Dear Gossips,

“It’s just words.”

Is it ever “just” words? What can be achieved by words? What is the damage that can be done by “just” words? I read an interview the other day, before “it’s just words” became an excuse, at The Atlantic with director Ava DuVernay. Her new documentary 13th premiered on Netflix last week. It explores the connection between slavery and mass incarceration but, as the writer, Juleyka Lantigua-Williams, observers, “it’s also a gorgeous, evocative, and maddening exploration of words: of their power, their roots, their permanence. It’s about those who wield those words and those made to kneel by them.” During the discussion, Ava and Juleyka talk about how ideas are labelled, who gets to label them, and how the act of labelling becomes control, because those labels are often used in service of oppression and inequality. Words on a piece of paper can become an instrument of institutionalised subjugation. Words in a locker room can become weapons in the bedroom.

Click here to read more of the conversation between Ava DuVernay and Juleyka Lantigua-Williams.

Yours in gossip,