So being a black female, one would think that I would be offended by "the N-word," for the standard garden variety bunch of reasons: 1) Using the word equates to a hate crime. 2) We have relationship with the word that reminds us of a brutal and painful history which lasted centuries. 3) My people have been oppressed with use of that word--yada yada yada.
(I even have a problem saying my people because it sounds so exclusive, like I'm drawing a circle in the sand and forcing others to stay out.) In fact, the key to ending racism is eliminating exclusivity. Erase the line. End racism by including everyone and accepting everyone as your own--as your son, as your daughter, as your mother, as your creepy uncle. I mean, c'mon, you tolerate his creepiness by inviting him back to all the family reunions. And you can't tolerate some other completely sane person of another background?)
If you're racist and you want to stop being racist (kind of like being fat and wanting to shed some pounds), then this is the first step you can take.
In fact, I will make that the title for another blog post, "Steps you can take to stop being racist." However, that's for another day.
Back to the N-word:
The way I see it, the moment that word leaves your mouth you've already placed yourself into a category---Idiot--- despite your race, ethnicity, and background. If you're white and you use it, you're an idiot. If you're black and you say it, still an idiot. Being black does not exonerate you from being an idiot if you use the N-word. You're just as bad as your stupid white brethren. You're not forgiven or given any leeway because you're black. Understand this rule, and you'll never be in the wrong in an argument.
I also I don't think the N-word should be buried by the NAACP. My comedian friend, Josh Homer, pointed out to me, that the NAACP is being hypocritical.
"Any organization with the word "colored" in it, isn't allowed to bury the N-word."
Lucy, you're a sellout.
Au contraire my friend. You're selling out every time you use that word. You're selling yourself and "your people" (cringing after writing that) every time you that word leaves your mouth.
One thing I've always heard is, you choose to be offended by that word and any other word that makes your blood boil. For some, that's a difficult realization. So I'll say it again. You choose what you will be offended by.. No one wants to admit being controlled by any one thing, especially a word. The way you see it, someone says the word and you react. But guess what? Newsflash: You have the ability to stop yourself from reacting. You can train yourself out of it--to not affect you, especially if you don't consider yourself one.
So I choose not to let it control me. It never has. I'm not offended by the word and at the same time I choose not to use it to purposely hurt others. It's kinda the same way I think of expletives. For example: I'm not offended by the c-word, but I also choose not to use it, either.
Overall, neither of those words define me. I barely feel comfortable using the words black or woman or comedian. You can find
more of my neurotic ramblings about this subject at my friend's blog.
So how does this N-word relate to comedy?
Chris Rock has a very popular routine involves this very word. He has a very clever approach on this subject by never pointing fingers and saying, "You're a [fill in your choice of expletive here.]" He just makes a comparison by what should be and what shouldn't. He keeps them separate. Let's admire his finesse and grace as he dances through his routine.
Notice he does the Jeff Foxworthy thing. He leaves you (the audience) to assign the bad quality to someone. And as an audience member, you usually assign that quality to someone other than yourself. He'll say, "If you fit these characteristics, then you must be an idiot."
And what sane person is going to say, "Yeah, that's me! I'm the idiot! That sounds about right."
No, of course not. They're going to say, "I know someone exactly like that." And never point the finger at themselves. Thereby showing no blame---no accountability. He made his point and no one gets hurt.
Well, don't think Rock got away scot-free. Don't think he didn't receive any criticism for the "Black people versus N*ggers" routine--because he did. Why? Because he told the untold story, a story that is touchy, bordering offensive. He was opening up old wounds and pouring salt on them. It was criticism from one of our own. Faults that blacks felt should remain within the black community and not broadcast for the world to see. People felt violated because it was a private, unspoken truth. Personally, I don't think it's private if everybody in the room is thinking it. It's the Collective Consciousness, right? The cat's out of the bag and has been for a long time. The problem was no one was choosing to say anything--that is, until Rock.
So when Rock came out with this routine, I felt vindicated. I found myself not only laughing but nodding in agreement at the end of every punchline. Because I wasn't one of them. I'm not a "N-word." I knew I would never be one. I know the friends I associate with will never be. I knew my family members would never be.
My reaction to the N-word is that I don't have one. It's water off of my back. And I really think everyone (all black and white people) needs to take the stance. I think people give the word more power than it deserves. And once we stop using it, the clanging of the chains will fade. The wounds of the past will heal. We will finally be able to rise above it, so that we can forgive and forget, and move on. The problem is there are too many people that want to mire in the past. Those that don't want to forgive or forget or move on. Can't we all just get along?
*+*+*+* If you felt you've learned anything from this post, that means you should SIGN-UP for EMAIL or RSS.