Making America Great Again? : Oppressive Language and its Effects
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Making America Great Again? : Oppressive Language and its Effects

“Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge.” Toni Morrison

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Making America Great Again? : Oppressive Language and its Effects
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There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

-Proverbs 12:18 ESV

This nation has been through A LOT the past two weeks since Donald J. Trump was sworn in a President of the United States. And although it may come as a surprise to some, he is working to put into action all of the ridiculous things he promised during his campaign, including the wall to keep Mexican immigrants out of the U.S and the Muslim ban to keep those of Islamic faith out of this country. It seems like Trump has wasted no time working on "making America great again", which seems to include getting rid of all of the people who are not like him. With all of the craziness that has been going on, there has been one quote that I feel perfectly describes the times we are living in.

This quote comes from writer Toni Morrison and states,

“Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does much more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge.”

When I first came across this quote about a year ago, I never would have imagined it would be seeing this in such a prevalent way in this country, especially not from our Commander-in-Chief. Unfortunately, I feel that this perfectly describes what has been going on in this country for the past few weeks. While Donald Trump is not personally causing harm to people physically, his words and his actions are very harmful. By classifying everyone of Islamic faith as "radicals" or saying that Mexican immigrants are "drug dealers, murders, and thugs", not only are you shining a negative light on an entire group of people, but you are using your position of leadership to get other people to see these groups in the same light (which can lead to physical violence).

Toni Morrison rightfully states that the spewing of oppressive language in itself is violence, aside from the violence it encourages. Just as physical violence can cause pain to whomever it is used against, so can hateful speech. Negative words have the power to break a heart or shatter a spirit just as physical violence has the power to break bones. Spouting hateful speech towards a person due to their race, religion, or gender tears at a person's foundation and can leave them feeling inadequate. Oppressive language not only "represent[s] the limit of knowledge", it prevents the spread of knowledge. By creating a stereotype of a certain group of people, a negative "standard" is made and people use that "standard" to judge those they don't know. Much like the stereotype of all Muslims being terrorists. Due to unfortunate events in American history, hateful language has been used against all of those of the Islamic faith causing society to make assumptions of the religion. Assumptions drawn from oppressive language prevents society from ever reaching out to seek the truth. Because many people have been told that all people that follow the Islamic religion are anti-Americans, many Americans don't, and probably won't, ever make an effort to learn more about the truths of the religion. Oppressive language, regardless of the scale, leads to negative influence; negative influence leads to stereotypes and assumptions, which ultimately leads to a society that is unwilling to shake whatever preconceived notions they have acquired. When people are unwilling to let go of what they've heard, we are unable to move forward as an accepting, social/cultural conscious society.

The world can learn a great deal from Morrison's bold statements. We as people of this Earth have a responsibility to build each other up. Being that we are to share this free world, it is only right that we learn to treat each other with the utmost respect and not condemn those who are different than us.

Just as the Bible says, "Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." ( Ephesians 4:29 NLT)

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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