Sexist and racist language are not victimless crimes. Language is the thread that ties a people together, so to choose language that reinforces unjust power relationships is to participate in that injustice. And because one is in greater danger as one descends a hierarchy of power, sexist and racist language are not opinions, they are weapons.

One does not even have to actually say overtly sexist or racist words to participate in the language of oppression. One need only speak as if white men are the model upon which all other human beings are to be measured. One need only use concepts like “white trash” and “female minister” and the coded message of hierarchy has been sent.