I’m sure some of you said this word thinking it was just another way of calling me outspoken or blunt, and honestly, I know it’s not a word that is said very often with hatred in mind. However, it is a word that literally puts down women of colour everywhere, and to everyone who continues to call me this with that knowledge in mind – you’re an asshole.
In a lot of the cases it was used synonymously with confidence, but when you really break it down, what does sassy actually mean? If you got for the dictionary definition words like lively and bold come up, but when looking further so does rude and cheeky.
So let us do an exercise, picture, someone who’s sassy, what do you actually see? Is she white, Asian or black? Is she confident or rude? Is she someone you’d actually want to be friends with? – Spoiler alert, the word in itself is a negative and insulting phrase that is synonymous with the angry black girl stereotype.
There have been many times I’ve stood my ground in school, university and the workplace and displayed behaviours very similar to others, but whereas some people get labelled strong and assertive, there have been multiple cases whereas me and other women of colour got called sassy.
I’d say if you’re in a position of privilege it’s best to keep an eye out for this kind of labelling. It’s not even a difficult thing to do, just think ‘would I use this word for my white co-workers’, if that’s not the case, then it’s best not to use it. I’m all for a bit of banter, don’t get me wrong, however, if it’s in a professional setting it’s important to understand there are lines.
For example, banter during work or outside of work is fine as long as all parties involved are participating. Using words and examples of the banter in your subordinates reviews, or using words that are racially charged against them with higher-ups and managers is completely wrong. Especially if you’re in the position to cultivate their opinion on someone.
TLDR: Sassy is a racially charged term, try not to use it please.
All images are taken from unsplash.