20 July 2008

The N-word

So apparently, Jesse Jackson was overheard saying 'nigger' on the TV the other day.

First, a note on words. 'Nigger' is a word like any other word, that gains power and meaning when it is said in a context. If Jesse Jackson said it, and I am referring to what he said and not calling anyone anything, I'm going to use the word as it is in the same way that I won't say 'the f-word' for 'fuck' or 'the sh-word' for 'shit'. We all know what you're saying--let's admit that there are no bad words, only bad uses for words.

Now, the word 'nigger' is one of those words that I agree white people should not be saying to refer to black people. Period. There's no reason to use it in that way because it will only hurt someone and there's no way I can conceive of a non-black person calling a black person this and it being okay. You are free to comment with a situation if you think of it.

Whether or not black people should call each other 'nigger' is something that was being debated on The View the other day, and it caught my ear because everyone was picking on the hot conservative woman they have on the show who was saying that black people (Jesse Jackson) shouldn't be using this word to refer to other black people and everyone was telling her she was an idiot and couldn't understand and she started crying.

My opinion on it is quite simple: it's not my place to say anything about how another ethnic group should or shouldn't refer to people in their own community. My opinion (as a non-member of any other community) doesn't really matter and it's a waste of time to think about it. Hassleback has no business telling anyone what they can and can't call each other.

Last week, I saw another something on YouTube that ties in. Some reporters were asking a bunch of suburban white women who were waiting to see John McCain speak what they thought about Barack Obama. One woman, who said just a mouthful of unintelligent bullshit, said something particularly ignorant that I wanted to highlight. In commenting on Obama's former pastor, she said, If a white minister said any of that stuff (and she didn't specify what she was referring to) about black people, he would be stoned. No one would stand for it.

Ah, yes, ignorant, white suburban woman, No shit. You hit the nail on the head. Minorities and majorities are different.

I don't get this mentality that people like this seem to have that now A) things are equal and B) slavery and segregation and racism are all in the past so black people should just get over it. It's just a fundamental misunderstanding of history, and if you don't understand the difference between Jeremiah Wright preaching about the Tuskegee Experiments and David Duke talking about White Supremacy, someone should take your driver's license away.

(Also, by the way, I remember reading a Times article about the disparity about income between men and women and it starts, apparently, with the fact that men are much, much more likely to negotiate a contract and ask for a higher salary than women. But I digress.)

Frankly, I think white people in America should stop talking and just listen a little bit when it comes to race relations in the States. Why in the world would you get all hot and bothered and cry foul when a black person uses the word 'nigger'? Are you really that terrified of reverse racism? Do you have any idea what racism even is?

Some of us white people have worked hard, I agree, but we are the benefactors of a whole system which hegemonized/ hegemonizes to our benefit. Being able to attend well-funded good schools is not the same as being a poor, hard-working minority student attending a poorly-funded, shitty school with a special program for talented students. Just because you have a black friend who lives in the suburbs with you and works at the same company as you and likes George Bush does not hold water as 'evidence' against the statistical proof that minorities in America have not yet reached any sort of equal status.

But I'll tell you what--a President Obama is certainly a step in the right direction.
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