There’s a new Sherif in Town… ‘Politically Correctness’
A friend of mine wrote an article “Dear Professor, Do not be Shy.” Apparently he had an experience where the university professor seemed reluctant to engage a student on a very topical issue that would have garnered debate on issues of race, sexuality and even worse religion.
I was fascinated by the idea of Professors being “shy,” especially in the spirit of a rich academic environment such as university campus. This situation was familiar to me however. Permit me to point out the rising issue I believe my friend alluded to; and this is the disease of Politically Correctness, from which the USA suffers.
Well, maybe ’disease’ is a strong a word, but there’s an obvious issue that needs to be addressed in order to promote true freedom of speech and expression while also minimizing ‘foot in mouth’… another PC-related disease.
First, being politically correct is good. As a citizen of “Minority-ville,” I have hoped many times that individuals were either more PC or … lessPC. In its simplest terms, PC means being conscious in one’s speech and behaviour in order to minimize harm or offense to any individual or group. Note well, that being PC is not just to the benefit of minorities, but every individual deserves the right to respect.
If you’ve found yourself over-thinking before conversing with the elder lady, the black teacher, the Native American nurse, your gay classmate or your gay classmate who uses a wheelchair, then you’re probably familiar with ‘foot in mouth disease.’
Next, be aware of social realities. When someone says I’m pagan don’t express your ignorance with a funny face. It’s 2013, so be prepared to meet all the people that used to hide in the closet 100 years ago. Nothing should shock you too much! Unless you live in a hole… which reminds me, every American should make at least one international trip in his or her lifetime… but that’s another blog.
Expand your worldview. In University, I loved sharing my Jamaican culture especially with people who seemed to have done a little homework before asking questions. Save the stereotypes for stand-up comedy. We don’t all smoke weed or live in trees. This goes for all diverse groups. To expand your intelligence as a member of the new world, educate yourself.
Third, the university space is where we should argue and agree to disagree. Students, feel free to ask questions. Professors, feel free to create a safe space for debate. This is how we learn about each other. Christians have their beliefs. Atheists do too. If the man says he was born gay, for heaven’s sake, if you can’t respectfully articulate your disagreement, just admit to not understand the ‘phenomenon’ and move on.
To sum it up, use inclusive language when addressing an audience, we aren’t all men or ‘HEs.’ Always remember ‘people’ first if there’s a need to reference to physical or mental abilities. ‘Are you dating someone?’ is a safe question. And, if it so happens that someone expresses preference or dislike for a name or title, don’t invalidate his or her opinion. I can be called whatever I want, and change my mind 50 times about it. No, it’s not sarcasm. It’s my right.
Finally, remember our common characteristic is our humanity. Put yourself in someone else’s shoe. In describing and discussing each other remember we are all people first and by virtue of this, each person deserves “unconditional positive regard” (Alex Vega 2012)… See, at the end of the day, being PC, you aint even gotta like me. All I’m asking is for a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Let’s keep the conversation going… Leave a comment