Confronting Racism

 Glenn Bigonet, M.A.

Social Activist for Racial Equity

Facilitating Discussions about Racism





Racially Coded Language


Since the civil rights movement in the 1960's it has become taboo to make blantantly racist statements as doing so would identify you as a racist. The language used to talk about and support racism needed to be modified to softer language that could pass as having nothing to do with racism but most people understanding that the words used referred to people of color. Racially coded language was the result and although softer and much more indirect it has successfully continued to support our system of white supremacy. It has also made racism harder to identify for the majority of people.


What does Racially Coded Language Look Like?


Racially coded language is so imbedded in our every day lives that most people don't even see the racist meanings behind them and yet understand them at a core level at the same time. Examples of racially coded language are:

  • Discussions of Good/Bad neighhoods or schools is most commonly known as good = white, bad = black 
  • War on drugs/Tough on crime/Law and Order  has always lead to the mass incarceration of black people
  • Thugs - almost always refers to people of color
  • Voter Fraud = Votes of black people 
  • Ghetto/Urban/Inner City
  • Undesirables
  • Underprivileged
  • Welfare mothers 
  • Diverse
  • Sketchy 

These phrases and more, while not outwardly saying black, are referring to people of color. We all need to be aware of the underlying cultural meaning of such expressions so that we can stop using them ourselves and call others out for using them when we witness their use.   

Copyright © 2020   Glenn Bigonet, M.A.