(This posting written with an apology to my friend, D*.)
My friend D* is a white guy who doesn’t understand why black people call each other “nigger” (or more likely “nigga”), but white people can’t.
Yes, this question again.
D*, I’m going to attempt really, really hard to break this down for you, because I believe you’re honestly trying to understand what this is all about, and I respect that.
So here goes.
But first, a small history lesson.
Small, because I’m no historian.
However, Liz Regosin, a professor at St. Lawrence University, is a historian. And a couple of months ago, I attended a lecture with Regosin as the speaker. The topic was “Abraham Lincoln and Emancipation.”
The lecture was excellent. I learned things I hadn’t known. Such as, prior to the Civil War, Lincoln made this statement:
“Blacks and whites should not have perfect social and political equality.”
And this statement:
“Blacks and whites are not equal in color or moral and intellectual endowment; these differences keep us from living together.”
(Hmph. I guess Frederick Douglass was just a flippin’ freak of nature.)
These statements are startling in their boldness. They are startling in their denial of the humanity of black Americans.
And they reflect a worldview, or a belief system, that formed the foundation for race relations in these here great United States.
In my humble opinion.
In FY 2012, the EEOC fielded 33,512 charges of race discrimination, 10,883 charges of national origin discrimination, and 2,662 charges of color discrimination. Considering all the billions of workers in the US, these numbers may seem insignificant. However, I assure you that if you’ve ever been the victim of race, national origin, or color discrimination (I have), the situation wasn’t insignificant to you. I’d also bet cold hard cash that every single one of my readers of color has either experienced or knows someone who has experienced some form of race discrimination in the workplace that went unreported. Cold hard cash.
And I haven’t even touched on the umpteen numbers of microinsults and microaggressions that people of color experience each and every day. Just ask Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips, both detained for shopping while black.
I’m not mentioning this stuff for the heck of it, and I’m certainly not mentioning it to stir up trouble. The point is, there is history here, there is a way that we’ve been taught to interact and view each other, and you could literally jump up and down while pounding your chest and swearing to God until you’re blue in the face that none of this has anything to do with you, a modern day white man, and I will simply respond that you, sir, are a liar.
You are no more capable of being unaffected by the culture than anyone else. We’re all in this mess together. We’ve all been tainted. Period.
So back to the n-word.
It’s simple really. If you are white, just say no. Historically, white people have used the word to demean, denigrate, and dehumanize black Americans. That’s a fact. And like it or not, you D* are a part of that history. As am I.
Perhaps it is hypocritical. Perhaps there is a double standard. (By the way, that’s not my opinion.)
But even if I were to agree that a double standard exists, I’m still perplexed as all get out why it bothers you so damn much. Are you just pissed that someone would have the gall to tell you what you can and can’t say? I don’t get it. Maybe you can write your own article, and then I’ll gain some understanding.
In the meantime, consider this.
There are women who affectionately refer to their girlfriends as “bitches.” (Personally, I have no love for the b-word.)
Now, if a group of women friends are out having dinner, loudly laughing and teasing each other, and one playfully warns the other “Alright bitch, you’re about to cross the line,” is it okay for the server (male or female of any ethnicity) to saunter up to their table, pen and pad in hand wanting to know, “Which one of you bitches is ready to order first?”
Context is everything. Relationship is everything. History as powerful as ours can never be made invalid.
Please D*, just say no.