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Now that I understand it better, I have to admit my initial thoughts may have been an over-reaction.


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That often happens. Especially with you. But, what is the topic?


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Oh, sorry! Remember when you forwarded me the email from that woman who had read about our detour into the world of Criminal Justice on our website, and she said, "I just wanted to encourage you to consider changing the language a bit." At first, I rolled my eyes, but then I got annoyed.


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I remember the email but have no idea why you would get annoyed. It was not a random email from nowhere. She and I are both members of the Texas Women's Justice Coalition, although she is much more active as, for me, it is a learning experience. Plus, since she had been incarcerated, she has a very different perspective than I do.


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I wasn't questioning her credibility; I was annoyed because we've gone above and beyond to make it clear that we have open minds in terms of the criminal justice population – male and female. In fact, thanks to you, I went from a "lock 'em up and throw away the key" mentality to seeing them not as bad people, but people who have made bad choices.


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OK, but now I'm really confused as to why you were annoyed. It is not like you are only willing to help people on "the outside" but not when they are "inside".


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No, that's not what I'm saying. It's that initially, I thought to myself, gee, we've done all this – and for free – and it's some of the most rewarding work we've done, yet we're being criticized for using the word "offender"?! Seriously? One word!


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Yes, but she followed up by explaining how when we referred to them as "offenders" before seeing them as "people", it was contextually appropriate. However, by continuing to use the word "offender" it "perpetuates the dehumanization of the people in the minds of your readers."


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But one word?! I felt like she was ignoring everything else we said and being overly sensitive to one word!


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Sounds like you are the one being overly sensitive. Regardless, that one word has connotations, and conjures up images and stereotypes and misconceptions. It defines the person by their crimes and punishments, ignoring everything else. Words are powerful, so should always be used carefully, especially in criminal justice situations, where there is already such strong bias by both the media and society.


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I understand that. Now. The fact you thought it important enough to change the language on our website so quickly helped. Plus, the Marshall Project article you forwarded helped me understand that just because your intentions may be good, your choice of words can be damaging.


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I never realized that the word "offender" could be offensive (sorry, could not resist), as are other words such as "inmate" or "prisoner." But if changing it to "person who is incarcerated" can help change mindsets and attitudes, it seems an easy thing to do.


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Well, it worked on me … once I got past my assumptions and over-reaction.


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Sometimes change happens one person at a time …
Rendering by porcorex on iStock


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Based on the "hints" in your Ghosting post, it sounds like your recent "romance" wasn't quite a Lady GaGa "bad romance", but, well, a frustrating one.


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Interesting comparison, as years ago Gaga revealed that she is drawn to bad romances, but is not sure if she goes after them or they find her. Regardless, my "relationship" ended in the dating stage and never really became a romance. Either when I dated him almost 30 years ago, or recently. Although, this time, I thought it had potential.


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I was amazed that you were even willing to "rekindle" the relationship as you're not exactly a believer in "recycling" relationships, as I think you once phrased it. In fact, I thought you were pretty adamant about the concept of not repeating your mistakes.
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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

It started when Black sent Red a LinkedIn post about Louis Armstrong, asking her to "connect the dots" (one of Black's favorite things to do). Red knew that he was one of the most distinctive and talented jazz musicians in American history, but it was a complete surprise to learn that he had such a strong connection to a Jewish couple that immigrated from Lithuania and that he wore a Star of David for most of his life to honor them. That alone made it a "truth is stranger than fiction" story. The fact it's also a touching story about kindness and love makes this, at least for Red, even better than fiction.

Black, who prefers the pragmatic aspects of Armstrong's unusual journey – from being an impoverished black boy to an extraordinary career as a musician, singer, and composer – and sees it as a story of overcoming barriers, realizing your potential, and finding freedom (and she discloses an interesting connection between Armstrong and Independence Day).

Our July column, "RED & BLACK … The Sound Of Freedom," connects all those dots and is about so much more than surprising facts about Louis Armstrong. It's also about the power of music, inspiration, and hope, not to mention a very different way of looking at freedom.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Everyone laughs and wants to hear the story when I mention that I was recently "ghosted" by someone I had dated. What I find interesting is that ghosting has become so prevalent in today's society (and is not restricted to dating) that there is a term to describe the sudden "disappearance" of someone who wants to avoid all future contact with you.

Going back decades, I know there have been first dates that, at the time, I thought went well. But, after getting the "I'll call you" line … I never did. As a teenager, I can remember anxiously waiting for the phone (a landline tethered to the wall – and yes, I am that old) to ring, not wanting to go out and possibly miss the call. And, being very disappointed by the silence. Now, I cannot even remember who they were.

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