For me, it all began with the movie "Pocahontas" when I was a little kid. It started when Ratcilffe, Wiggins and the other colonizing men started singing, "What can you expect from filthy little heathens? Here's what you get when the races are diverse. Their skin's a hellish red, they're only good when dead, they're vermin, as I said, and worse. They're savages! Savages! Barely even human. Savages! Savages! Drive them from our shore! They're not like you and me which means they must be evil, we must sound the drums of war! They're savages! Savages!" This undiluted disdain subsided, but fast forward 15 or so years and suddenly the phrase "savage" or "that's savage" became a popular term for when someone says or does something sassy or feisty. My hate of that word got instantly more intense the more commonplace that word became.
It's hard to describe the feeling that I, and some of my friends feel when people say "that's sooooo savage". It's a mixture of anger, frustration, and sadness. It's not too too bad when it's said in my vicinity to a person other than me, but when that kind of "compliment" is directed towards me, it really gets my blood boiling.
"Why you mad bro?"
Well, being Native American, you get a lot of ignorant slurs directed towards you. Savage has been one of those slurs directed towards Native Americans since the beginning of colonization. Just as those above Disney lyrics have shown, the attitude towards Native Americans has been demeaning to our people since 1492. We were called "backwards", "barbaric", and "savage", among other things. We were made out to be inferior peoples since we were not Christian. "Savage" is what we get called in the grocery store when we are just out doing errands. "Savage" is what we get called when we use our Status Cards in the stores.
"But we meant no harm."
I get that and I personally do appreciate it, but please, just stop saying it. You have to understand that there's something you should just not say. "Jipped", "Jewed", "Slave", etc. are all words that should not be used to describe actions. I know that people do not mean to offend sometimes, but ignorance should not be used as an excuse.
Please, please, please refrain from using the term "savage", or any other term stemming from racist comments, such as "jipped" or "jewed". It's not cool. It's not nice. It's just sad really.