In 5th grade, I watched Andy Walsh get his mouth washed out by our teacher, who happened to be a nun, for saying the word nigger. After making him eat almost an entire bar of soap, she taught us where the word came from and how many people suffered from its use. I can remember a little black boy then turning to his white friend and saying, “It’s ok if I use it, but you can’t.” I was confused then, and I’m still confused today. However, these days, I’m more angry than anything else. I can’t for the life of me understand how this word is acceptable in any situation or by any person. What amazes me about all of this is that I truly don’t understand why black people would WANT to use it. Why would you want to use a word that your ancestors fought so hard against being called? Why would you want to disrespect them like that?
I’m teaching my children every day about the amazing colors of all people. I’m teaching them to see beyond race, religion and cultural differences. I’m teaching them that history doesn’t have to dictate how we treat people. Then, I turn on my iPod and play “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green and there it is – no warning on the label or download – just the “n” word being dropped as if it were any other word. But it’s not any other word. It’s a word that can actually get you arrested when used against someone else. A couple in Lake St. Croix Beach were arrested earlier this year and ordered to stay 80 feet away from neighbors after calling them the “n” word in a harassing manner. They weren’t arrested for harassment; they were arrested for a verbal hate crime.
Also, recently, Gwenth Paltrow made news when she tweeted about Jay Z’s concert and wrote, ““Ni**as in Paris for real” in reference to his song that was actually entitled “Ni*** in Paris.” She was called racist and slammed by many readers on Twitter. So, it’s ok to title a song with the word, but not ok for someone who isn’t black to say that title?
|(photo from www.mmxlii.com)|
This isn’t working. I’m trying to teach my children about the hate and horrible history behind the word while they watch people pat each other on the back and use it as a pet name.
It has to stop. I’m no prude – I have been known to put 50 Cent’s “Candyshop” on while driving in the car by myself, pretending that I’m wearing pleather in a nightclub in NY. I’m not saying to end rap or even end cursing in songs. We just have to stop using the “n” word. The problem isn’t just that the word is offensive and full of negative historical elements; the problem is that we are sending a conflicting message to the world. We are saying that it is ok to say the word, but only if you are black. Or Eminem. Could you imagine if Michael Bolton wrote a ballad called, “How Do I Love My “Ni***?” No, it wouldn’t happen. It wouldn’t happen because there is this unwritten rule that it is acceptable to use the word if you happen to be black, however, if you aren’t black then you are being offensive and racist.
There are those that will say that I don’t understand because I’m white. Yes, I am white, but I’m also Italian and Irish and have heard my share of derogatory names. I have heard the words Wop, Mick and Guido more times than I can remember. I have always hated it. I have hated being called it, I have hated when my family calls other family members it in jest. It’s not necessary. Call us by our names – we are Italians, we are Black, we are Jewish, we are Irish, we are what we are. Just say it, don’t insult it.
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From the Judges:Very controversial choice! I have to say that this topic pisses me off, too. Aside from a typo or two, this was a well-written post. I'm interested to see how you do this week with votes. Good job!
-Pinwheels and Poppies
Pretty bold move taking on topic like this. One that you are sure to get some backlash over and probably have some people talking about it. I never understood this either so I'm right there with you though. It's like the Seinfeld episode where Jerry's dentist converts to Judaism seemingly just so he can crack Jewish jokes. Why is it OK for you to disparage your own race or religion? Seems to me that would be an invite for everyone to do so. People will definitely have a lot to say about this topic, will that translate into votes? I hope so.
-Daddy's in Charge?
You have balls, my friend. And I dig that about you. You had the courage to write about something a lot of people think, a lot of people feel, a lot of people say behind closed doors. For that alone I have to commend you. This was no only well-written, but concise as well. for that, you earn bonus points from me. (There are no actual bonus points.) It takes talent to edit yourself and boil it down to a handful of paragraphs. Especially when you're writing about something you're mad about. Great job.
-Daddy Knows Less
This is a great post. I totally agree with you on the topic too - I just don't "get" how it's ok for some people to use it, but not for others. It just doesn't make sense. The post was well written, thought out, and flowed well. Great job!
I agree with you on this topic! But I guess people are just more tolerant when the person saying it is one of their own. I think this post was well-written and I like that it's not a very long post (or at least it didn't seem too long for me). I was with you from start to end. Great job!
-Bay Area Mommy
You have chosen to write about a taboo topic, and I commend you for having the courage to do so. A writer’s opinions are not always popular, and I respect you for tackling this subject. What’s the point in writing if we only say what’s popular? Isn’t it better to make people think? You have put yourself out there and this post will get people talking.
This is a well-written commentary on a subject that many of us find frustrating and confusing. I noticed an error in the beginning, and I am sure you probably kicked yourself after posting it. I am less inclined to dwell on a single typo when the content is actually interesting and well-informed. You did exactly what the assignment asked for, and I appreciate your candid discussion. I have to say that this post is what would make me subscribe. Contrary to popular opinion, we don't all want to read blogs about parenthood. Thank you!
If you are interested in further discussion on this topic, this link to Gloria Naylor's "The Meanings of a Word" might help to provide perspective: http://www.mpsaz.org/mtnview/staff/lmbormann/class1/links/files/the_meanings_of_a_word_text_version.pdf
-Conversate is not a word and other abuses of the English language (guest judge)