Why We Can't Afford Not To Be Politically Correct

Why We Can't Afford Not To Be Politically Correct

Perhaps we should replace "politically correct" with "personally correct."

There has been a lot of talk in this election cycle about “political correctness” and its damage to society. Mr. Trump claimed in his response to the mass shooting in Orlando that “we can’t afford to have political correctness anymore.” I don’t want this to be another one of my political pieces, but I think this is something much bigger than the election, something that affects our lives day-to-day. Political correctness isn’t a just a practice for pandering to constituents; it’s an important choice in our vocabulary that helps to shape our world.

Oxford Dictionaries define “political correctness” as “the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against”. It is this connotation of “often considered as taken to extremes” that causes problems for many Americans. They see certain language as fake, a way to avoid taking real positions, a ploy to avoid alienating voters. But if we ignore that connotation and look at the rest of the definition, we see something we should all be able to get behind, avoiding terms that “exclude, marginalize, or insult” people.

Communication scholars W.B. Pearce and V. Cronen theorize that communication is fundamentally the “coordinated management of meaning”. John Stewart describes in his communication textbook "Together" the “worlds of meaning” each person forms from their communication. The Pygmalion Effect is a communication scholar’s name for a “self-fulfilling prophesy”: ascribing an identity or a characteristic of a person may cause them to assume that identity. Even casual words and actions have this effect. Clearly, communication is much more powerful than you may think in forming the world we live in.

An advertisement from 1953 helps illustrate this ideal. Featured on Purple Clover’s “13 Stunningly Sexist Ads from the Fifties”, the advertisement for Del Monte Ketchup shows a woman with a surprised look on her face holding a bottle of ketchup and looking as if she’s about to open the bottle. The caption reads “You mean a woman can open it? Easily- without a knife blade, a bottle opener, or even a husband!” This language functions to support the idea in society that women are weak and dependent on their husbands all from the language.

The same thing is true of communication today. When Donald Trump said in the second presidential debate that “African Americans and Hispanics are living in hell,” “you walk down the street and you get shot,” and “African American communities are being decimated by crime,” he is perpetuating stereotypes that African American people and communities are dangerous. These generalizations prove to support stereotypes that may lead to the Pygmalion Effect, and at the very least support judgment across our nation. This judgment may lead to fewer options for African Americans. It also encourages practices like “Stop and Frisk” implicitly, although Trump made sure to make that point explicitly as well. The same thing is to be said by demonizing refugees, Arabs, and Mexicans.

The problem is also true when we are talking to one another about LGBTQ individuals or people with disabilities or any race or gender. We can’t afford not to have political correctness because we can’t afford to have a world of hate, discrimination, and fear.

Cover Image Credit: Creative Commons

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8 Struggles Of Being 21 And Looking 12

The struggle is real, my friends.

“You'll appreciate it when you're older." Do you know how many times my mom has told me this? Too many to count. Every time I complain about looking young that is the response I get. I know she's right, I will love looking young when I'm in my 40s. However, looking young is a real struggle in your 20s. Here's what we have to deal with:

1. Everyone thinks your younger sister or brother is the older one.

True story: someone actually thought my younger sister was my mom once. I've really gotten used to this but it still sucks.

2. You ALWAYS get carded.

Every. Single. Time. Since I know I look young, I never even bothered with a fake ID my first couple of years of college because I knew it would never work. If I'm being completely honest, I was nervous when I turned 21 that the bartender would think my real driver's license was a fake.

3. People look at your driver's license for an awkward amount of time.

So no one has actually thought my real driver's license is fake but that doesn't stop them from doing a double take and giving me *that look.* The look that says, “Wow, you don't look that old." And sometimes people will just flat out say that. The best part is this doesn't just happen when you're purchasing alcohol. This has happened to me at the movie theater.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things People Who Look 12 Hate Hearing

4. People will give you *that look* when they see you drinking alcohol.

You just want to turn around and scream “I'M 21, IT'S LEGAL. STOP JUDGING ME."

5. People are shocked to find out you're in college.

If I had a dollar for every time someone had a shocked expression on their face after I told them I'm a junior in college I could pay off all of my student loan debt. It's funny because when random people ask me how school is going, I pretty much assume they think I'm in high school and the shocked look on their face when I start to talk about my college classes confirms I'm right.

6. For some reason wearing your hair in a ponytail makes you look younger.

I don't understand this one but it's true. Especially if I don't have any makeup on I could honestly pass for a child.

7. Meeting an actual 12-year-old who looks older than you.

We all know one. That random 12-year-old who looks extremely mature for her age and you get angry because life isn't fair.

8. Being handed a kids' menu.

This is my personal favorite. It happens more often than it should. The best part of this is it's your turn to give someone a look. The look that says, "You've got to be kidding me".

Looking young is a real struggle and I don't think everyone realizes it. However, with all the struggles that come with looking young, we still take advantage of it. Have you ever gone to a museum or event where if you're under a certain age you get in for a discounted price? Yeah? Well, that's when I bet you wish you were us. And kids' meals are way cheaper than regular meals so there have definitely been a couple times when I've kept that kids' menu.

So, all in all, it's not the worst thing in the world but it's definitely a struggle.

Cover Image Credit: Jenna Collins

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The 2020 Race Is Feeling The Bern

Everything you need to know about Bernie Sanders entering the presidential race.


This morning, February 19, 2019, Brooklyn-born Bernie Sanders announced he is running for president once again.

Unlike his run in 2016, though, Sanders now joins a crowded field of progressive candidates, one of which is Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

In Sanders's own words, this campaign is "about taking on the powerful special interests that dominate our economic and political life". Sanders went on to say that this is a "pivotal and dangerous moment in American history," and "We are running against a President who is a pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction".

In his interview with CBS, Sanders explained that it is "absolutely imperative that Donald Trump be defeated", and described candidates whom he is running alongside as his "friends".

Regarding policy issues, his focus remains the same as in previous years, planning to focus largely on women's reproductive rights, lower prices for prescription drugs, and criminal justice reform.

Sanders is also widely recognized because of his goal of universal healthcare. His Medicare-for-all bill that was drafted in 2017 outlines the establishment of a "national health insurance program to provide comprehensive protection against the costs of health-care and health-related services". According to estimates, however, such a plan would increase federal spending by $2.5 trillion a year.

When it comes to education, Sanders plans to make preschool for all 4-year-olds free, aiming to fund this plan through tax increases on the wealthy as well as Wall Street transactions.

More widely acknowledged is his "College For All Act", which would provide $47 billion a year to states in order to eliminate undergraduate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities. Additionally, the act would cut student loan interest rates nearly in half for undergrads.

In terms of social issues, Sanders is pro-choice when it comes to abortion rights and opposes policies which discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, such as Trump's push to ban transgender people from the military.

The New York Times discusses the idea that the political field of the 2020 run might leave Sanders a "victim of his own success", in that the multitude of Democratic candidates are embracing policies which Sanders championed in the last race.

"Ironically, Bernie's agenda for working families will be the Democratic Party's message in 2020, but he may not be the one leading the parade," said talk show host Bill Press.

Moreover, victories by women, minorities, and first-time candidates in the 2018 midterm elections suggest that "fresh energy" is preferred by Democrats, which potentially poses a challenge for Sanders.

Conversely, though, Sanders is also starting off with certain advantages, such as a "massive lead among low-dollar donors that is roughly equivalent to the donor base of all the other Democratic hopefuls combined".

Donald Trump responded to Sanders's announcement by saying, "First of all I think he missed his time, but... I like Bernie. He sort of would agree on trade... the problem is he doesn't know what to do about it. But I wish Bernie well."

By and large, Sanders is another strong candidate, and it will be interesting to see if he can generate the same energy and support now that he did in 2016.

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