Is it possible that a bare majority–if not the gross majority– of the words we use to convey our most intimate, intelligent and innocuous thoughts, feelings and actions may be really wrong? Then, we’re not communicating. Take an easily bandied word RACE. I heard someone refer to “the German race.” a day ago. I did not bite my tongue, but I said nothing. I won’t insult your intelligence by posting multiple dictionary definitions. Dictionaries compose themselves around how words are being used by a certain percentage of people, That is why dictionaries change regularly. My favorite dictionary is an unabridged Webster’s from 1979. I like “real words,” not acronyms that are removed from the dictionary when they are passe, while the latest all consonant “words”(sic) are inserted. Post-racial is a recent hybrid that has been in public usage for a few years. Journalists and pundits like to say “post-racial” to indicate that, because the US has elected a president with one-half African and one-half European heritage the nation is no longer mired in the quicksand of its history: chattel slavery, legal, de facto segregation, and discrimination against the descendants of African captives to this hemisphere.
Are you laughing, yet? One corner of my mouth is turned up, and one corner is turned down when I think “post-racial.” Russ Limbaugh, the garbage disposal that someone forgot to flick on, is a waving flag to the fallacy of “post-racial.” He and his fellow traveling reactionaries and conservatives, who dispute the legitimacy of the president as an American citizen, redefined the word almost as quickly as it has come into use.
The most accurate definition of race is as a synonym for the species of hominids, homo sapiens sapiens, seven billion of us. Take Limbaugh’s tirade against the president’s one-half African ancestry to the entire species, or, particularly, the female one half plus. The ignorance of Limbaugh’s attack on a Georgetown law student’s reasoned comments on institutionalized prejudice/racism denies students’ health services that are not controversial to medial science, nor students’ free choice. Post-racial becomes its polar opposite, above/beyond limitations imposed in the name of “race” in the dictionary/scientific. Now laugh, really loud.