Maija McManus

Claire Belanger: The Significance of Language in Our Current Political Climate

Maija McManus
Claire Belanger: The Significance of Language in Our Current Political Climate

It is an unnerving time to be marginalized in America, that is certain. The leader of our country regularly spouts off hateful, divisive rhetoric and his supporters echo this in their own lives and communities. We have seen this manifest in many ways: in the rise of hate crimes since the 2016 election, the re-emergence of vocal and violent white nationalists, and in the consistent failure of notable public officials to condemn bigotry, to name just a few.

Although we have some admirable power figures fighting against narratives of hate on the front lines, it is important to remember the influence we communicators can have on a small scale in our own communities.

Media today functions as a primary means of socialization for people, be it a physical newspaper, a social media platform, or a TV program. It is our responsibility to make sure we are presenting information with a sensitivity that our current administration won’t provide. We owe it to audiences who are being repeatedly marginalized in policy meetings and in offhand tweets. The care and empathy with which we discuss sensitive subjects resonates with readers; it really matters.

Recent studies show that the more frequently one is exposed to prejudicial and hateful narratives, the more desensitized they are to it and the more influenced they end up being by this speech. We must use our influence to address this however we can. Yes, proper terminology can be hard to keep up with and often changes monthly but if doing so means we are combatting the dangerous narratives being spread through the media it is absolutely worth it.

So next time you’re talking about Melnea Cass Boulevard try “Recovery Road” instead of “Methadone Mile”; we owe it to our fellow citizens to make up for some of the many steps back we have taken under this administration.