We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. While most of us try to be good people, to treat each other with kindness and respect on a daily basis, there may be ways in which we’re falling short that we’re not even aware of – a new photo project by Duke University’s LGBT group, Blue Devils United, and student activist group Think Before You Talk – is calling attention to it.
“You Don’t Say” is a new image-based initiative launched by the university in order to remind students of the power the language they choose. Using seemingly innocuous phrases like “no homo” and “that’s so gay” or referring to women as “bitches” may seem like normal, harmless fun, but in actuality those words are rooted in misogyny and homophobia – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Duke’s project invited students to be photographed holding signs with words they find to be offensive, as well as explaining why they can be so problematic to those who may be unaware. As participant Abhi Sanka explained, “I don’t say no homo because it delegitimizes love and sexual identities. This campaign strives first to instill understanding of how words can make a difference in shaping identities.”
You Don’t Say pushes us to think more critically about the way we speak both to and about each other, and hopefully can help to make us more aware of things that might hurt or offend those around us – and things that might carry a deeper, more damaging history to marginalized groups of all kinds. Awareness is key, and it’s the first step towards making a change for the better.