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Socially Constructed IDs's picture
Marginalized identities are socially constructed… 
I really loved how this reading touched on how marginalized identities can be constructed in America. It pointed out how language can be used to further other-ize identities that do not fit the “norm” and consequently, solidify the boundaries of whiteness in America. It explained how everyday language could be used to construct these identities, thus showing the true power of language.
Often times language can shape identities when synonyms are used to generally describe a topic or identity. For example, words like; ghetto, urban, ratchet, thugs, etc. all words that derive from descriptions of “stereotypical” predominantly black inner city communities. One could easily use one of these synonyms to describe someone or something without having to explicitly address the implicit meanings behind their words. I find these implicit synonyms more detrimental than the actual words that are not being said, because they perpetuate implicit prejudices. Implicit prejudices are covert, and are sometimes unconscious prejudgements, but they are hard to confront because of its latent nature. 
The reading talks about how the term “illegal” is a word used to describe criminal and deviant acts, and is also a word used to describe an undocumented person living in America. The act of calling someone illegal is dehumanizing in itself, and yet it is a word used to describe millions of people living in the country today…
I constantly think about how the connotations (positive or negative) behind the words that I use daily can have an effect on the way I perceive the person/thing that I am describing.


ckennedy's picture

This reminded me of the Richard Sherman (football player for the Seahawks) incident and how he was called a 'thug' after his reaction post-game. He was excited about his performance yet labeled to be basically less than. Sherman later spoke on how thug is the new, "appropriate way" to say the N word. I think this fits it with your ideas of words being used as synonyms implicitly.'s picture

I was thinking about incidents like this too! I also think about when people use terms like "urban" to desribe white pop artist who portray characteristics typically associated with stereotypical “black” culture. I feel like in those contexts, urban is just another word for black.