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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Modest Proposal: Freedom to Use the N-Word


A Modest Proposal: Freedom to Use the N-Word

It seems like the P.C. Police are at it again, infringing on the God-given First Amendment rights of an insignificant Conservative talk show host.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger announced yesterday that she will be leaving her nationally syndicated radio talk show (but not retiring--she wants to make that clear), out of frustration of too many people trampling on her rights to speak her mind without people getting all up-in-arms and angry about things that she says. This comes in the wake of an episode last week when she repeatedly used the work "nigger" over 10 times. Or was it 7 times. Whatever-- she said the word "nigger" a bunch of times, when talking about how frustrating is was that Blacks can use the word all the time, but Whites are "not allowed".

This is the argument that I use to hear from kids in grade school. I went to predominately White suburban schools from 3rd to 12th grade. The White kids I went to school with (I was one of a small number of Blacks in the schools) complained about two things. The first being their lack of understanding as to why there was a Black History Month, and no White History month (my answer to that was "EVERY MONTH is White History Month"). The second complain was why they were not allowed to use the word "nigger". It seems as if a great many White people, then and now, have absolutely no concept or perspective of American History. Not surprising. So I would like to address this issue once-and-for-all, just so there are no longer any misunderstandings.

Dear White People,

You are, have always been, and always will be able to use the word "nigger". Period. The only people that have drawn a thick, hard line in its usage, both for and against, are White People. There was a time in America when you used to word often-- almost constantly-- when addressing or speaking of Blacks. It was White People, in the wake of international attention from Southern White reaction (or repulsion) towards the Civil Rights Movement, that decided to suspend widespread usage of the word, to save face. And it was the rap/hip-hop community, in the late 80s, that pushed the word back into the nation consciousness as a way of taking control of it. So now, that the work "nigger" has been transformed from 'nasty' to 'neat', White would like to be able to join in the fun.


For many Whites, particularly younger Whites, that have no perspective or interest in history, you are now hearing your favorite Black artists use the word in you favorite songs. You're hearing your favorite Black comedians, or your favorite Black actors, using the word in movies. And you want to be able to sings those songs, or do those bits, or quote those movies. White kids that don't understand the history, use it...and may unexpectedly get attacked or called racist. Older Whites that know their history, and understand the context of the word, are torn. You may not be a racist, but you may feel insecure about saying the word-- especially when there are Black folks around. And racist Whites, well, you guys don't give a shit-- you'll say it in spite of the reaction; unless you're a coward, and are surrounded by other Whites that you feel will have your back (like at a teabagger rally, for example).


The recent made-up controversy about the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" is very similar to this issue. You don't seem to understand how people-- these Muslim people-- could be so insensitive as to not understand why it would be wrong for them to build a Mosque (or community center, which is what it really is) two blocks away from the site of the World Trade Center Towers. You may think it's insane that people don't understand why it's so crazy for them to even consider that. Just as Black folks (and rational White folks) understand why it may be offensive to use the word "nigger". I mean, there are no slaves anymore, right? Slavery is over, and the Civil Rights Movement is over, right? And Blacks are allowed to use it, right? So why shouldn't White people be able to use it, right? It doesn't matter, in the case of Muslims, that the radical fringe element is miniscule in comparison with the whole of the Muslim world. So, should it matter that at one time in America (as recently as 60 years ago), Whites lynched/murdered/raped Black men, women, and children, all the while calling them "niggers"?

So now, White folks like Dr. Laura feel as if they are being attacked. Poor Dr. Laura, right? The only thing she was guilty of was saying "nigger" while being White. Think of the countless number of White folks that have been assaulted, either verbally or physically, for using a word that their ancestors used while verbally, or physically, assaulting Blacks.  Hell, there are still a great many number of White folks that use the word without shame-- knowing full well what it means. Does it matter that White racists to this day still say "nigger"? Sure, it doesn't really do much to identify which White people to trust-- but why should that stop them from using the word? Maybe, just maybe, we all need to bend over a bit further to accomodate those poor, unfortunate Whites that are missing out on what so many non-Whites get to enjoy.

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Satire aside, there is a difference between racist and non-racist Whites using the word "nigger". In this political climate, when so many White conservatives pundits and politicians are using race and religion to gain votes and political points, it's very easy to create controversy. Politics is a dirty game, especially when race and religion are involved. It says a lot when those are the only tools you have to win a debate or an election.


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