You can’t use that Word! Part V

“White people…you can use the N-word.

– Kriss, “

“Yup you heard me. I am now in full support of white people using the N-word. Let me explain. See for the longest time we blacks have told whites that they can’t use the “N-word” and we came up with all these complicated rules for not only why we can say it but how we can say it.N word acceptable

‘We drop the –er and replace it with an –a and it’s now a term of endearment’

‘We’ve taken the word back and now own it’

“You know you’ve heard such things. Truth is, it’s all really bullshit. The real reason black don’t want white people to say the N-word or any of its variations is that when most of us hear a white person say it, the ghosts of our ancestors take over our body and we get the incredibly strong urge to slap the living shit out whoever said it. It could be our boss, a good friend or even a random white person on the street. Doesn’t matter who it is, if they are white and they say it; the urge to slap is coming. It’s really that simple.

‘Well how come when black people say it, you don’t get the same urge’

“Well, some black folks do. Yes some black people have a problem with the word completely. The NAACP even went through the trouble of ‘burying’ it in a mock funeral (what a waste space these fuckers are). I respect black people who have a problem with the word being use by black people. I completely avoid saying it around my elders because they lived the civil rights movement and that word has a history behind it that they lived. And you know what? Sometimes I do get an urge to slap a fellow African American who is using that word. Little teenagers screaming ‘Nigga this’, ‘Nigga that’ on a crowded train or in a mall make me want to trip them up, take off my belt, whip their asses and then wash their mouths out with soap. I try to avoid using the word in public or in ‘mixed company’ because I don’t want any of my white friends thinking that they now have a ‘black cool pass’ to use the word when they want to.

“Now that said, the real reason I don’t get the urge to slap a black person every time I hear them say the ‘N-word’ is that the image of them holding a whip and screaming at me to pick cotton doesn’t pop into my head when they say it. I don’t get the image of them telling me and ‘my kind’ to go to the back of the bus. If you’re white and you’re really wondering why so many blacks are against you saying the word, blame your ancestors. They fucked it up for you.”

Kudos to Kriss for saying what I feel should be obvious. In fact, up to this point in his discourse (or diatribe?) I entirely agree with his sentiments. The main reason being that he echoes what I have been asserting. He does not say exactly that we give the word too much power but his reasons for “allowing” whites to use the word nigger are essentially the same. He also goes on to say that if white folk do decide to use the word that it does come with consequences, including the possibility you just may get whacked upside the head with a two-by-four depending on why, how and where you use it. He adds if you do suffer certain consequences, job loss, being beaten to a pulp, losing sponsors or a profession association or gig, then he does not want to hear you crying about a damn thing. And I certainly concur with that thinking. Look he is right about our ancestors, at least our so-called American ancestors, those Anglo Saxon Christian Europeans that originally settled this country; they did fuck it up for all of us with what they did due to their class, as well as personal, greed in the pursuit for higher profitability.N word 2

Kriss also says, “Use a derogatory word and people are going to have a negative reaction. And yes, it’s still a derogatory word. Yes some people use it as a term of endearment (like the word ‘bitch’) but most of the times it’s not being used in a positive light. For every time I’ve said ‘My Nigga’, there have been ten times I’ve said ‘I can’t believe this nigga just did/said this dumb shit’. The N-word is the spicy mustard you add to the top of a disrespectful statement to give it that extra kick. There have been plenty of arguments that have escalated out of control simply from adding the word ‘nigga’ to the end. And this is the word you white people want access to use? Hey, cool. Fine. Do you homey. Use the word. But again, when you get your ass kicked or have to deal with a bunch of angry letters/emails/phone calls or get fired from your job, just know…you brought it on yourself.

“There are plenty of words in the English language and you know you don’t HAVE to use that word. And all white people know that if they use it, they’re in for a shit storm. So either don’t use it or use it and brace yourself for impact. Either way I’m tired of having this conversation every other month. I’m tired of white people acting like they don’t know the history behind the word. You know the history behind it. You know why black people are upset when white people use it (even if you want to pretend to be clueless, you know). Therefore by using it, you are now accepting the consequence. So when you say it I’m just assuming you want a punch in the face from the nearest black person. Cool?”

And I understand and respect Kriss’ perspective and opinion but here is where we tend to diverge a tad. While I emphatically agree that “The N-word is the spicy mustard you add to the top of a disrespectful statement to give it that extra kick” I do not necessarily agree with his thinking that there are other words that available to use and that white folk don’t need to use that word. Sometimes the word is exactly the word that is needed due to certain circumstances.

John Lennon’s song (which was inspired by a statement that his wife Yoko Ono once said) “Woman is the Nigger of the World” would never have the impact that it did without the word nigger in that song. Listen to the words again (or for the first time) and tell me which word would work better. I bet you cannot.

Touré Neblet, better known as Touré co-host of MSNBC’s show The Cycle (Accomplished author who has written five books, including “I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon” and “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? What It Means to Be Black Now”; host of the Fuse show, The Hiphop Shop and On the Record and is a professor at NYU’s Clive Davis School of Recorded Music) has said that, “When John Lennon wrote ‘Woman Is the Nigger of the World’ that word choice is artistically essential: no other word would’ve made the point as powerfully. He uses that word hoping to challenge the world.”

Interestingly, on August 16, 2012, on The Cycle, Touré caused a controversy by stating that when then Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called President Barack Obama “angry,” that Romney was engaging in the “niggerization” of the president. He apologized for using the word the next day. I did not hear the comment. I have no idea in what specific context and tone Touré made his comments but something about him apologizing, whether he was coerced into the apology or made it freely, saddens me. My inclination is that he said the words that he did because he sincerely believed that was what he wanted to say. And, if that was the case then why should he apologize for using the word niggerization? Now if he had had an epiphany and saw that what he said was inaccurate or wrong, then, fine, an apology to Romney (or whomever) is definitely in order. But, if, he meant what he said then it is truly a sad thing that the need to be politically correct so overshadows what people are able to say and not say.

The movie Full Metal Jacket (1987) depicts black and white US marines enduring boot camp and then later fighting together in Vietnam. Nigger is used by soldiers of both races throughout the movie as they joke with one another and as expressions of bravado. The racial, or should I say the skin tone, differences among the men is seen as secondary to their shared exposure to the dangers of the situation they exist, which is potential death at any given moment. One character in the movie, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, says, “There is no racial bigotry here. We do not look down on niggers, kikes, wops or greasers, because here you are all equally worthless.” That one sentence sums up their situation exactly and concisely: No one life is worth more than any other life therefore words at that point are meaningless. The thing that matters is whether each man has the others back, trust, so worrying about who is a nigger or kike or wop is the least of their worries. They accept and realize it is the mettle of the man that counts and what he does when the time to act is at hand rather than a bunch of words they call one another.R Lee Emery

Returning to Touré, he says that he “… defends the right for artists onstage to use nigger. (and) by stage I mean movies, TV, theater, stand-up comedy, visual art, and music… The stage is a special space where normal human laws and customs apply differently.” In other words, nigger used as an artistic, philosophical, educational or stage presentation is acceptable when used by white people and only then. I disagree. The point is sometimes the word is the word that is needed. But, I do agree with Kriss when he says if you use the word then be ready and able to accept the consequences of whatever may occur. In other words use the damn word but use some intelligence in how you use it, when you use it and where you use it.

The fact is we have, since the Reconstruction era after the Civil War and the beginning of Jim Crowism, endured approximately 150 plus years of indoctrination and propaganda that has molded both the black and white consciousness and how we perceive the word nigger. This long and powerful indoctrination, this conditioning, cannot be changed with some magical swoop of the hand and a declaration “hear ye, hear ye, ’tis all good now. Nigger is just a word and now anyone can say or use it.” There is an old saw that says old habits die hard. And, if we understand this saw then we know that it will take time for our societal conditioning to change. While l still believe we give the word much, too much, power and that we need to understand this fact and move on, I also believe that until we fully evolve and develop our consciousnesses to the point where we can deal openly and intelligently with the whirlwind of emotions that surrounds a word, this word, and then move on to deal with the other real issues of racism (ethnocentricism), poverty, job opportunities or lack of, feeding ourselves in our world society, then we need to be very careful how, when and where we use that damn word. But…. yes, you absolutely can use it. Just remember it is loaded and it can have as dire a consequence if you just shoot it off from your lips without some thoughtful consideration applied as if you had just shot aimlessly into a crowd of people with a loaded pistol.Marley

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

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