Political correctness is so much reviled. There do seem to be some idiotic views, but there are also some urban myths. I was never once in my teaching career told to call a blackboard a chalkboard. They were mostly green anyway and have largely been replaced by interactive whiteboards. (Hang on……)
Correct use of language is however important. I honestly do try to watch how I use language in controversial areas. Certainly I am always going to fail in my own eyes, because of background and experiences.
Consider my grandmother. I may write something specifically about her at a later date, but there is no doubt that in modern terms she was a racist. I would not even repeat in print some of the things she said. Oddly enough, she was subject to racial taunts herself as a child in turn of the century Brighton, because her grandmother was of Italian (or possibly Romany) origin.
She was, I am sure, completely unaware of any bias. This was the common language of her time. I have tried to overcome this attitude. My own experiences haven’t made this easy. Racist language, songs and rhymes were still very common in 1960s playgrounds in Sussex. I didn’t talk to anybody of any racial origin except for white Anglo Saxon (if that’s still the right term) until I was 19. I have always lived in very ‘white’ areas (if I’m allowed to say that.) Probably 99% of my lifetime interactions have been with white Anglo Saxons. This inevitably affects one’s outlook.
I do my best, but I am always very conscious of how awkward I can be. I sometimes think that people of my generation are bound to fail, and I can think of at least one occasional reader of my blog who will take issue with me over saying that. I hope my children, who seem totally unconcerned by race, will do better.
(I neglected to put this picture in when I first posted this. It is a street in Brighton very similar to my grandmother’s…. Though now much more affluent.)