Monday, April 25, 2011

Journal Entry from the Guy Who Created The N Word

Today's post was not written by me, however, I found it extremely insightful, albeit chilling in its ability to shed light on what describes as "probably the most offensive word in the English language." Please read and share your thoughts on the post. If you don't mind, also share your thoughts on the N word. Do you use it?


If anyone ever reads this diary entry, it’s important for you to know that I’m a white man. It is more important for you to know that due to childhood polio, I’ve never had the luxury of being able to use my legs. I have endured much teasing, horrific stares, and blatant disrespect. Today, however, I’m filled with pride, reflecting on my ancestor, 14 generations before me who created the word, nigger. Just today, in Starbucks, I heard some young men in business casual attire using the word to refer to themselves and their friends in a conversation. To know that the word my predecessor created hundreds of years ago is still being used today fills my heart with joy. I bet if he had a journal, it’d read something like this:
I’ve always wanted to leave an indelible mark on the world…you know, something that can’t be erased or forgotten. I tried a few things…
I used violence to capture a people from their homeland and forced them to be my slaves. But, the Egyptians had slaves far before I did…so that’s not original.
I sold them on auction blocks and ripped their families apart without recourse. Not so original either. (My children may have to allow them to be free in order to save my family and myself. Sort of the same thing that happened to the Pharaoh who dealt with Moses and all of those plagues. We’re really struggling with this originality thing.)
What about raping their women to satisfy my lustful desires while simultaneously propagating my slave coffers, thereby increasing my wealth? Eh, seen it before.
Hmm, what if I create a term that can be used to denigrate the people who I’ve subjected to unmitigated torture, incomprehensible suffering, and legalized brutality? Yes, I think I’ve got it.
And they shall be called: NIGGERS!

Didn’t I tell you he was a genius? His plan worked better than he could have ever imagined. This phraseology was widely accepted at its inception and I’m quite proud of it to say the least. The term spread throughout the slave holding states and even caught on quite well up north. Slave auction advertisements even went from saying “African Slaves for sale” to “Niggers for sale.” Unfortunately, some literate mulatto named Frederick Douglass sparked a revolution of sorts, followed by other niggers like Marcus Garvey, Thurgood Marshall, Martin King and Malcolm X. They didn’t like people calling them niggers anymore, and made respectable strides in getting us to stop calling them niggers (publicly at least). Then, there were rumblings that niggers had taken up the practice of actually calling themselves niggers. What a relief it must have been!! Initially, I 'm sure my great x10 grandfather was a bit shocked that a man would call himself a nigger. I mean, the term was meant to cast horrible aspersions upon a people he wanted to remain at the bottom of society. When we say nigger, we're saying “shiftless, ignorant, hopeless, laughable, less than human.” So I find it strange that these folks refer to themselves in that fashion. Let’s plug it in and see if it makes sense. Here’s a plausible scenario of a typical discourse between two of them.

Scenario 1: Hey Mike, this is John. Call me back when you get a chance.
Scenario 2: Hey Mike, this is your nigger John. Call me back when you get a chance.
Scenario 2 Translated: Hey Mike, this is [shiftless, ignorant, hopeless, laughable, less than human] John. Call me back when you get a chance.

I love it. Makes no sense, but I absolutely love it.

Oh wait, I should mention that they’ve taken my family’s word and now it’s a different word. Drop the “er” and add an “a” and you have the new and improved “Nigga.” This nigga is the descendent of the nigger who my family bought and sold like livestock just a few generations ago. We’ve decided to stop calling you this word (publicly) because it’s no longer politically correct and admittedly inappropriate. Nevertheless, I’d like to thank you for keeping it alive. I’m glad we don’t have to use it anymore, because quite frankly, it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. But, when it comes from you, I feel much better about it. So, I congratulate all you niggers and niggas. Your leaders say that people like me used to be known as “Jim Crow.” And now I’m “James Crow, Jr., Esquire” because I evolved into a more latent and less obvious hate monger. Well, you’ve evolved as well! You are now the “nigga” formerly known as “nigger.” Or, maybe you are “Nigga, Esquire.” I’m glad you like the word and I’m sure you’ll keep it alive. (Note to non-nigger readers: Niggers are good at keeping things alive, i.e. “hope”). I’d hate for all of my hard work to go to waste.

Some of the more uppity niggers have told me that they’ve stripped the word of its power by using it themselves. If so, then why are you offended when I use it? I mean, we’re all equal, right “brotha?” Clearly, if you don’t want me to say Nigger/Nigga, you must find some inherent flaw in the word. I thought it had a new meaning? Don’t be mad “my nigga.””

I must say, I am baffled by why you refer to yourself as a Nigger/Nigga, but I can relate. I’ll tell you a story about how I became the Crippled Monster. When I was growing up, due to my affliction, some of the less compassionate kids in my neighborhood called me “the crippled monster.” The name hurt my feelings, initially. But after a long period of strife and fighting, I found it easier just to adopt the name and started using it myself. My mother (much like the African-American civil rights leaders) begged and pleaded for me to stop. She told me “You’re not a cripple and you’re certainly not a monster.” She even went to my school and got into a huge fight with the principal for allowing people (teachers included) to call me this name. This was a great source of embarrassment and sadness for her. I, on the other hand, became comfortable with it. I suppose after everyone calls you a certain thing for such a long time, you start to believe that’s what you really are. Deep down inside, sometimes I really feel like I’m a crippled monster. So, I understand you, niggers. Maybe deep down inside you really feel like the niggers/niggas you are. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right? Exactly. I guess this diary entry was more about me than those who call themselves niggers. I wonder if any self-proclaimed niggers will read this someday and feel my pain. Wait a minute, niggers can’t read. Never mind. Goodnight.
-The Crippled Monster (or The Crippled Monsta’)

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's Not as Black and White as You Think (Interracial Relationships)

By a large margin, my most popular blog post is "Reasons to Date a Black Man". Many people presumed that I have an unwavering loyalty and dedication to dating and/or marrying a Black man. These people are mistaken.

Every woman (and man) has a list of things they consider important when choosing their significant other. Some things are requirements (a desire to have children) and others are preferences (a college degree). For example, I prefer men taller than me (notice I said taller than me, not necessarily tall). I prefer men who like to read books. I strongly prefer men who are willing to adopt at least one child. This doesn't mean I won't end up married to a man who's 5'7" and can't make it through a magazine article.

An Analogy
Think of it like this. You see a notice for your dream job, you apply and you're in the last interview. The pay is more than you've ever made, the hours are flexible, the commute is steps from your house, and you're passionate about the company's mission. Your potential supervisor is just about to offer you the job when she says, "I hope this doesn't deter you, but we don't offer direct deposit." Well.... the job meets all of your other preferences, but unfortunately they won't do direct deposit. Are you going to turn the job down? Of course not! It's just a preference, not a requirement. And that's how I see race/ethnicity when it comes to what I'm looking for in a significant other.

For some, a specific race is a requirement. That's fine; as my most recent post suggests, I advocate for everyone finding their own path to happiness. However, I do think there are a few facts that generally should be acknowledged that may allow people to see interracial relationships in a different perspective:

1. Humans made the whole idea of race up. That's right. I don't have nearly enough time (or intelligence) to fully explain this here, but I encourage you to research the history of race. In the meantime, I'll tell you this. Race is a social construct, which is a fancy way of saying that some people decided that a good way to figure out 'who was who' was to create categories based around phenotypic traits with influence from people's nationality, culture, and social practices. The DNA within any racial group is more diverse than the DNA of a randomly selected population. Would you really decide who you want to spend the rest of your life with based on the thinking of guys who thought the world was flat?

2. No one really fits into any one racial category. There's a reason why people are a rainbow of shades but only four major racial groups. I'm sure somewhere there exists someone whose bloodline is Irish all the way through, however all the rest of us are mutts. And as the world becomes increasingly global and integrated, we have another quandary.

If people should only date within their race... who do biracial people date? Other biracial people with the same combination as them? Or do they get unlimited access to both races? The world is not made up of people who come in 4 colors (black, white, brown, or yellow). Most people are racially diverse just within themselves! (Don't believe me... invest in getting your DNA traced). My friend is half Fillipino and half Trini. Good luck finding another half Filipino/Trini! In practice, most people just date people who look like they're from a specific race. Which, means you're deciding who you spend the rest of your life with based on an external characteristic... sounds like prejudice to me. (If this was Twitter, I'd say #imjustsaying).

3. Race and culture are two different things. I agree that a common culture, beliefs, etc are important in deciding who you spend the rest of your life with. But while race and culture are related, they are not synonymous. Which formula makes more sense?

I rest my (cartoon) case.

4. In 2050, whoever you marry isn't going to look like they did in 2011 anyway. The things that will matter most in a relationship... the things that will sustain a marriage... the things that will matter in the long run won't be the wooliness of someone's hair or their ability to tan without burning. The things that will matter are their compassion while parenting, their support during your low days, and the inside jokes you'll share. And does any of that really have a color?

What About You?

I'm not writing to tell you who to date; I'm simply sharing my perspective on a widely discussed issue. When I told an acquaintance that I'd gone on a date with a Caucasian man, she jokingly (I think) said, "Sounds like self-hate to me." What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Is dating outside of the race a bad idea, doomed for failure? Or are interracial relationships indicative of a more contemporary global perspective?

Please share!