Hey, White People, 'Politically Correct' Speak Got You Down? Maybe It's Your Privilege Speaking

Hey, White People, 'Politically Correct' Speak Got You Down? Maybe It's Your Privilege Speaking

That pool of words that you've been relaxing in, the ones that you think make you look cool may actually be a product of that privilege.

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If you're having trouble or are getting annoyed by the movement in favor of political correctness, I have a thought for you to consider — it's not up to you.

Look, I am a white, middle class, cisgender female, but none of that makes it okay for me to decide what is or is not offensive to someone else. Especially someone who may not share the same demographics that I represent.

I don't use the word "gay" as a synonym for lame or effeminate.
I don't use the n-word, yes that means in certain songs I stop singing when it's used.
I don't say the c-word, though it's been used on me.

I try to be as mindful as I can with my words because words are important. Words are my life. Words build nations and incite wars.

Words have the power to unite us just as much as they can divide us.

So, the n-word may not be offensive to some of the black people you know or even to you personally, but that doesn't make it okay for you to appropriate it. That word has a history that may not be yours to forgive.

And just so you know, the option that you have to ignore the offensive nature of these words, that's privilege. Privilege is the luxury of ignorance.

So, that pool of words that you've been relaxing in, the ones that you think make you look cool may actually be a product of that privilege.

And hey, if not using those words stresses you out and hurts your vocabulary, think about it this way: according to Merriam-Webster, there are about 470,000 words in the English language. That is a huge amount of words.

A HUGE amount of words.

And if you subtract all the offensive ones, I bet you would still have over 400,000 to choose from. That is still a crazy number of words you could be using instead.

And if it helps you understand — think about things that you find offensive and how much it annoys or offends you when people are not considerate of that.

My point is, and hold your excuses for the end please, that you don't get a say. You don't get to determine what is or isn't offensive to someone else. You just don't.

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Minority Representation Was Never Just About Historical Accuracy

Gemma Chan's casting in "Mary Queen of Scots" has far more reach and impact beyond the issue of historical accuracy.

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The past year has been regarded as a revolutionary time for Asian representation, and it seems to begin with what came to be known as "Asian August" in 2018. The momentum from "Asian August" has carried through into 2019. A recently prominent figure in Asian representation is Gemma Chan, who starred in "Crazy Rich Asians" and "Captain Marvel." Her role as Bess of Hardwick in "Mary Queen of Scots," however, drew some criticism from viewers, who questioned the casting of an Asian woman as a white historical figure. Chan has since responded to this criticism in her Allure cover story.

Chan stated in Allure, "Why are actors of color, who have fewer opportunities anyway, only allowed to play their own race? And sometimes they're not even allowed to play their own race." To this, she added, "If John Wayne can play Genghis Khan, I can play Bess of Hardwick." She makes an important point about representation here: many roles of historical figures of color have been played by white actors. Actors of color have very few opportunities, and in many cases, are even denied roles of historical figures of their race.

It's true that a major argument for better representation has been accuracy to the source material, but the actual issue of representation is not about historical accuracy. The push for better representation is a push to see more actors of color onscreen and to open up more opportunities for actors of color, especially when white actors are placed in roles of historical figures of color. Gemma Chan brings up John Wayne, who was in yellowface for his role of Genghis Khan.

The barring of actors of color, who already have fewer opportunities, from the roles of these historical figures is the true problem, not a lack of accuracy to the source material. There is a backlash when a white actor plays the role of a person of color because actors of color already have very limited opportunities.

Gemma Chan further states that "art should reflect life now" and that "If we portray a pure white past, people start to believe that's how it was, and that's not how it was." Her role in "Mary Queen of Scots" aids in fighting the whitewashing of history and of film and television as a whole. She also comments on her compound racial identity, stating that she feels both Asian and British. This is especially important to members of the Asian diaspora who are stereotyped as "perpetual foreigners."

Gemma Chan's role in a period film solidifies her British identity, helping to break down the "perpetual foreigner" stereotype and assert that her being Asian does not take away from her being British. For members of the Asian diaspora, it is important to see an Asian actress in a role where she can embrace the duality of her identity rather than having to be exclusively Chinese or British. Gemma Chan's casting in "Mary Queen of Scots" has far more reach and impact beyond the issue of historical accuracy. Seeing an Asian actor in a European or American period film is very rare, and Chan's role should be celebrated for its importance to Asian representation rather than criticized for not being historically accurate.

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Dear White Boy From Expos, Do Me A Favor And Check Your Privilege

Not being accused of coming to this country to steal jobs is a privilege. Being automatically recognized as American is not a problem, it's a privilege.

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Last semester in my expos class while talking about the issue of race, a white boy in my class raised his hand and asked the professor if he would've to guess that he had (very distant) ethnic ties to other countries. He then proceeded to complain about how people automatically assume that he is merely just American rather than think he had some roots in different countries.

Well, white boy in expos, do I have some things to say to you, my friend.

Being able to walk into a restaurant in places like Utah and not being stared at as if you're a specimen that they have never seen before is a privilege. Not being asked where you're actually from is a privilege. Not being told to go back to "your country" is a privilege. Not being accused of coming to this country to steal jobs is a privilege.

Being automatically recognized as American is not a problem, it's a privilege.

I have seen many people of color put in their fullest efforts to become more "American." I've seen people change, their names to something more western to fit in. I've seen people reject their culture to fit the part of an "American." I have seen people who are embarrassed by their immigrant parents who struggle to speak English in fear that they seem less "American." I have seen people try to change the way they look to more "American."

These are struggles that as a white boy in America you will never face.

As a first generation American I can say that I have witnessed the consequences that others have faced from trying to distance themselves from their cultures. Their attempt to validate their "Americanness" has caused an irreparable amount of distance from their parents. As a child of immigrants, I have seen how important culture is for my parents. If I were to reject their culture, I would have ideally been rejecting them. The amount of pain that I would have caused my parents hurts even to imagine, but these are the great lengths that my colored skinned brothers and sisters are willing to go, white boy, to be recognized as "American," a title that was given to you on a silver platter.

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