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Linguistic relativity – “Guilty until proven insolent” (Part 2)

prison project

Linguistic relativity – the science of influencing thought patterns through the use of words – dictates behavior. No one wants to be the black sheep of the family. We avoid being black balled, black listed, or blackmailed. At our darkest hour we fear black clouds, black magic, the dark side, dark days, dark mysteries, dark memories, dark pasts, dark histories, dark secrets, dark minds, and dark temptations. These dark sayings subconsciously relegate dark human beings to a relative third class status of minor-ity citizenship.

The words “dark” & “black” are routinely used to convey the worst. Why not vilest hour, sinister clouds, wicked magic, awful side, dreadful days, sinful mysteries, terrible memories, evil pasts, criminal histories, appalling secrets, immoral minds, cruel temptations, et cetera? Why does every detective show, murder mystery and crime program use the words “dark” & “black” to imply guilt and instill suspicion? Although it is not acceptable to disrespect the gay community with the catchphrase, “That’s so gay!” it is alright to disrespect dark and Black communities by using the words “dark” and “black” as synonyms for disdain.

No wonder, according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, “Black children are assumed to be … less innocent and inherently guilty of some wrong doing.” Yet the pretense of an American justice system persists. From Victoria Price and Ruby Bates’ (1931) false accusations of rape against the Scottsboro Boys to Charles Manson’s (1969) attempt to start an apocalyptic race war (Helter Skelter) in America, it remains popular to abuse and falsely accuse “dark/black” hue-man beings: Susan Smith (1995) killed her children then accused Black men of kidnapping and murdering her unwanted children; Charles Stuart (1989) killed his pregnant wife then blamed Black men for the slaughter of his wife and unborn child; and Bethany Storro (2011) disfigured herself then wrongly accused a Black woman of throwing acid in her face. These are just a few cases which prove how well people are trained to think the worst of those considered “dark.”

Meanwhile countless crimes continue to be committed against and blamed on “black, brown” and “dark” individuals against an echoing backdrop of nostalgic stereotypes and bloody excuses: “I had to shoot-to-kill because I was scared; he was wearing a hoodie; their music was too loud; I thought it was a gun; he was dark, it was dark!” Unfortunately, very little justice is possible once false accusations are accepted as facts and the murders of unarmed citizens are exonerated as justifiable homicides. After being killed physically, the wrongfully slain victim is then character assassinated with a bevy of guilty-until-proven-insolent comments designed to rationalize murder with a shoot-first-ask-questions-later mentality which generally culminates with a “dark” verdict of justifiable homicide.