Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The "*N* Word" (and other stupidity)

Clearly, I'm not the only person in the world that thinks using the term "N Word" to refer to the use of the word nigger in this country is particularly stupid.

Fellow blogger and pal, eb, has a lot to say on the subject in "Let's Not Say Nigger".

It seems that there are a lot of people upset at comic Michael Richards these days, because of his wild, racial epithet-spewing rant aimed at two black hecklers a week or so ago. Well, good and decent people should be angered and disgusted at the things he said. What gets me is the response from some people.

Various so-called black leaders have been condemning the man, as they should, but where is the outrage at all of the black comedians and hip-hop artists that scream and shout "nigger" left, right, and center in their act?

Where is the outrage at Jay Z?, where is the outrage at Busta Rhymes?, Where is the outrage at Public Enemy, and so many other so-called "artists" that spew racist hatred and garbage at their own people?

I am sick of it, friends. Sick unto death at the outrage poured out on some people but ignored when it comes from our own!

Bill Cosby has spoken at length on this and other similar subjects over the last few years, only to be attacked from all sides for having the courage to say something, publicly, that should have been said for the last 40 years.

Fortunately, Bill Cosby isn't alone. There have been other writers and speakers, most notably; Debra Dickerson; John McWhorter; and Juan Williams that have had the courage to speak out when so many people would rather they keep silent.

Michael Richards' screed was disgraceful, and I hope he pays a price for it. However, somewhere down the line, black people have to stop giving white people the idea that it is alright to say nigger by calling each other nigger all the time.

Words are powerful things... but our national conversation on race can't, or at least shouldn't, start and end on the use of a single word.


Tasha said...

Thank you. Very well said.

Grimm said...

I'll be honest with you - I absolutely hate the word, no matter who says it.

I have often wondered about the double-standard, but as your said, those who have criticized it are often ridiculed for doing so.

Great post.

Gunfighter said...

You are welcome, Tasha.

Grimm... Glad you hate the word. I do, too.

Elizabeth said...

My understanding of the whole reclaiming of the word is that 'niggah' is different than 'nigger.' Rap stars use the former to show brotherhood amongst their peeps. Of course there's the whole thing that white people can't say 'niggah' only black people can. That I don't get.

I'm all for the reclaiming of words. 'Dyke' has almost been completely reclaimed. To older lesbians it will probably always be a 'bad' word but to the younger ones, it's just another word.

I imagine 'nigger' will never get to that point considering it's repulsive history, but I don't necessarily think rap stars should stop saying 'niggah' because as you say, the discussion doesn't hinge on one word. It goes far deeper.

Kelley said...

I agree with eb's post. Whenever I hear someone say "the N Word" it sounds so disgustingly condescending to me. You won't hear any news anchors referring to "the F word", because that sounds like playground dialogue. They simply refer to it as an "obscenity" and leave it at that.

I don't know how I feel about the whole "reclaiming" idea. I think hateful words still sound hateful, even when they have supposedly been cleansed by popular culture's ironic use of them.

Great post, Gunfighter.

Gunfighter said...

The notion of "reclaiming" is a load of crap, Kelley... at least thats what I think.

Anali said...

I don't like the word. I don't say it or write it, as you know from my recent post. I hope that artists will curb their usage, but it's each individual's choice.

I don't think the "reclaiming" of the word is doing what some people originally thought.

It's bad enough when black people use it, but the increased use of the word has made many non blacks, feel way too comfortable saying it. And that is not a good thing.

Janet M. Kincaid said...

I have to say, Amen, on this one, too. I've always found this word and its usage--regardless of the group using it--repulsive and degrading. The "N word" ranks right up there with the "C word," as far as I'm concerned. As I woman, I'm not at all interested in reclaiming that one. Some words aren't meant to be reclaimed and should simply be expunged.

Degrading language is the purview of petty, narrow minds.

PunditMom said...

Thanks for this great post. You are definitely right, that we need more national conversation on a lot of things. If only the Michael Richards incident could start the kind of debate you call for.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I agree with Janet here. She said everything that I was thinking.

I especially hate the word as my husband uses it to call Brazil nuts "nigger toes." It makes me so mad and he won't stop. I don't bring nuts home anymore. Nope. My way of sticking it to the man.

vasilisa said...

Thank you for writing this. I have often wondered why is the word used so frequently in the entertainment media... It really doesn't matter who says -- doesn't get any better just because it comes out of Chris Rock rather than Michael Richards...

Golden Silence said...

Michael Richards' screed was disgraceful, and I hope he pays a price for it. However, somewhere down the line, black people have to stop giving white people the idea that it is alright to say nigger by calling each other nigger all the time.

I agree. These same people want to complain when something like this happens, but when celebrities like Cosby speak out about it, they want to call foul. These people are obviously embarrassed by their behavior, and don't like being called on it. Eventually they'll be called out so much that it will drive them to want to change their ways.

Lawyer Mama said...

I heard an interesting piece on NPR last week about this topic by a young black man. He talked about the "difference" between nigger and niggah too, but frankly I don't see much of a difference. I can't stand the word no matter how it's said.

Gunfighter said...

LM, the guy in the interview is an ignorant fool.