The Power of Our Words
It happened. Again. Hip-hop artist Kanye West has inserted his foot into his mouth. In a recent interview with TMZ, the artist is quoted as saying that “slavery was a choice.” The video went viral and ever since then, the floodgates of commentary and memes have not stopped flowing. Perhaps that was Kanye’s intention; to create buzz or start a conversation. He wouldn’t be the first celebrity guilty of stirring up buzz to boost his own star potential. And while that “shine” may elevate one star’s ego, what’s the overarching impact of the “shade”?
The world is ever evolving; technology has changed the way we communicate with one another. At the basic level, conversation is about actively engaging at least one other person in a dialogue. In this new era of technology, we have all of these innovative ways to have a “conversation.” We “post” on social media and await a reply and “Like” from our friends. We “tweet” our thoughts and opinions and our followers “retweet” our words or tweet back a response. And it is not uncommon to have a lengthy conversation by way of text, using a form of abbreviated, contrived words and emojis to express ourselves. Whatever method we choose to spark a conversation, be it private or public, we have a purposeful and intentional way of communicating with one another and the world at large. Words not only have meaning, but they also have power and with that power comes a responsibility on the part of the speaker. It’s irresponsible and a misuse of power when we are careless with our words and not thoughtful about the impact of our words on others. I like to think of words as a form of art. We can take words and creatively craft them to uplift, celebrate, encourage and inspire. Or we can use words to condemn, hurt, confuse and alienate people. And it’s easy to say that it was never our intent to use words to the detriment of others, but we must rise to the level of consciously considering the impact of our words on others. Words are a gift to be shared with others. But what’s the point of sharing a gift if that gift has no purpose? Would you want to receive a gift that you could find no purpose for? Think about all of the conversations had in one day; conversations you choose to participate in, conversations you overhear, conversations you initiate and conversations you are drawn into. That’s a lot of conversations! How do you want to impact the conversation? Do you want to elevate or do you want to detonate the conversation?
We’re at a critical moment in our country; the tide is rising and we can’t afford to leave anyone behind. We need everyone’s voice to be heard, especially parents. At Be Strong Families there’s room at the table for everyone to have their say. If you think about it, parents and celebrities have something in common; celebrities spend a lifetime honing their skills to create something beautiful and deeply personal to share with the world- their artistry. As parents, we spend a lifetime molding and shaping the hearts and minds of our children; they are our beautiful gift to the world. And the words we say to our children matter; our words have the power to determine our children’s trajectory; who they’re going to be in the world and how they’ll navigate. Our words matter. We’re all artists; together we are trying to create a more perfect union where everyone’s issues and community and words matter. What words do you have to share? Do you want to elevate or detonate? It all begins with a conversation.
Article by Dena Chapman, More Perfect Union Team Lead and Field Support Specialist