The school environment is no place for racial slurs. Yet they are still prevalent and being said on a daily basis in an environment meant to promote respect and tolerance among students as it becomes a norm to let these offenses slide by their peers. The administration has an obligation to face these issues and must do so now in order to fulfill their responsibilities in creating a productive, respectful, and safe learning environment.
It has become a habit for students to use racial slurs to refer to their friends and other people in place of more informal nouns like “bro,” “dude,” and “man.” Leaving the continued usage of racial slurs unchecked also leaves students to create such habits. This continues not only a cycle of indifference and casual microaggressions, but a damaging campus culture that pushes students to follow along to fit in.
On a campus composed of several ethnic groups, a mutual understanding of one another becomes another critical component of campus life. The constant usage of racial slurs, however, does not contribute to this. Students become indifferent to these derogatory terms as this cycle continues as a result of the administration’s inaction. This apathy only dehumanizes certain groups and lowers the standards of conduct between students, which is a key component to a positive diverse campus.
It certainly is true that to some students, racial slurs are a part of their day-to-day communication. For them, this is not a huge issue if they only use them among those who are okay with it. This should not and should never be the case. Racial slurs are not some kind of casual language. They are a very real and derogatory form of harm that go beyond language. Selectively choosing when to use racial slurs does not solve any problems—it only hides the mindset of casual racism and microaggressions.
Racial slurs carry a history of oppression, discrimination, harassment, and mockery. The root of this issue lies in the lack of awareness students have regarding racial slurs and what even constitutes as one. This topic can no longer be swept under the rug as just a “phase” or as “kids being kids” who will eventually learn— they will not. The first step begins with the administration openly acknowledging this issue. Promoting awareness on the issue pushes many students onto their own first step to reconsider and reevaluate their habits and stance on the usage of racial slurs. The stigma of racial slurs being a sensitive topic should not hinder any discussion regarding it. We cannot pretend that this will not escalate into potential hate crimes and speech if left unaddressed on campus.