“If a white man wants to lynch me, that’s his problem. If he’s got the power to lynch me, that’s my problem. Racism is not a question of attitude; it’s a question of power.”
– Stokely Carmichael
A Kike, A honky, A nigger and A spic walk into a bar…..I guess the old axiom about opening with a joke is not always a good thing.
Recently; I’ve been bothered by words–no they haven’t come to life, chased me down the street and tried to devour me alive but the effect has not been any less traumatic, yeah! I know a drama King moment bear with me.
I really thought as social media had a few years under its belt the collective discussion would turn richer and more purposeful, all I see are angry rants, angry echo-chambers, Twitter basically turn into a platform for online bullies.
Ok we need to go back a bit in time. My generation had taken the N-word ( lets use it as political correctness demands) and sort of defused it—I really don’t know, who was the first person to do it or if it was a grand plan to take the power away from bigots, all I know is that in high-school no matter your color or your nationality, you were a N*gger. Latino/Hispanic dude walks down the hall and hi-five’s his Asian N*gger, African American kid meets up with his white homies and they greet their N*gger—math geek sees jock with his cheerleader girlfriend and laments, ‘that N*gger gets all the honeys.’ these are vignettes but you get the point.
We all leave high school and learn, most know it in advance, that in the real word you should use standard American English. Whether one was now in college or working certain colloquiums, even the ones we used as a social conscience, were not acceptable. I remember traveling back and forth to Long Island, circa 1999/2000 and seeing kids go to or come back from school on the train. Most were wearing what city kids wore five or ten years before, I think most of you would characterize it as rapper wear, baggy designer clothes, baseball caps slanted sideways, large gold-plated jewelry. To me that wasn’t unusual as even on the most snobbish private schools kids would turn into rappers on their way home and I’m not talking about the Vanilla Ice kind, these kids would have grills on ( I think this guy is to blame)
them if the school would allow it. What bugged me was that I saw quite a few adults give them death stares or during one incident tell them off. One day I was on a rather packed train and was sitting on one of those annoying group seats, you know the kind that face each other rather than in cue like the rest of the seats, and three kids were in front of me talking a bit loud when a lady from across the aisle starts barraging them–there was nothing to justify it, other than their volume was loud but no! she was taking to them about the way they were dressed AND in particularly that they had the audacity to call each other N*gger; actually by then the word had morphed into N*gga.
I kept my headphones on as it was none of my business. In the next few weeks I heard comments from other passengers about some kids, some blamed the parents, some blamed rap music, some were just simply aghast—if you think that no one has the right to tell an African-American or other minority what to wear you’re right, except the outrage was not directed at minority kids it was at white kids. It really bothered white suburbanites that their kids were identifying with African-American culture.
Oprah jumped into the discussion at the time, and as someone who is from the civil movement era she had A LOT to say about it. I think that had a lot to do with it and the ensuing ‘political correct’ backlash from suburbanites— none were saying, I marched along with African-Americans during the civil right or any such things, what I heard was you shouldn’t say that because it’s ugly, which it is, but they didn’t seem to have a clue as to why or have anything substantial to teach their kids. Not long after that I noticed that not only the N-word had morphed into N*gga it was not permissible for anyone other than African-Americans.
Personally I don’t like the word, you can never scrub it clean from the hateful intent. My generation tried and in that context at the time it was ok. I, besides my own sensibilities, defer in cases like this to the African-American community, they are the ones that suffered hate since the time their ancestors were abducted to the time mass murderer Dylan Roof opened fire on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church congregation.
So today when I saw that Obama, not one of my favorite people for sometime now, has been criticized and trolled over using the N-word to make an excellent point on racism ( http://www.vox.com/2015/6/22/8824113/obama-n-word-maron), I knew I had to broach this LOADED keg topic.
So lets try this again, politically correct adjusted for frail sensibilities:
A Jew, A white guy, An African-American and A Latino/Hispanic (Latinos in reality can be of Jewish, white or Afro background, hell even Asiatic ) walk into a bar…..don’t be silly it’s 2015 no way you’ll get them all in one place with all the division happening–did you really think racism is gone?