Words do hurt and their damage is usually irreparable (Image via Pluska)
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Words do hurt and their damage is usually irreparable (Image via Pluska)

A list and explanation of words you shouldn’t be saying and why you shouldn’t be saying them.

Imagine the person you are, the one you want to become and the best version of yourself that you can think of. How do you want to be remembered? If fatality came to your doorstep, how would others remember you?

Your interactions with people may appear quite short-lived considering the many years that your life will span, but it is your actions today that will shape what your legacy will be. Your behavior, mindset and, more importantly, words will determine how you and others see you.

Contrary to popular belief, what other people think about you does matter. No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who consistently vocalizes negative ideas that ultimately lead to the disparagement of themselves and people around them.

Words have the power to change lives, but when used wrongly, they can be extremely detrimental. More specifically, social and racial derogatory terms impact certain groups in ways most of us can’t conceive.

The mere weight and history behind certain words make it worthy for you to think twice, or even three times, before uttering them, if not stopping you from using them at all.

Whether you’re screaming at your television while watching FOX News or having a heated debate with your roommates at Torchy’s, using racial and social derogatory terms influence your thought processes and overall perception.

There are multiple consequences of using these terms, but the main reason is that more than likely, they aren’t representative of the person you are or strive to be.


Everyone’s heard or been told that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” However, almost everyone has been hurt because of something someone said to them.

Bones can be fixed if they are hurt by sticks and stones, but words can’t. You can’t take back your words regardless of how much damage they have done to a person or a relationship.

Also, all words are not created equal. Each word carries a different nuance that, when put into different contexts, reflects different idea and emotions. For instance, if you were to call someone “stupid,” you’ve only called them “stupid.”

But, if you refer to a black person as a “savage,” you’ve assassinated their character, dehumanized them and essentially called them every other word associated with the notion of savagery. Thus, it’s important that you recondition yourself and peers to eradicate the “sticks and stones” narrative.

For the record, using social and racially derogatory terms unintentionally doesn’t make you a bad person. Oftentimes, people associate those who use offensive words such as “faggot,” “redneck” and “half-breed” as bad people, but that too is far from the truth.

No one is inherently a bad person. You’re human and you make mistakes — many mistakes. What matters is what you do after learning that what you said hurt someone and was not a reflection of your best self.

Again, recall how you want to be remembered. The legacy of a socially sensitive guy beats that of a popular douchebag any day.

Why The Words You Say Can Hurt Someone

Yes, technically everyone can say anything they want to, but should they? Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of those words. If you care about yourself and the feelings of those around you, you’ll steer from using offensive words to label certain racial and social groups.

Most philosophical intellectuals will argue that words are inherently meaningless, and therefore little consideration should be taken into the ways in which they’re used. Words are indeed inherently meaningless, but people apply meaning to them. History, experience and context give them weight in everyday interactions.

History plays a significant role in words you can’t say. To understand the history of racial and social bad words is to understand why these words hurt. Slurs were created to dehumanize the group it refers to, thus they reflect the perspective of the entire group, not just an individual.

Not all members of a marginalized group may be offended, but a large majority will. For example, some black people don’t mind their white peers using the word “nigga,” but most do. There are countless instances in which people use words they shouldn’t be saying, yet they are still affirmed by one representative of the group it offends.

The Words You Can’t Say

Hopefully, you know you can’t say words such as “nigga,” “cracker,” “fag” and “redskin,” but in case you don’t, you can’t. However, there are several words people don’t consider or even know to be derogatory terms.

One of these words is “lame,” which we often use to refer to something that’s uncool. However, the inception of that word refers to someone with a physical disability.

Since people with physical disabilities are largely ignored as members of the marginalized community, it just seems incredibly inconsiderate to use the term in such a casual way. Essentially, to call something or someone “lame” is to associate them with this group, which then communicates the idea that the physically disabled are uncool.

Another word you can’t say is “Oreo.” This term often refers to black people who display characteristics that have long been compared to that of white Americans, such as precision in pronunciation and sartorial conservatism, among others.

When you call a black person an “Oreo,” you’re basically saying that their correctness in speech or any other area is comparable to that of white people, which then essentially says that the white way is the right way.

Consider how using that word communicates your views of black people altogether. To black people, it means both denying their racial characteristics, their capability of correctness or perfection and their acceptance of their own race.

Other words you can’t say are “tranny,” “zebra” and “chink.” All these terms are offensive to some group in some way, and it’s important to educate yourself of their origin before even thinking of using them.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t use these types of words because of the reflection it has on you, the way it makes others feel and its disruptive and destructive nature to the society you are living in.

Writer Profile

Julian Randall

Texas Tech University

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