Refusing to Be Erased
The Significance of Words
After some reflection of this CHAMPS incident and finding parallels with my own experiences as a TCK, this is the deeper reason I concluded that explains why switching “BRATS” to “CHAMPS” has such a tremendous impact:
Language that evolves out of a collective and personal acknowledgement of unique and significant experiences serves to validate these experiences. Integral in this process are specific vocabulary words accepted by the people involved in these experiences and an overarching identity and sub-identities that names the experiences. A change in the terms used to refer to an identity from a place disconnected from the experiences disregards the validated unique and significant experiences.
Change the words used to name an identity(ies) without permission from the tribe that claims that identity(ies) and you disregard the sacred process of how a people came to acknowledge and validate their very personal and one another’s unique and significant experiences.
This incident is not just about a name, but an identity that involves a history of victories over difficult journeys, such as having special memories for schools that no longer exist or the long term uncertainty of a parent’s return home. Most civilians would not understand things like this. People need to be the recognized experts of their own individual and shared experiences.