I have a confession to make. Brace yourself it was a little shocking for even me to find out that……………..
…………………………I am a racist coffee drinker.
There I said it. I don’t know how it happened but my choice of coffee didn’t sit well with people I work with.
Racist, was a powerful word that implied one who supports racism as in actual race. It had once been so horrifying that it triggered hateful reactions and changed the course of many lives, now it has been reduced to nothing more than a mere way of saying favoritism, partiality or dislike.
How this enlightenment came to me? Oddly by the coffee I choose to drink.
I was making a cup of Joe, when I was offered a chance to try the chicory flavored coffee. My response to the offer was “no thank you, I do not care for chicory coffee”.
The young woman at work who offered me the thickly heavy brew said “Well that’s just racist”
Floored I asked her what she meant. “You do not like my coffee, that’s racist.” As she giggled at me.
“The coffee has feelings? I offended the java in your cup?” As I waited for Juan Valdez to show up with his donkey to take my coffee cup from me. I looked at her and added “Or is the chicory upset over the fact I don’t like the taste?” I was truly puzzled at how the coffee was disturbed that I didn’t care for the flavor.
“No, silly it means you want everybody to like what you like?” She said laughing.
“It does? I just don’t like the taste. I don’t expect everybody to like how I drink coffee, isn’t that up to individual preference?” She was full blown laughing now.
“Oh you are putting way to much thought into this. Just drink YOUR coffee. You are too funny.” Her chuckling back to her desk starting a thought process I couldn’t let go of.
Truthfully, I was starting to feel the chicory coffee was out to get me. Or was I just mortified over the casual use of racist? When did I lose sight of the whole change of meaning?
It had created such a loss for me, that I googled racist. Strange as it seems, something popped up that I didn’t expect to see. There is actually a YouTube video called Racist Coffee (click here).
My thought is this; when words lose their meaning it can have an impact on those of us who didn’t get the memo. Simply put, bad isn’t always bad and good doesn’t always mean good. If something is really cool or if a great moment happens it can be called bad.
Sitting in my office with my boss and he mentions that my team did a good job tends to mean we could have done better. Good isn’t always good enough. Are you with me so far?
Where am I going with this? Good question. I can not help but think that the frequent overuse of words that once had a severe impact and could literally cause families to fight at the table, companies to fold and governments to go to war could be reduced to such casual usage. By not refraining from some words tends to dim the impact and these certain words once held the power to destroy a reputation and banish a person from their homeland.
Same holds true with words that could elevate someone to a higher position or status, that may or may not be deserving. Still it is worth pondering isn’t it?
Alas, over time these words drifted in to a cesspool of misinterpretation, overuse and perhaps comical soliloquies that much like the economy have been downgraded, on the list of words that should not be said. Sounds like Harry Potter, huh? How about words such whore, pimp, liberal, conservative, communist, progressive, and finally rights, what do these words actually say anymore that people take seriously as a whole?
Al Gore in an interview told the young interviewer and I am paraphrasing here that “racist doesn’t mean to you what it once meant in my time.”
For that matter Global Warming (pay attention Al) was upgraded. When I was a kid it meant quit using aerosol hairspray.
The pen is mightier than the sword, only if the impact is imminent and the word is designed to have effect. How will it continue if words that should not be said (or taken for granted) are tossed around and misused because no one today understands the severity in which they are speaking, it soon becomes a joke and ranted fodder until someone takes it to another level, perhaps even the original level and many are hurt by their own ignorance.
That said take the word liberty. While looking up this 14th century Middle English noun, I found liberty to mean freedom to be an individual. This individualism allows independent thought; The right to think and speak – according to choice – without interference.
It is the power to do the right thing without causing harm. Freedom to speak without repression while not harming others and the freedom to fail and learn by it. I did not see where it stated anything about entitlements or guarantees because those are not free. As some may think they are.
Those who lessen the value of people and words are usually the ones most afraid of those people and words. For now, I guess I’m just another racist coffee drinker. Perhaps there are more confessions to come…….
Sorry it has been awhile since my last post. Life gets crazy and I had no room to take any liberty from work.
I may just try next time to squeeze in the word innocuous it couldn’t hurt.
Be well and pick your battles wisely,