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Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown just raised a very important point about the power of language

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Lauren Geall
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Karamo Brown smiling

The star of Netflix’s Queer Eye reminded us to think about the impact our words could have.

It’s official: Karamo Brown is an actual angel.

Aside from being the iconic culture expert on Netflix’s hit show Queer Eye (read: therapist and life coach), Brown is constantly inspiring us to be better, whether that’s by teaching us our own life lessons or warming our hearts with his life-affirming Instagram posts. 

And now, he’s back at it again, reminding us of the true power and impact of the language we use on a day to day basis.

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Taking to Twitter, Brown posed a debate to his followers, and asked for their thoughts.

“Someone just said to me, ‘I feel like my message is falling on deaf ears…’,” the tweet read, “and I told them that I felt that ‘saying’ is inappropriate.”

He continued: “It seems disrespectful and rude to the deaf and HOH community. She said I was being over sensitive. Thoughts?”

It was a sentiment that was clearly appreciated by many of the star’s followers, who were quick to praise Brown’s openness to learn from those affected.

“I have an auditory processing disorder and I’ve never liked that saying,” one response read. “It makes me feel like I’m being lumped in with those who intentionally don’t listen to others. So I’d say you’re totally right!”

“Thank you,” another began. “I don’t like the phrase because it implies that deaf people can’t listen. I put 10x more effort into communicating than hearing people.”

Thank you for being aware & using your platform to recognise and elevate Deaf/HOH perspectives.”

Others used the discussion as a chance to suggest potentially less damaging alternatives.

“Instead of ‘falling on deaf ears,’ what about ‘I feel like I’m talking and the mic is off’,” read one suggestion.

“One of the best I heard used the other day is ‘Talking to them is like trying to make a call in a cell phone dead zone’,” another person added. 

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What makes this interaction so important is the fact that Brown continues to seek advice and clarification when it comes to the language we use.

It shouldn’t be so revolutionary, but the fact that a person of influence is looking to learn from the experiences of others is a big positive, and it’s not the first time Brown has led by this kind of example.

Previously, the Queer Eye personality committed to adding captions to his Instagram videos in order to improve the experience of his deaf or hard of hearing followers. 

According to recent statistics, there are 13.9 million disabled people in the UK – and 1 in 3 disabled people feel there’s a lot of prejudice against them. The language we use has a significant impact on the day to day experience of disabled people across the country, and can help to increase the levels of prejudice they experience.

Indeed, whether a disability is mental or physical, the language we use can potentially belittle the lived experience of those with the conditions, potentially worsening the stigma associated.

Previous reports have highlighted the impact that using serious mental health conditions as adjectives can have on those who live with them, such as how describing yourself as “so OCD” when you don’t actually live with the condition can belittle the suffering of people living with the disorder. 

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By using his influence to raise awareness of this problem, Brown gives us the opportunity to confront the language we use to talk about disability – and, importantly, reminds us that it’s okay to ask for clarification if we’re unsure.

Image: Christopher Smith/Netflix

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Lauren Geall

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