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One Step Forward, One Step Back on My Path to Enlightenment

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Words matter.

Saturday night I learned that a blog post I wrote won a Colorado Authors League award. When I heard the news, I felt happy and embarrassed at the same time. Let me explain.

The post is titled “Lame History Classes, Meeting O.J. and My Reckoning with Racism.

I wrote it in June 2020, three weeks after the tragic death of George Floyd. Along with sharing excerpts from my journal about exploring my own background with racism, I affirmed my hope to be a better advocate for racial equality. 

Fast forward to June of 2021. I read an article by Thesaurus.com entitled “7 Words to Stop Using in 2021” and realized with a sick feeling that one of the words appears in my blog post headline:  Lame. I had used the word in its contemporary context to describe my whitewashed junior high history classes.

But now I know that “lame” is a word that can feel hurtful, much like the word “retarded.”

In retrospect, “biased,” “one-sided,” or even “lousy” would have been more precise, kinder word choices to describe my history classes.

I apologize, and cringe knowing that I chose a word that’s considered ableist (language that marginalizes the disabled community).

The past year has brought so many opportunities to broaden my perspectives. 

Words matter, more than ever, and I’m still learning.

Thank you for your grace,

Signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. The other finalists for this year’s Colorado Authors League blog award wrote such wonderful posts, with no offending words. I know you’ll enjoy reading “Mudlarking” by Sheri Cobb South and “An Elegant Haunt” by Buffy Gilfoil. 

Eliza Cross is the author of 15 books, including recent titles like Bacon Beans and Beer and Small Bites. She blogs at ElizaCross.com and is the founder of the BENSA Bacon Lovers Society. Her articles have appeared in publications like Sunset, Parents and Writers' Digest. Eliza lives near Denver with her family.

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