The Center for Multicultural Education put on a presentation last Tuesday for students to learn about offensive phrases, and what you can say instead.
In today’s society, freedom of speech is promoted heavily, but those who have been offended by that right feel that some people abuse the amendment. Many people’s opinions can often be misconstrued or taken offensively, so it is sometimes difficult to know what not to say in serious situations.
“We’re having this presentation so that both sides know, hey, here’s what this phrase means, here’s what it’s impact and here’s what you should probably say instead,” Director of CME, Latoya FitzPatrick, said.
The idea of this presentation was based of the book, “35 Dumb Things Well Intended People Say” written by Dr. Maura Cullen. Only ten core concepts from the book were covered in the presentation and several different phrases were included in a group activity. Some of the phrases included, “Some of my best friends are. . .What are you?” Or “where are you really from?” and “It was only a joke, don’t take things so seriously.”
“A lot of concepts were looked into. Not just racism. They actually looked into racial affiliations and also international students. We looked into all of these aspects and sectors, and looked deeply into how things can actually offend other people. I think that’s what makes this presentation special,” Dianah Hidzir said.
The room was split into groups of two, and everyone got a chance to participate in learning offensive phrases, what the intention of the phrase was, the impact it had and what phrase should’ve been used instead.
This opened up a heated discussion of how people perceive things differently in regards to race, gender and sexuality. The group activity made it clear that students should think about what they say before they say it.
“I learned that when people are saying these things they really have good intentions, but it doesn’t turn out that way. It really depends on if the person is saying these things on purpose and it depends on the situation. After being here, I realized that I have said some of these things to people, but my intentions were not bad. I always have good intentions,” senior Daisy Miller said, who attended the presentation.
During the presentation, students voice how things that are offensive can sometimes be swept under the rug, and the person is often not held accountable. The presentation encourages students to recognize such phrases and educate their fellow peers, classmates, co-workers or even friends on how to say things with what we call a “filter”.
“At the end of the day we all make mistakes but what really matters is what we do after we make those mistakes,” FitzPatrick said.