Are you not a Murzyn? After all, it is even written in children’s books

Are you not a Murzyn? After all, it is even written in children’s books

There is a dispute in Poland about how to identify people with dark skin color. Supporters of “Murzyn” are stubborn – they cite the “innocent” etymology of the word in Polish language . However, in relations with other people, we do not use only a dictionary, but we activate our own intelligence and sensitivity, we think and feel, we use empathy, reason, we show personal culture. 

The negative connotations that the term has grown over the years are so obvious that probably only bad will can lead to insistence on using it. It is inconsistent that the persistent claim that “Murzyn” is a neutral word is not accompanied by a boycott of silly sayings, which are certainly not neutral and contradicts the claim that the word “Murzyn” is understood only in the context of skin color. In addition, people with dark complexion are born, living in various parts of the world, brought up in different cultures and identifying with different religions. There is no need to combine them into one group in the way that the word “Murzyn” does. Probably just to assign certain features to them, to stigmatize. For emotional and cognitive reasons, it seems reasonable to name people in a way that takes into account the place where they come from. Therefore, geographical and nationality aspects will be important – everyone has the right to be identified with their country of origin or residence, and a healthy interest in other people’s otherness should refer to the place where the newcomer comes from, the language in which he can communicate, etc. “Murzyn” does not explain anything, it concerns only the color of the skin, and this information is usually irrelevant. There is a desperate question in the discussions around this topic about what we should now call the persons in question. For reasons difficult to understand, normality, i.e. giving up the word “Murzyn” to the Congolese, Sudanese or possibly African, is sometimes referred to as exaggerated political correctness. This is not an exact substitute, because white people also live in Africa, and people with dark complexion can come from other continents. The thing is, however, that no word is needed in place of “Murzyn”. White people do not need an analogous term, so – as you can see – you can do without it. Of course, the implementation of different names is not a guarantee of a change in the attitude of Poles towards “other”. Although by instilling certain language behaviors in people, it is possible to influence their sensitivity to various situations and phenomena, but the ability to build positive relationships with other people is a multifactorial and multifaceted problem. It may be that with time these “geographical” terms will grow into these negative connotations.

Well, we will not bring up everyone, there will always be people who have a problem in interpersonal relations (because this may be related to the perception of other people through stereotypes), guided in life by specific rules and anti-values, but at least lose the “handy” word (if they were considered offensive), with all its negative charge. It is enough to say them with appropriate gestures, a grimace of the face or a giggle, that it becomes an insult, and paying attention causes an immediate reaction: “Aren’t you a Murzyn? After all, it’s even written in children’s books. ” “African” probably would not give this effect, especially since it does not go so well with “Bambo”.The arguments of people declaring the benevolent, non-depreciating use of the disputed term are unconvincing. Good to remember, that in addition to our own thoughts and intentions, there is another human being with his feelings, and he does not want to be defined in a way that he does not identify with and which may offend him. I will not mention here, because it is not fitting, sayings and phraseological associations based on the offensive use of the word “Murzyn”, but everyone knows that there are many.

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