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Cultural Sensitivity and Language (Essay Sample)


Based on Amoja Three Rivers' "Cultural Etiquette," Lynette Clemetson's "The Racial Politics of Speaking Well" and your own observations and experience, do some prewriting and plan an essay dealing with issues of cultural sensitivity and language use. Craft an effective thesis statement, but do not actually write the essay yet. (You will submit an expanded form of the essay, incorporating additional texts, next week.)
Based on Natasha Spring's "Freedom of Speech vs. Politically Correct Language" and John Leo's "Free Inquiry? Not On Campus," revise and expand your previous essay on cultural sensitivity and language use. Your revised essay (on all four texts) need not radically shift its focus or perspective on the issues (though it can), but it should meaningfully incorporate ideas and challenges from the two new readings into its discussion of the underlying issues. Use specific details from the texts to support and illustrate your observations, being sure to use quotation marks when including an author's words.


Your Name
Subject and Section
Professor’s Name
Cultural Sensitivity and Language
Racism has always been a part of American history. From the time when Columbus first came here and even until the present day, such phenomenon has been present in the very constructs of our existence. However, the evolution of society through time has created a change in its form from blatant acts of slavery to subtle modes of systemic racism. This made it harder for us to detect how racism works and how it influences our thinking. In an article written by Clemetson, entitled The Racial Politics of Speaking Well, she noted how the seemingly mundane use of the word “articulate” could show ideas of racial notions deeply rooted in the nation’s history. However, what makes the issue more interesting to study is that such usages are not actively done to promote racist notions of thinking or even derogate others. Rather, these are persistent modes of thinking that is rooted in our history, which makes people like us use such words unconsciously. In line with this, this article would focus on understanding how racism persists in our common-day language. It would include the subtle stereotypes and contexts, that we unconsciously use, showing how racism persists in our minds. In the subsequent sections of this article, I would also discuss how this “unconscious usage” relates to the commonly debated concepts of cultural etiquette and politically correct language. Taking all of these into consideration, I believe that by understanding how systemic racism persists through our use of words, a better understanding of how we can reduce its persistence could be gained.
The Difficulty with Racist Remarks
These days, one of the most debated issues is about how racism exists within the system and thereby outside of our own will. An example of what we call as ‘systemic racism’ can be found from our own stereotypes and prejudices to legally instituted processes, such as Affirmative action. However, what makes systemic racism more difficult to address is because it’s usage is difficult to detect in the first place. One example of this could be seen in the article written by Clemetson. In her article, she discussed how the seemingly mundane use of the word “articulate” can mean differently when used depending on contexts as well as its frequency. When used to describe “Blacks,” articulate can become more of a racist remark rather than a compliment. It suggests that the person who is being given the comment is ‘articulate enough’ relative to other African-Americans, that is indeed worthy of recognition and applause. However, Clemetson noted that what made this subtle stereotypical use of the word more apparent is the difference between how ‘Whites’ and ‘Blacks’ use it. On the one hand, both whites and blacks are found not to use the words when describing to the latter, which suggests that it is just average for White Americans to be articulate enough. On the other hand, however, such a compliment seems to persist when referring to Black Americans which seems to suggest that being articulate is not a common trait for them.
However, as stated previously, these usages do not mean that people actively want to perpetuate racism both internally and externally. As discussed in the book of Rivers, “even those with the best of intentions will display bad cultural manners. This does not necessarily mean one is a bad person. Sometimes people just don't know any better”. This quote also provides additional evidence to the fact that a significant ch

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