Words that Wound, Words that Heal

“But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized — at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do — it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. (Applause.)” – from President Obama’s Arizona Memorial Speech, January 13, 2011

The above quote by Barack Obama urges us to measure our words—because words are very powerful and we affect those around us with the words we use. A point in reference within our recent history was the affront of “bitches” used in hip hop songs, every other word. Political rappers took the stance to banish this word from their music because it disrespected and diminished woman-hood.

More recently, there have been incidences of violence in Los Angeles—young people toting guns to school (yes, again). Within the dialogue of these occurrences, the phrase “lock down” was noted in all the media, as a method for heightening security in the schools.

A few months ago, I was at Self Help Graphics during one of the youth art classes. A teen noted that her school was in “lock down” the previous week—which in the moment amused me, because I thought it was a teen-angst metaphor aimed at authority. We all know that “lock-down” refers to a penitentiary system used to punish prisoners by taking away all their privileges. Everyone is ‘locked’ in their cells until the punishment period is over or the warden feels that it has been enough.

To hear the LAUSD representatives in the news referring to their procedure of heightened security during these recent shootings as “lock-down”, totally angered me. At a time when we know that it costs more tax payers’ money to keep young people incarcerated, than to provide them with a full university education—using words such as “lock down” to public school children can only be seen as a way to prepare and usher them into the systems of incarceration. This is just outrageous to me.

I cannot watch the various cable reality shows following the broken and sad people in San Quentin, Folsom, or the others hellish prisons. Having no freedom to do as you like, is the most horrifying thing I can imagine. No doubt that is why children being broken down with such hurtful words and concepts as “locked down”— is simply yet another way to crush their spirits.

My favorite words are revolution, truth, justice, caretaker and compañero.

2 thoughts on “Words that Wound, Words that Heal

  1. I saw that some high school (can’t remember name) was on “lock down” a day or two ago until about 7pm, I would have been pissed. Figuratively and probably literally. Yeah, I’m more prone to think of this as socialization to the expected roles they are to fill in their adult futures.

    Next up, SuperMarket Lockdowns. Montebello Mall Lockdowns. Hollenbeck Park Lockdowns. Website Lockdowns. Git back in yer cell!

  2. Thanks Chavo! I would classify this sort of Social Propaganda as the “Repetition” method. This type of propaganda deals with a word that is repeated over and over again, until it gets stuck in someones head, thereby making you “buy” the product or in this instance “buy into the idea” of being in a prison outside of prison. Before, such propaganda was used on Eastsiders exclusively—but I understand that “lock down” is used in all the schools: east and west in Los Angeles.

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