You have probably seen these “controversial” words on bumper stickers, Tumblr post by your little sister or even a facebook post by your “woke” associates. This quote written by historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is what I (personally) find to be a prime example of the impact selective perception has on an individual’s reactions to something. Individuals are seeing this quote, these words and the way they are arranged and fitting it to their own personal agenda (i.e. selective perception). Here is a simple quote, that because of syntax, diction and word choice, an individual can easily be persuaded to be offended or inspired by it. The purpose of the quote (from how I process it) is Ulrich expressing her possible frustration with the fact so many women who made influential and positive impacts in history are so easily overlooked. For people that are part of women empowerment movements they see this quote and are motivated, driven and enthusiastic about breaking that mold and becoming known for what they believe in. However, just as easily their counterparts can look at this quote, find it insulting and debate over the actual meaning of these words. In the society we live no, with what it going on politically, socially, and even on our own campus, it’s a reminder that words have impact and the way we perceive, interpret and start a conversation with such words is can be the major difference between more chaos or the start of a resolution.
Before reading this Commonplace please watch this video in order to get the background story.
“Wait? How can I wait? I’ve done nothing but wait. Thinking this day, next day, something gonna change. Hoping. But what good is hoping when the same high-minded people keep telling low-minded lies.”
These lines are from the song “It’s Gonna Take Time” from the 2010 Broadway short ‘The Scottsboro Boys’ which talks about the story of 9 young black men that were falsely accused of raping 2 young white women in Alabama and as a result spent years in jail. This song in particular, was Haywood Patterson, one of the black men, talking to the Interlocutor (the narrator of the show) trying to keep him in high spirits – which is hard given the circumstances. Something I observed was the syntax, the way that Haywood, a black man is singing these words make it evident that this is a black man. He uses things words such as gonna an obvious slang, which is not proper and which is not something a classy, educated person (white at the time) would say. Given the story behind the musical, it’s a very profound thing that Haywood stated, calling out the people that were controlling his fate when all they had to base this crime on was his skin color. This line from “It’s Gonna Take Time” is a very intellectual and analytical thing to say for a man that called himself as something he “don’t know nothing” and it shows that though, he is not “book smart” doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any sense, feelings, and a brain.