The nagging doubts that I had about moving to Omaha are morphing into something else that is quite different for me. Before I go there, a few words about the Dr. Laura Schlessinger controversy that garnered a smidge of attention recently over her use of the ‘N-word’.
"Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO and listen to a black comic, and all you hear is n****r, n****r, n****r. I don't get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing. But when black people say it, it's affectionate. It's very confusing." - Dr. Laura Schlessinger
She was right because it is. I was riding to get measured for my tux when I stopped at a gas station in Dearborn. An Arab homeboy hopped out of a SUV listening to rap song on the radio. The song contained as many N-bombs as a speech at an Aryan Brotherhood rally. Now if this cat were to have the impression that it is cool to use in everyday conversation, who could blame him?
Apparently, white people get more excited over the ‘N-word’ than black people do… otherwise, why would the world tolerate its use in the scenario Dr. Laura mentioned and to be used in POPULAR music as it is? Someone would have to explain to me how the double standard works, because I am not sure I understand it myself. I mean, the reason there is sensitivity to certain words and terms that are found to be derogatory, is that a broad spectrum of agreement within a group or society as a whole. When it comes to the ‘N-word’ that widespread agreement does not exist, particularly, within the group who should take the most offensive with the word? No, I am not someone who uses that word. The thought of it sits uncomfortably in my mind. But that is me. I guess it is up to me though, to police when the word is used among African-Americans, but to do that is ‘enter at your own risk’. Usually the folks tossing around that particular manhole cover are not liable to see the light of your brilliant argument.
There really should not be wonder why there is so much confusion, as other ethnic groups have their own ‘names and words’ that they use amongst themselves. It is just that point, the part about ‘use amongst themselves’ that muggs up the picture. You can not expect other people to take something seriously if you have not been able to muster the proper context for respect to be placed.
Dr. Laura may be a ‘quack’ (I think she is… in the vein of a Sarah Palin who is playing a role and reaping the financial rewards of her position, talking about a lot of stuff she knows a little about, nothing in depth), but in this context, I have to be on her side. If African-Americans want to be taken seriously, then as a group, we have to decide what WE are going to do about that word. And we need to enforce that position by the same kind of ‘any means necessary’ that we once acted with for social change.
Starting at home, first.