Quotidian Quest

N-Word

Category: personal
#misc

Well, it seems like even Paula Deen has said it too. And it looks like a lot of people have a strong reaction to this. Her sponsor has dropped her and even the food network has severed her ties with her. "People" -I use the term loosely- are going back on forth on forums about how it's unfair to do this to her because some of the best selling rappers use the word like a particle of speech.

Personally, I think the outrage is too much. Doing this isn't helping race relations.

History?

I'm not going to give you a history lesson on the N-word. Most people in America already know what it means. If you don't know what it means, take some time and watch Roots or Django Unchained.

All I can think about are my own experiences.

My experiences

People yelling it out of cars

Most of the times that I've heard the N-word shouted at me was when I had someone drive past me and yell the word from a moving vehicle. I've had people throw things at me as they were doing it.

One instance was when our neighbor's boyfriend had yelled it at me after I had threatened to call the cops on him for yelling at his girlfriend.

None of these people knew anything about me other than I was black.

Children Yelling at Each Other

Sometimes, when I take my kids to the park I hear some of the younger kids say it to each other. Sometime to intimidate and anger each other and other times as a general insult.

I sometimes see how some of the children will gang up on the other and use it in hopes that the one being teased (usually a smaller kid and never the largest) will fight back.

I wonder if the kids are mimicking TV or just there life at home and feel sad for them that this is what they do when their parents are around.

Entertainment

I enjoy a lot of things, like music and movies. One of my favorite things to do is to watch a movie or listen to some stand up. In fact, some of my favorite comedians are Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle.

All three of them have had jokes that can be considered derogatory1.

When it comes to movies, a lot of the "black films" that I've seen in recent years have had the phrase "Nigga, please" or some kind of derivative.

I remember a couple times, when I've had "discussions" with my parents about how I don't "talk black".

Conference

Honestly, the most memorable use of the N-word that I've heard happened when I was at a NSBE conference back in 2003.

The speaker had painted an image of how a group of runaway slaves had been captured by some kind of bounty hunters and how some of them were going to be killed as an example. One of the runaways had just given birth and was pleading to be spared.

The slaver shot her dead.

Then stomped the baby.

And said "Nigger".

As if it was less than trash.

This was a powerful image, because it hit me that the N-word is the same word people would use to kill as to chide.

That makes no sense to me.

Do other races see it that bad

I don't know if other races, think about words used for them. And honestly, I've only know a couple. Most notably mexicans.

What are we going to do?

Well, we can all jump to arms and point fingers, but I doubt that is going to help anyone out in this situation.

Don't hide it

I feel we all need to be a little more open to the fact that people are going to say things that we don't like.

And honestly, there are people out there that even the worst words are too good for them.

It is up to all of us to be a little understanding and let people express themselves2 to a degree.

Otherwise, how are they going to learn? And how are we going to know?

Conclusion

We have a long way to go in race relations. I consider myself very lucky to be in America and even more lucky to be in California. I know we've made huge strides in equality and learning to live with other ethnic groups.

Still, there is more to this case than just the N-word. The lawsuit that brought this to light talks about other forms of harassment and I think that as human beings we should focus on that in regards to Paula Deen.


  1. I think this might actually be why Eddie Murphy doesn't do stand up any more. I went back and listened to some of his earlier stuff and shook my head to hear how many "faggot" jokes he used to say. 

  2. Don't be that guy who went to his child custody appearance dressed as Hitler