Janet Mock on the Power of Words

“Words are things,” Dr. Maya Angelou said during her 2011 Master’s Class on the Oprah Winfrey Network. “You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives and all that ignorance. Don’t do that. Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally in to you. — Janet Mock

In this reflection, Mock explores the bigger picture: not just the dust-up, the slurs, and the script of Offense-MediaOutrage-I’mSorryIfYouWereOffended. She also raises the systemic questions about “selective outrage,” how some people’s social location and influence makes it easier for us to excuse their actions, and what it means to be a critical consumer.

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