Monday, January 28, 2013

Colour issues - Even little kids rebuke degrading words used to "describe" colour

I was stunned to read about a young girl's, Ishema Kane, aged 9, response to an article supporting the use of the word 'Neger' (which translates into 'Nigger'....let's be frank here).  The debate about the use of the word began when German Family Minister Kristina Schröder said she would personally omit words like 'Negro King' from a Pippi Longstocking story while reading to her daughter.

In response to this, German newspaper, ZEIT went on to defend using the word, in an article. When 9 year old Ishema's mother had bought the issue and given her daughter the gist of it, her response had been to cry immediately.  The following day the young girl wrote a complaint letter to the editors of the newspaper (can you believe this! A little girl at the age of 9 writing a complaint letter to a newspaper! - I certainly find that heartwarming).

Here's a copy of what she wrote (courtesy of translation to Stop Talking!)

Dear Editors,
You’re in luck that I'm at least writing this letter to you in my best handwriting because I am very angry at you. Why should it not be prohibited to write 'Neger' in children's books? One has to be able to put oneself in somebody else’s shoes. Because my father is Senegalese, and he is a very dark shade of brown; I am café-au-lait brown. Just imagine if you were Afro-German and lived in Germany. You're a newspaper reader and unsuspectingly buy the ZEIT of January 17th 2013. Suddenly, you note the article 'The Little Witch Hunt.' This is when you read that the word 'Neger' is supposed to be deleted from children's books, and that this would allegedly spoil the children's books. I find it totally shit that this word would remain in children’s books if it were up to you. You cannot imagine how I feel when I have to read or hear that word. It is simply very, very terrible. My father is not a 'Neger' [lightning bolt sign] nor am I. This is also true for all other Africans. Right. That was my opinion. This word should be deleted from children's books.
Ishema Kane, 9 1/2 years old
P.S.: You're welcome to send me a response.
[more lightning bolt signs]
This little girl has gone viral because of this letter. I would personally like to say that if I possessed the kind of boldness she is in possession of back in primary school, I would certainly have spoken up when the word was being thrown around carelessly. Being the only black girl in class, you can imagine the type of horror to hear not only pupils throw the word around, but teachers also. I certainly knew I was not a 'Nigger', but they seemed to believe I was. Whenever I would speak up about it, like once when I'd been in an argument with a "friend" and she had thrown the word at me, they would say something like "Oh, but it's just a word that describes your colour. It's what you are". A middle finger and a half to you!!!! We need more people like Ishema!