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Monday, December 19, 2016

What "Reclaiming" Means

Since I would like to post more about social justice and I'm not sure how much of the common terminology all my readers know, I'm going to clarify some things in the next few weeks.

Reclaiming is taking something used against a group of people society has put at a disadvantage and using it in a way that puts it in a neutral or even positive context for those same people.

For this post, I'll be talking specifically about reclaiming slurs.

Not everyone does it, or wants to. But for lots of people, it's a way of saying "Yes, I'm X, what's the problem?" and giving the people and systems that limit you the finger.

Here are some examples.

-LGBTQIA+ people sometimes refer to themselves as "queer" (that's what the Q stands for).*
-Pink triangles, originally used by the Nazis to mark gay people in concentration camps, are now used as a pride symbol.
-The racist term "c*lored" has been reclaimed so that non-white people are collectively referred to as "people of color".**

Finally, note that you can reclaim a slur only if you are a member of the group it is meant to insult or attack. This is why, for example, black people can say the N-word, but white people (or non-black people of color) cannot.

*It also stands for "questioning", which describes anyone who thinks they might be another part of the acronym, but hasn't figured out what yet.

**Incidentally, that blog is great if you want to make your writing more racially diverse but aren't sure how to handle things.

© 2016 by M.R.R.


Sheena-kay Graham said...

I'm black and still not a fan of the 'N' word at all. I don't see Jamaicans using that word much if at all. Thank God. It is interesting how people can reclaim certain words. But then again sometimes it is reclaimed by a subset of said group. Like me being black but still 100% against the 'N' word some other black people have reclaimed. Interesting post and thoughts.

M.R. R. said...

@ Sheena-kay Graham
Thanks, both for stopping by and chipping in.