To preview signing of my book Race-Baiter in St. Petersburg Sunday, the nine most dangerous words media use to talk race
When it comes to political fights in a democracy, words are often the footsoldiers on the battlefield.
Books have been written about how words such as "liberal," "pro-life," "entitlements," and more. The social context for words can help win a political fight; the moment a negative-sounding phrase is attached to a political idea, it can become much harder to make it a reality.
Before my new book Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation was published last week, the Huffington Post asked me to identify the nine most dangerous words media -- and the rest of us, really -- use to talk about race.
We'll be talking on these words and many other subjects at 6 p.m. Sunday, in a book signing scheduled at Studio@620, the performance space at 620 1St Ave. South in St. Petersburg. The following Monday, Nov. 12, I'll be signing at Inkwood Books, 216 S. Armenia Ave., Tampa. Both events are free, though we of course hope you'll buy a book so i can sign it for you.
I had a lot to choose from. Much as we try to avoid these discussions, we have a lot of code words cobbled together to say what we mean without really saying it. "Urban" and "inner-city" stand in for references to poor racial minorities; "mainstream," "soccer mom" and "working class" stand in for various types of white people.
Part of the struggle to talk about race is to develop language that says what we actually mean as directly, but respectfully, as possible.
I pulled together a list of these for a handy graphic collage assembled by the Huffington Post. Click here to check out the display, which outlines the meaning behind words such as "welfare," "Colorblind society," Post-racial," "White privilege," "racist" and, of course, "race-baiter."
Defusing the destructive power of the code words is an important step in defusing the conflict. Check out my analysis and see for yourself.