignored the remark.
Or I could do what I believed was right and take a stand.
I confronted. I sent her a short message that said I found her choice of a racial slur unacceptable and could no longer be her friend. I then "un-friended" her.
I'll admit - it was hard to be a bit confrontational. Hard to call someone out like that.
And it had ramifications.
Several of her friends and relatives began bombarding me with FB messages.
Her husband telephoned me.
I asked him where I was supposed to draw the line? Should I get upset if my friend's child is called a faggot? How about when my son is called a dago or my daughter a squaw? Do I accept kike or queer or cracker or honkey? Do I only react when a label is pasted on someone I know? Or someone I love?
Advise me, dear friends. I'm not feeling like a brave activist tonight - in fact, these people have me feeling like I've done something wrong.