Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Primer on the N-Word

Typically speaking when I hear an position I am probably going to disagree with and do a general face palm at it, I make a list of acceptable arguments and explanations from the opposition. Fox news reported a story about the teabags denying they used the N-word. Hey no problem. I wasn't there at the protests immediately before and after the health care protests, and most of what I heard about it was hearsay with no tape. That right there is a reasonable response, not to say I believe them but its a reasonable response.

Then just for kicks I went to the comments. Let me say this. Almost all internet commentators myself included are slightly unhinged. I got comments comparing redneck to the N-word. Its close. but not the same. There were also comments asking why black people can use the word and white people can't. Now this is not the definitive end all answer but I will try to explain.

First off let me blast away some racial myths. Racism is not dead. Race in some ways still matters in America. There are still people both black and white who were around during Jim Crow. And although I know that most white people I hang with weren't born during that time and aren't racist (I hope) and don't blame them for Jim Crow, I and a lot of Black people still have an awareness and general anger about the following

  • Slavery (Lets localize this to not getting paid for a fair days work not the other consequences of slavery for now.)
  • Physical brutality during slavery
  • Raping of Black Women During of Slavery
  • Separation of the black family unit during slavery
  • The inability to sue over wrong doing(like rape) or have any rights during slavery
  • Lynching which occurred well into the 20th century. One occurred in 1981.
  • The taking away of the black vote and general political power
  • Jim Crow Laws and Segregation
  • Economic and Social Disenfranchisement which resulted from Jim Crow Laws and Slavery
  • Police Brutality
  • Stereotyping
and now for the intangible one that
relates directly to this argument folks
  • The general feeling white people had throughout history that they were by definition the superior race. I mean read some of the racist political speeches between the 1880s and around the 1970s. It will make you want to pull a Bobby Knight and throw a chair.

You see the problem is when pointing out the idea of white superiority they would use the N-Word... a lot. So much so that the N-word has become a symbol of the idea of white supremacy. Now I'm black and I generally don't use the word but, if I did most people would take for granted that I wasn't suggesting that black people are morally, culturally and intellectually inferior to white people. And lets face it some white people still do feel that way.

Some folks like to say those days are back in the past and that we are all just people, but the distrust of blacks and whites was not so long ago. The times before the civil rights movement are still within living memory. My dad saw the Detroit riots of 67. Not only that but the economic consequences of not only the riot but segregation and the idea of white superiority in general can still be seen in both Detroit and the rest of the country.

It doesn't help that in many places, this is especially true in metro Detroit, America has decided to re-segregate itself.

I can go on in a general rant on race but eh Its too early in the morning. Point is, white folks when you use the N-word you bring all of that up again. So just don't.

P.S. If you want a really well done comedic primer or African American racial politics in contemporary America you got to give it to South Park's "Apologies to Jesse Jackson.

"Look Token I did everything in my power to make this right. You have no reason to still be mad"
"I have every reason to be mad. You just don't get it."
"I'm not responsible for what my dad did"
"No but you can't just pretend it didn't happen either."

And No "Jesse Jackson is not the emperor of black people."

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