I’m Amy E. Feldman with the two-word phrase used as evidence of discrimination.
A professor at Ferris State University was suspended after a videotaped profanity-laced lecture of his went viral in which he said, “you people are just vectors of disease to me.” Yeah, I’m going to skip your office hours, thanks.
Most people are aware that slurs directed at someone’s race, religion, or national origin can be the basis of a lawsuit. But there are slightly more subtle ways that people indicate their hostility to a group that are increasingly being used as evidence of discriminatory intent. The phrases “you people” or “those people” indicate an otherness of the group being addressed or assessed, and it shows that “those people” are seen not as individuals but for certain stereotypical characteristics. As Professor Disease Vector has learned the hard way, you should think before using the phrase “you people.” Words matter, as we the people should remember.