A Conversation With Myself About Safety in Euphemisms

I'm a fan of good euphemisms. My fanship is more tongue-in-cheek than anything though. I love a good euphemism because I'm fascinated by how people would rather sugarcoat their meaning than to just come on out and say it.

So I'm reading an assignment for class and it's becoming apparent to me that this book was written for white people. I keep thinking to myself "well, if I feel like I want to say that in class, I should probably say 'this book was written for folks with higher SES than myself...'

And then I have to ask myself why in the hell I would say that when what I actually mean, and what is actually true, is that this book was written for white people. It's not a bad thing, just a point that maybe what's included in this book isn't, as a whole work, applicable to a lot of people's lives, including my own.

And I tell myself that the reason I'd do that is two-fold -- for one, we talk about class because it's more encompassing and relevant than race in some cases and two, it'll keep all the white folks out of their feelings forcing me to spend more time assuring them I don't think they're racist and trying to refocus them on my actual point than making said actual point.

I agree with myself that this may be purposeful, but I wonder since when did we use class all the time? Why is that taken better than race and who actually decided that class was more encompassing than race?

And myself realizes that it was white people. White people decided we should use class because it's more encompassing and they have a point. Some things effect poor folks -- regardless of race -- more than rich folks. But what about things like that pesky unemployment rate which, sure, hurts poor folks but is actually hurting people of color a LOT more? But you know when you talk about class instead, when you say that something is hurting poor people, it gives white folks some cover. They can pretend that you're not really talking about their privilege or ignorance. You're talking about some other group of which they may or may not be a part of.

This makes sense. If you're in a room full of folks, most of whom will be white probably, and you make a generic comment about how terribly our tax laws treat the working poor versus the wealthy, it won't necessarily be immediately apparent who in the room falls on which side of that line. If you, on the other hand, discuss how terribly our criminal system treats black folks versus white folks -- well it's immediately apparent who's winning in this case and you know what people don't like? Embarrassment. Personal attacks. Feeling helpless. And when everybody knows who you are in relation to a generic and potentially harmful statement such as that, well, you're probably going to be embarrassed and feel attacked and helpless.

So that's why -- I told myself -- it'll just be easier for you to use "class" IF you feel like it's necessary to point out that this book wasn't written for everybody. This way, you recognize that not all white people are bad and they won't get down in their feelings forcing you to abandon your initial point to reassure them that they are not bad people simply for being born not colored.

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