No You Can't Use That Term

CW/TW: The following piece is written about racial slurs that are incredibly offensive. 

A few days ago a Whyte woman called me "Spic." I briefly thought of the movie "Hancock," starring Will Smith. "Call me asshole, one more time." Except it was spic and I probably couldn't have flung her towards the sun and would have had to settle for a verbal smack down. But otherwise, pretty much the same reaction. 


 I was twelve the first time someone spat the word "Spic" at me. I was walking to school on a warm day, when a man driving by, rolled down his window and shouted "Hey! Get the fuck out of here, Spic!" I ran the last two blocks to school. I heard it again over the course of my life quite often. Always with a negative connotation. Always spat at me, used to belittle and destroy me. 

The origin of 'Spic' is unclear. Some say that it comes from the word "Hispanic." The problem with this theory is that the term 'spic' predates the term Hispanic. Other theories are far grosser. One theory dates it back to 1908 when American laborers in Panama (Read here: The Saturday Evening Post ).  'Spiggoty' seems to be what Panamanians sounded like when they tried to say "Speak the English," or "No speaking the English." Spiggoty was what the American laborers came to call the Panamanians, and was later shortened to 'Spig.' Another theory states that SPIC is an initialism used by law enforcement, meaning "Spanish Person in Custody." There's no proof of this though. 

Recently, I've seen it used in more and more places. I've seen whyte folx claim ignorance to it's true meaning, or tokenize their Latinx friends by claiming they gave them carte blanche to use the term. Let's just be clear... You can't use it. 

This is not open for debate. And, though I've focused on spic here, this applies for any and all slurs. Don't ask why, don't throw inaccurate dictionary definitions at me, and don't try to tell me the history of the word. Your opinion is completely irrelevant to this discussion. Unless you belong to the marginalized community, you do not get to use the terms that were spat at them to degrade and dehumanize them. It's simple! 

This is the part where many will ask "But other *insert marginalized group* call each other that all the time."



Just because members of a marginalized community have reclaimed the term for themselves, does not give you rights to use it. They've claimed it FOR THEM. And not a single marginalized group is monolithic. You don't get to use a term just because your cousin baby father sisters boyfriend's Uncle gave you permission . If you don't exist within that community, you don't get to use their terminology.