Language Discourse and Power

   The Linguistics of Racism


      Slideshow by Rachel Dow
Rationale	

Two texts
Conversation between myself and African American friend
Newspaper article
Racism is very prevalent i...
Text One
Conversation between me and an African American friend...
Rach: How do you feel about people using the word Nigge...
What is Racism?
It is based on a construction of groups who are attributed specific
characteristics or traits such as biolo...
Information about Racism
It is something that moves with the times and can be manifested in
different ways, such as acts o...
Derogatory Ethnic Labels (DELs)

Harmon and Wilson (2006, p. 81) state that DELs encourage the categorization of people
wh...
The ‘N’ Word
By 1837 Hosea Easton described Nigger as “an opprobrious term,
employed to impose contempt upon blacks as an ...
Self-labelling
Matt states that the use of the word Nigger by other African
Americans can’t really be construed as racist ...
Reifying Difference
Well-known actor and comedian makes racist remarks in stand
up comedy routine, using the ‘N’ word enth...
Otherising
Holliday et al (2004, p. 180) defines otherisation as “The process we
undertake in ascribing identity to the sel...
Denial
Racism has negative connotations placed upon it, so denial is a
common characteristic of racist people.
Richards sa...
Conclusion

Racist Language, particularly the use of the DEL ‘N’ word, is only
acceptable as a form of self-labelling
It c...
References
Bonilla-Silva, E. (2006). Racism without racists: Colour-blind racism and the persistence of
racial inequality ...
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Racism Slideshow A3 2

  1. 1. Language Discourse and Power The Linguistics of Racism Slideshow by Rachel Dow
  2. 2. Rationale Two texts Conversation between myself and African American friend Newspaper article Racism is very prevalent in our society Linguistic Features
  3. 3. Text One Conversation between me and an African American friend... Rach: How do you feel about people using the word Nigger? Matt: I think that only Niggers (laughs) can use it and only when they are speaking to people they know. It can still be offensive and insulting when a black person calls another black person a Nigger if he uses it in that sort of way, but there’s just something a bit worse about a white person saying it. However, it is funny when some of my white mates say it to me as a joke but they’d never do it to anyone else or in public. I think it is a word that should just never be thrown around lightly but it can also be funny on movies when you hear two black guys calling each other Nigger, like on the movie White Chicks. I do know some Black people that find it really derogatory no matter who is saying it or who they are saying it to, to them it is just really offensive but I don’t really have too much of a problem with it unless someone says it to me in a really insulting way, trying to upset me or something. I think any word or name can be offensive or insulting if it’s being used in that way though. LIke if someone said to you “You’re just a stupid white girl, you don’t know nothing”. That makes the word white sound bad, just as if someone said “You stupid Nigger”.
  4. 4. What is Racism? It is based on a construction of groups who are attributed specific characteristics or traits such as biological features, appearances, cultural practices and traditions, language and customs. A social system of domination, one group having power over another because of ethnicity or race. Racism and power are closely linked in a hegemonic realtionship (Study Guide, Unit 6, 2009, pp. 1-2)
  5. 5. Information about Racism It is something that moves with the times and can be manifested in different ways, such as acts of violence, verbal abuse, neglect and social discrimination and exclusion. It can come from many sources such as TV, magazines, newspapers, radio, peers, internet, and so on. However, the struggle between racism and power seems to be the main cause of racism worldwide.
  6. 6. Derogatory Ethnic Labels (DELs) Harmon and Wilson (2006, p. 81) state that DELs encourage the categorization of people which directs and focuses the hatred of those people. They stereotype negative beliefs associated with the out-group and can be used to provoke, threaten, ridicule, and convey certain feelings towards the out-group. They can be used to make the person who is using them feel good about themselves and their dominant group. A common DEL is Nigger, derived from the Latin word for black, Niger, and used to describe the race of African Americans. It is also the focus of the two selected texts.
  7. 7. The ‘N’ Word By 1837 Hosea Easton described Nigger as “an opprobrious term, employed to impose contempt upon blacks as an inferior race...” (as cited in Study Guide, Unit 6, 2009, p. 12). However, over the 20th century, the word became more and more condemned as a term of abuse. The ‘N’ word also describes a race, which is the product of the language that it is used about, and is a distinct category of human being defined by physical characteristics - in this case, skin colour.
  8. 8. Self-labelling Matt states that the use of the word Nigger by other African Americans can’t really be construed as racist as when it is being used by a European. This claim can also be backed up by rapper Ice-T (in Kennedy, 2002, p. 51 cited in Study Guide, Unit 6, 2009, p. 12). They both say that it is ok when used as self-labelling. However, this is not the view of all African Americans as some see its use to be inappropriate.
  9. 9. Reifying Difference Well-known actor and comedian makes racist remarks in stand up comedy routine, using the ‘N’ word enthusiastically. This creates a power division between himself and his audience, reifying their ethnic and cultural differences. He also makes references to African Americans being victims of Civil rights abuse and taunts them with racist comments profanities.
  10. 10. Otherising Holliday et al (2004, p. 180) defines otherisation as “The process we undertake in ascribing identity to the self through the often negative attribution of characteristics to the other” As language is a medium of power and used to oppress power relations, Richards uses his words to oppress and otherise his audience who are angering him. Uses the pronouns ‘you’ and ‘your’ to divide and otherise the African Americans from himself Creates a difference between the self and other, as well as a source of power.
  11. 11. Denial Racism has negative connotations placed upon it, so denial is a common characteristic of racist people. Richards says “I am not racist...” clearly displaying denial as a notion of post-civil rights racial discourse (Bonilla-Silva, 2006), which prohibits the open expressions of racist views. This form of denial is known as the ultimate strategy of self- presentation
  12. 12. Conclusion Racist Language, particularly the use of the DEL ‘N’ word, is only acceptable as a form of self-labelling It causes and reifies ethnic differences It otherises the out-group It creates power struggles and differences
  13. 13. References Bonilla-Silva, E. (2006). Racism without racists: Colour-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States (2nd ed.). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Harmon, M.R., & Wilson, M.J. (2006). Beyond Grammar: Language, power and the classroom. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence and Erlbaum Associates. Holliday, A., Hyde, M., & Kullman, J. (2004). Intercultural communication: An advanced resource book. London: Routledge Manawatu Standard. (2006, 22 November). ‘N’ word lands comic in hot water. Manawatu Standard, p. 11. Study Guide. (2009). Study Guide for Language, Discourse, and Power, Unit 6. Massey University, School of Language Studies.
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