June 25, 2017, Bellemont, AZ-
We’ve undergone a wealth of name-changes, relative to how people see various groups, into which we classify ourselves, and others, since the early 1960’s. It’s almost become so that many are almost paralyzed, when it come sot referencing people who “fall into categories of ‘the other’.”
I’ve spent the past 48 hours at a Baha’i camp, 1 1/2 miles west of this small village, itself 12 miles west of Flagstaff. Several new friends, of different ages, were made, as is always the case. One beautiful family of seven is “racially-blended”, if we are to believe the doctrine of political correctness. The father of this family was one of the presenters at our Summer School. He addressed racial identity and political correctness. He is not a fan of P.C., insofar as it allows us to dance around the subject of racial relations.
When I was growing up, my parents told us never to use racial, ethnic, or sexual epithets. I was taught to address people by the name which they used to introduce themselves. It was fine to call a person of colour a Negro, until people of colour themselves preferred Black, then African-American. Using the pejorative form of Negro would have earned me an oral cleansing, and not with candy-flavoured mouth wash.
We Baha’is believe, as one of the central tenets of our Faith, that there is, as Baha’u’llah wrote. “but one race, the human race.” Having said that, it is NOT WRONG, to stand firm against discrimination of any kind. This runs the gamut- from denying people their basic human rights, based on pigmentation, height, gender, change of gender, economic status, or personal creed/religion. It is also imperative to acknowledge someone’s basic goodness, in any area of endeavour or character feature.
“One race, the human race”, does not exclude people of colour, people of intense faith, people who hail from desert wastes or from an urban wasteland, who eat mainly fast food or who eat raw food. It safeguards the human rights of people who adhere to our Faith, to previously-revealed Faiths or to no Faith at all.
So, political correctness has its limits. These are tantamount to over-tightening a nut, on a wheel. The nut becomes stripped, useless. Not being able to describe a person, in terms perfectly acceptable to that individual and her peers, is a paralysis of denial. My new African-American friend, his European-American wife, their four creative, lovely daughters and vibrant, disabled son should never have to endure the embarrassment of having to watch as someone, who claims to be their well-wisher, is tongue-tied, when it comes to describing any of them, to someone else.
This weekend was time well-spent.