Should New York Eliminate “Dehumanizing” Terminology for Immigrants?


No one likes to feel like they are less than, and when people use dehumanizing terminology for immigrants and people of color, it does just that. We all want to feel like we are valued, and while dehumanizing terminology is still being used, there is no way to achieve that.

What Is Dehumanizing Terminology?

Dehumanizing terminology is terminology and phrases or words that deprive a person or a specific group of people of their positive human qualities. This could be racial slurs, talking down about specific traits of a person, or going out of your way to make a person or a group of people feel like they are less than or that they are not a person or not a human.

Why Is Dehumanizing Terminology Dangerous?

We have seen this through history, every time a group of people is marginalized or every time a group of people is introduced into the main population, there are always going to be people that try to push those people out and that try to change the way that other people see them. Using dehumanizing terminology is just one way that people push those that are different or those that do not fit into the typical mold to the edges of society.

When this happens, it can be very dangerous for those that are being marginalized and those that are not. The less human that people appear, the easier it is to do things that are less human to them, the easier it is to neglect them, and the easier it is to take away rights from them and take away their overall humanity. For example, TRAC has found that a vast majority of immigration deportation cases involving women and children have not been able to prove “credible fear” to prevent returning to their home country. Unfortunately, dehumanizing terminology isn’t just used in our daily lives — it’s also written into our legislation.

Should New York Get Rid of Dehumanizing Terminology?

Put as simply as possible, yes, everyone should do whatever they can to get rid of any dehumanizing terminology that they are using in their own daily lives. The government also needs to do their part to make sure that they are not using any terminology in any official capacity that might make it easier for people to think that immigrants and people that were not born in the United States are lesser or that they are not people. Over 3,500 pieces of legislation are introduced each day for review, making laws that change things hard to get passed.

People tend to forget that words are very important, they are very powerful. It is important to take the time to make sure you are being very considerate with your words, that you are focusing and using terminology and words that make people feel that they are people and that they are worth as well.

Dehumanizing terminology has the ability to change the way that people see one another, it has the ability to totally change the way that we see one another and it also has the ability to change so much. We do need to be very reticent of what we are saying, of how we are interacting with people, and in how we are talking to people. We have a huge immigrant population in the United States, and in 2019 alone, 31 million people moved around to find new communities. We can support everyone by making sure the words used in our legislation and personal lives are respectful.