Posted by: nquest2xl | July 20, 2008

The N*gga and the veil

“Probably the single greatest problem between blacks and whites in America is that we are forever witness to each other’s great shames . . . Of course, shame is made worse, even unbearable, when there is a witness, the eye of an “other” who is only too happy to use our shame against us.”Shelby Steele

I have, perhaps, a complicated view on this “issue.” Typically, I don’t say the word. Anytime, really. Frankly, I don’t like the word but that’s a personal thing. I grew up hearing and, at times, using the word myself. When I heard the word used amongst family, friends… I heard it used in a variety of contexts. Sometimes it was said to purposely demean. Other times out of frustration. Still, other times used as casually and as endearing, even laudatory like “man, you’re crazy”; said like the title of the Richard Pryor album, “That Nigger’s Crazy.”

I’m grown now.

Since I don’t say the word and it’s rarely said in my house, when I’m either among my family back home or wherever or with my wife’s family, the mere sound of the word leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But I don’t feel offended by it. No, not in the least — when I hear Black people use it. And, really, I don’t care to discuss the issue. I think I get more pissed off by it being the kind of issue the media wants to make it out to be.

So don’t let the picture of Jabari Asim’s book fool you. The “Who Can Use It?” question is stupid. It’s completely inappropriate just like the “Should America Pay Reparations?” question. These questions are raised when they never should be considered legitimate questions in the first place. Whether White folks can use the word or are supposedly given mixed signals when Black folks can use it and they can’t is NOT something that’s open for discussion.

Jesse said the word… SO WHAT?!?!??

ENTER > Michael Eric Dyson – Part I

(((1 min. 30 sec. mark)))

Michael Eric Dyson – Part II

The first video clip was from Tavis Smiley’s 2005, State of the Black Union where Dyson “made a spectacle of himself” (what Obama said about Rev. Wright’s “performance” at the National Press Club). I did essentially agree with Dyson’s former stance. Former because…

I have decided to retire the use of the “N” word in public… I have decided to stop using it for two reasons: many black folk who otherwise supported my work and agreed with my perspectives were thrown off by my public identification with the downtrodden and the debased of our race through use of the term. Despite all the good they thought I did, they believed that the use of the word made it difficult for them to fully embrace me.

Finally, Rev. Jesse Jackson, after we both attended Johnnie Cochran’s funeral… asked me to refrain from publicly using the “N” word because it obscured what he termed the effectiveness of my intellectual wittiness… So, I have decided to refrain from public use of the “N” word where I cannot explain the context of the word.

For the record, Jesse’s use wasn’t exactly public (and his beef or advocacy is not estranged to “personal responsibility” or calling out absent/irresponsible Black fathers).

In the 1970s, Jesse Jackson said, “You are not a man because you can make a baby. You’re only a man if you can raise a baby, protect a baby and provide for a baby.”

The only way we know anything about it is because Fox lifted the veil (and some question whether their “hot mic” constitutes eavesdropping). Just consider rap music Fox News’ when Fox News wasn’t cool. The open, public use in music has lifted the veil and all fake outrage hell has broken loose with White people feigning offense over that god awful, excruciating and unequal mouth arrest imposed on them.

Imagine the anger. After years of being told they couldn’t use the word, they found out that Black people have been using it the whole time. Man do they feel cheated! (roll eyes)

I’m almost 40. That means one of my favorite “Black Power” songs, “Niggers Are Scared of Revolution” is about 40 years old, too. Richard Pryor’s album, about 35 years old. Both public. Both on wax – i.e. audio media – just like rap music. So what’s the difference now?

White folks are seeing our shame. So what?

We are human. Fully human for all that entails and should be respected as such. And since there seems to be a decided lack of attention and questioning of other people who use slurs that were used against them by other people on themselves… (White people do it all the time. I’ve witnessed it right along with all kinds of Black people. Ethnic jokes about the Irish. Pollocks. From “white trash” to redneck, WHITENESS IS NOT INVISIBLE no matter what White people think.)

Double-standards? I don’t want to hear it. The very question/issue surrounding the word is an attempt to hold Black people to a standard NO ONE ELSE is held to.

Bottom line: I don’t scratch where I don’t itch and I’m not ashamed of every beautiful inch of me and my people even when I see a pimple in the mirror or when someone (with some issues) sees behind the veil that only existed because Blacks and Whites in America have and continue to live in two different worlds largely due to the wishes of White folk.

The whole purpose of the word was for Black folks to be ashamed of themselves. The position they were in, etc. I’ll be damned if White people are going to ever use the word to make me feel ashamed. I don’t have any such complex. Some Black people do (worrying about what White people think or pretending as if White people aren’t responsible for their own behavior when someone White decides to use the word).




Ta-Nehisi Coates – “Leave The N-Word Alone

All About Race – “Elizabeth, dry your eyes and “Just Say No!” to the N-word

Stuff White People Do – “insist on occupying center-stage


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