08 April 2010

Big Pimpin'

If language has power (and if 'the pen is mightier than the sword,' how can we argue it doesn't), then we must first recognize what power does to understand what language can do.

There are two things in this world each of us is able to do, two ways of using power. Either we build, create, form and design or we destroy, eviscerate, ruin and obliterate. Create or destroy: those are our options, our only options.

Therefore, since language has power, it may either build or tear down.

We build when we preach 'Love is the final fight' or sing out 'One life but we're not the same/We get to carry each other.' We build when we tell our kids 'Good job,' 'I love you,' or 'Thank you for doing your best.' We build in those moments we talk about injustice as if it were a foreign invader to our way of life. We can build in the quiet moments and when we are louder than the mountains.

Even more easily, we can tear apart and destroy. What takes years to build in words of trust can be destroyed with one tactical lie. Biting sarcasm creates wedges which destroy relationships. The silver-tongued serpent inflicts more pain than brutal honesty from a true friend.

It is with this in mind that i read about Demi Moore and Kim Kardashian's clash over Twitter last week. This conversation via Twitter is what followed.

kk: Big pimpin w @SerenaJWilliams @LaLaVazquez @Kelly_Rowland Love u girls!

dm: Are you using the word 'pimpin' as in pimping?

kk: Doesn't everyone? LOL

dm: No disrespect I love a girls night out but a pimp and pimping is nothing more than a slave owner!

_lyricsexpress: [Kim] may have meant it in the "NEW AGE LINGO" - as in "pimpin" = Cool?

dm: Yeah but a pimp is nothing more than a slave owner!
if we want to end slavery we need to stop glorifying the "pimp" culture

jaeearly: tru but she doesnt mean it quite so literally

dm: It's not her! i/we have allowed it to be considered cool, but it still is what it is!
Just so ya'll are clear I like @KimKardashian I was just making a point about how we have used a word and desensitized the real meaning.
Clearly I stirred up a s**t storm, but to create change you have to be willing to take a risk and be willing to provoke thought & conversation

kk: Nothing wrong with dancing to Big Pimpin' by Jay Z in the club! Having a girls night out, gotta love that song!
Good point! I agree! It was just a song not literal

dm: Thanks for understanding!

Unintentionally, Kardashian used the word 'pimping' in a way that acted in a more destructive manner than necessary. On one level, she used the word as casually as any other and only to colorfully illustrate her night. Unfortunately, it seems more often than not we use language like a young toddler; our only goal is to navigate around our world, but we seem to be stumbling and knocking over mugs of coffee and falling down stairs more often than we gracefully traverse from kitchen to living room.

Using words casually, without knowing the weight of the meaning behind them is akin to tossing a sledgehammer onto the counter; it will break your grandmother's mug, or knock over the blender, spilling smoothie onto your best cookbook.

Carefully consider what words you use. 'Pimpin' glorifies the pimp culture of slavery and prostitution. 'Gyp' is a derivative of gypsy, equating that ethnic group with thievery and cheating. 'Hooligan' first referred to Irish immigrants in Britain who made a ruckus at the various pubs around London.

So watch your words; they have the power to either destroy or create. I know which i want them to do.