I want you to do a quick exercise with me.
For the next two days, any time you’re tempted to call something “gay” or “retarded” or “OCD” or to call someone “such a Jew” or “such a girl” or “so white,” replace the keyword with “Muslim.”
“Dude, stop looking at me like that, that’s so Muslim.” “Yeah, my mom completely loses her top if we don’t have every inch of our house white on Fridays, she’s, like, Muslim.” “Lol, that brother plays basketball like a Muslim.”
Did any of that kind of hurt your soul a little bit?
We have a responsibility to guard our tongues and hearts against casual -isms. We all know that racism and sexism aren’t dead, but a lot of the time we dismiss the topic because Islam is perfect, and there’s no place for discrimination within it. But a perfect deen does not mean perfect followers of it. Muslims are just as guilty of racism, ableism, sexism, homophobia, cultural appropriation, etc, as everyone else. We’ve got our fair share of domestic violence and we’ve got our friends who dress up as “gypsies” or American Indians to costume parties — which, like, okay, consider this for a moment: Wal-Mart releases an “Islamic costume” and we’re all up in arms. Have we ever considered how wrong it is for people to dress up in “costumes” of other cultures that have faced and still do face discrimination to which we’re so acquainted?
We have to think outside of ourselves. I imagine that you know “retarded” meant “less advanced in physical, mental, or social development” sometime ago. You know it means “very foolish or stupid” now. You realize that there are still people that exist and have feelings that are “less advanced” right? Maybe you aren’t neurodivergent yourself, maybe you don’t know someone who is, but these are still people. How’d you like it if “Muslim” actually did become synonymous with “terrorist”?
How many times do you sarcastically ask “are you blind?” or call New Jersey weather “schizo” or “bipolar”? How often do you hear men and women insult a guy by calling him a “girl” or a “princess”? Just what is so insulting about being a woman? Never think less of someone because of what they might be.
These are real things that people have to deal with every day. And they aren’t always struggles or problems, they’re skin colors and sexes and cultural backgrounds and other forms of personal identity. To hear them used as insults, particularly at individuals to which they don’t even apply, is insulting to everyone to whom they do apply. We use them in our every day language without a second thought, and I think on our ongoing quest to be, y’know, decent people, it’s best for us to try and avoid it.
I’m not saying to google the etymology of every word that comes out of your mouth. I’m not even saying to stop calling things “stupid” or “dumb” or “lame,” because words gain and lose meaning as much as everything else and I’m just as guilty of talking like this. My goal is just to raise a flag somewhere in the back of our heads so that we all consider everything that comes out of our mouths, because the tongue is the sharpest weapon we have. Sometimes you cut yourselves or others without meaning to.
I’ll leave you with this video. It’s funny, and it focuses on white privilege specifically, but it makes a good point.