Over 4 decades ago Dr.Thomas and I published a brief article discussing the relationship between social inequity and emotional sickness.(Claudewell S. Thomas,Jacob J. Lindenthal,”The Depression of the Opressed,”Mental Health 1975: 13-4.The suggestion was offered that,”…in an attempt to assuage the pain of depression ( the victim) may narcotize himself with drugs and alcohol, or fantasize great gainsa at dice.” The authors went on to suggest that, “these behaviors are self-defeating and further aggravate the already existing depression…they feed into the stereotype the dominant culture has of him,namely,as a spaced out, drunken, irresponsible and shiftless human being. In desperation the minority person often resorts to violence against another.
Gains made over these many decades,including the proscription for pejorative language employed presumably by members of the dominant ethnic group.S.I.Hayakawa’s theory of the role of language in determining behavior.(Hayakawa,S.I.Language in Thought and Action.Enlarged ed.San DiegoL Harcourt Brace Jojanovich 1978) calls attention to the twinning potential of language in the promotion of both social conflict as well as cohesion.We have oceans to go when consideration is given to a disturbing trend involving the use of pejorative language,a form of violence in referring to one another among minority youths. This is a negativity to be excoriated by everyone who recognizes that “stcks and stones may hurt my bones ,but names will ALWAYS hurt me_and everyone else.”