Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished, That Is!
The Next Logical Step In The Evolution Of The Brand
I’d like to begin by saying that this is one of those topics that I generally try to avoid. Not because I think it’s completely unimportant. It’s just that I assume it should be obvious to everyone that white folks who don’t want to be mistaken for Klan members or neo-Nazis should avoid using the term nigger – or any of its derivatives – like they avoid E. Lynn Harris novels. Of course, by now, I should know better than to assume. I received this little gem in my email inbox a few days ago.
Now, I can almost hear some of my brethren saying, “See!?!?!? If WE didn’t use the term so liberally, then white folks wouldn’t have any excuse!” I’ve heard a few white people make this claim myself. After all, nigger is one of the few words that many of them still dare not say in mixed company. For well-meaning whites, it’s become taboo. So, when they hear some black people using it without forethought, they feel, somehow, cheated. They think that if it’s OK for us to use, it should be OK for them. Fair is fair.
Forgive me for saying so, but this is simply bullshit. White people have never needed any rationale for applying the term nigger to those of us with dark skin. Even if every loudmouth knucklehead and Post-Tupac MC on the planet placed a moratorium on the usage of the word, many white folks would still (some amongst themselves, some not) gleefully refer to black folks as niggers.
Fundamentally, I think that many of them are simply fascinated by the word and the power that they have, when they use it, to disrupt the equilibrium of black folks and others who might be offended by it. The word nigger, in the mouth of a white person, is a grenade. I don’t know of any black person who wouldn’t react to it, to one degree or another, if he or she overheard a white person saying it. Even those of us who haven’t the words to articulate it inherently know that when a white person says “nigger” he or she is affirming kidnapping, The Middle Passage, slavery, rape, murder, castration, branding, mutilation, lynching, eugenics, Jim Crow, white supremacy, segregation, Plessy v. Ferguson, Poll Taxes, dogs, hoses, profiling, etc. In short, whenever a white person, no matter how thoughtlessly, uses the term, they are shouting, “WHITE POWER,” loudly and decisively.
I have the feeling that this teacher who casually called his student a “nigga” knew exactly what he was doing. Even if he heard thousands of his black students inquire of each other, “Can a nigga borrow a pencil?” he should have known that this didn’t give him any unwritten permission to invoke the term. He was simply doing what whites have done for hundreds of years. It’s just too bad that he’ll probably get away with it.