Thanks to my classmate, Shalonda, for introducing me to Sunni Patterson in our Religious Education class.
Sunni gives a definition of a word. A word is “composed of two parts, reflection and action.” I’ve written before about the reifying nature of words. When we speak and write, we make our experiences real. Or maybe Sunni would say, words reflect our reality.
Our words have power, not just to reflect our reality, but to form and transform it. And this is the terrifying power of words– that with our words we can demean and oppress and perpetuate systems of prejudice. “Is it that serious?” Sunni asks. “Yes, it’s a matter of life and death!”
But we cannot let the fear of this power keep us from speaking, for that same power is also the great gift of words– as Sunni says, we “right the wrongs by writing“.
Much is at stake with the words we write and speak. Sunni reminds me to “be mindful of the words that flow from [my] mouth, and with how they come out.”
I’ll let Sunni Patterson speak for herself:
May our speech be “perfect and pure and pleasing to the Force that governs this world. Only then can we say that our work is good…”