A More Inclusive Vocabulary (in Baby Steps)

Trigger warning for everyday examples of ableist language.

Yesterday, I talked about abelist language in the media and in national conversation. It’s time to bring it back home a bit.

In my journey toward a more intersectional feminism, I’ve been going through various inventories of my vocabulary. I took note of the gender stereotypes I was using in my classroom. I eliminated body talk from my conversations. I stopped when I caught myself engaging in slut-shaming, tone-policing, respectability-politics, and other forms of hyphenated internalized patriarchy.

In my journey toward anti-racist allyship, I’ve been learning a thing or twelve about language and power. I’ve read about labels and self-identification. About white privilege and Eurocentrism. I’ve learned that I need to listen more than I need to talk, and to listen especially when it’s about the way I talk.

Expunging ableism from my everyday conversations? That’s turning out to be a much more challenging task than I anticipated. I work in special education. I have been involved in the Deaf community for over a decade. I’ve had trainings on people-first language. I talk to people about their use of the r-word as a pejorative. I thought I had it all figured out.

Then I started listening to the way I speak:
That’s lame. I use 50 SPF because I’m almost albino. I’m such a spaz. Man, that is so dumb.

Rude Awakening, party of one? Your table is ready.


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