“Brother”

A friend recently told me I should refrain from calling “black” people “brother”. I tend to call males with whom I encounter “brother”. I think some people hear the word as “black man” (“Hey, black man. How are you, black man?”). This would certainly seem to hold the potential to create division, but I use it as means of expressing kinship. It says, “We are in this together”. I suppose, to some males of African dissent, I am not viewed as “Brother” because I do not face the same discrimination they do. It is offensive because my claim that we are in this together does not seem justified. To others, the use of the word, may seem belittling. It classifies the individual as a brother rather than my brother. Of course this is all speculation. I have never been a “black” person and don’t know that I have the experience to truly understand the offense this word would seem to cause some. I try to do as little harm as possible in any case I find myself. So, is it the greater good to avoid calling only people of African ancestry “Brother”? What would it mean to treat these people differently solely as a result of the color of their skin? It would mean I would have to start treating them as “Black” first. I try to see people as people. That is not to say that I am color-blind. But rather, I believe we have more similarities than we have differences. It is not my skin color or my ancestry that defines me. I’d like to think my fellow humans see things in a similar way. Any rules for interacting with certain people as a result of something as superficial as skin color would seem to work to create illogical division. This is kind of the opposite of my intent. Perhaps the greater good would be to stop using the word as means of showing unity all-together. I can’t give one name to my family of African dissent and another to every other member of my family. Perhaps my real meaning behind the word is namaste, I recognize you as a beautiful part of God – en theos. But I don’t want to force my spiritual perspectives on anyone. It there a word, a title, a name that just means “I love you and appreciate you and would not want any harm to come to”? I would use that word every day.

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