My 2nd Letter to Friends, when asked “why that makes it ok for white people today to call themselves shamans?”:
Because Shaman is a perfectly righteous word to use when describing a spiritual leader, no matter how formal or informal their congregation might be. It has a millenium old history.
Both the Germanic and Celtic Tribes that the Roman’s attempted to conquer had strong pagan/spiritual leaders that have been called “Shaman” by some learned men.
Understanding every individual’s view point on a word, and respecting everyone’s feelings can be difficult, but we should all continue to openly support understanding. And anti-oppression as I come to understand it.
As an example, the term “playing indian”, though common during my childhood, emotes both the childlike innocence of kids playing and the horrific genocide supported by the American government, now that I understand the history. I choose to avoid using it in anything I would write without offering some apologetic explanation.
I always think of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn when I remind myself of both slavery and the indigenous genocide. Mark Twain used language so eloquently, but never comes out and apologizes directly for the injustices that he obviously came to understand later in life.
We should all seek forgiveness for the things our forefathers did in the name of profit and expansionism.
(a sidebar of humor) Unfortunately, there is no formal body governing the English language as there is for French and many other formal languages. We could then more formally challenge the misuse of language. I would gladly support the creation of an L’École de Anglais.
If you are willing to report how any given phrase makes you “feel” then we can start positive discussions and seek your forgiveness for our lack of understanding.
Personally I do not support, even internalized, censorship; but I do support restraint, apology, understanding and love.
We will all benefit from learning how individuals and cultures are affected by our own attempts to communicate!