Today: Jun 16, 2024

Implications of the word ‘racist’ in conversation

Jose VegaContributor

The quickest way to stop a productive civil conversation between college students sharing different political opinions is to call someone racist. 

Given everything that has happened within the last five years including the 2016 elections, institutional injustice, and the COVID-19 pandemic, it is fair to say politics is now a common topic of conversation. 

Whether it is a random conversation among peers or over family dinner, politics will eventually come up as a topic to talk about.  

Everyone can see the next big Twitter news headline right in the palm of their hand and become “knowledgeable” about a subject in minutes. However, does that quick bit of information give a person the right to make consequential statements towards other people? 

It doesn’t matter where you get your news from, or how knowledgeable someone thinks they are about a specific issue. The first step is to educate yourself, but the next step is to have respectful conversations about these those controversial topics. 

 The university being a public institution would be the perfect place to have these conversations. Except when a student here is faced with a terrifying situation, yourself or someone else disagrees. 

This now has transformed into civil discourse among peers, with all parties involved helping to educate the other about a different perspective on an issue. 

As with most political conversations, your conversation will most likely turn more personal or emotional as you keep conversing. Then in a split moment through their emotions, someone says the word, racist. 

It isn’t describing a law or action taken by a politician, it is directed firmly at one person in the argument. This immediately stops any essence of civil discourse you had and would not allow you to get back to the issue at hand. 

It isn’t because the person who used the word is backed into a corner and cannot come up with a logical argument. Neither is it because the person who was called it heard this and immediately felt overwhelmed with emotions they had to resort to name-calling as well. 

The civil discourse ended when such a pointed word like ‘racist’ was thrown into the discussion. The word symbolizes a dangerous unproductive route that sadly, conversations about politics tend to take.  

Well thought out ideas turn into short ‘I am right and you are wrong statements’, and the listening to different perspectives turn into the complete blocking of new information on both sides.  

Many people disagree with one another on a daily basis, even at the most fundamental level. However,  the ability to stop and listen is a skill that should be pushed to the forefront if the university truly wants to aid its student’s professional development. 

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