Tuesday, August 31, 2010



I do like artsy East Coast-New York rock. Sonic Youth, Television, Lou Reed, stuff like that I really can get into. There is a group, 'Chk, Chk, Chk' whose music I have heard in indie movie soundtracks recently. My first exposure to them was back at the turn of the century, with a song called 'Me and Giulani Down By The Schoolyard (a true story!)'. It is a long song (not as long as 'Washing Machine' but close enough!) but very clever with its lyrics and quite a funky beat to it... again, if I could simply keep a two step rhythm, I would shake to this song!

Since IPods remain a mystery to me, I wonder how I would go about loading all of my cd's to my device? And I wonder how long it would take... geez, I have about thousand of 'em...


Most of the storm over Dr. Laura has passed, hasn't it? Since I can remember as a teenager hearing her crap analysis and advice on WXYZ-1270, my big thing is what took folks so long to realize she is a full of crap and is a quack? She is nothing more than a Stuart Smalley in drag, not trained to do anything but has been a part of enough 12-step programs to let you know that you need one too! I was reading in Sheria's journal last week and got her take on the word and Dr. Laura. But first, I had better start with where I am coming from.

I cannot recall having been 'extra' upset whenever I have been called by the N-word, no matter how it was used (more on that later) or who used it. Growing up, kids had their pick of slurs and insults by which they could verbally assault me with, so I lumped all of them in the same wagon, took Mom's advice and only answered to my own name. Now, I have dropped a few 'N-bombs', both as a derogatory but more often in the way that Markie Mark here says in his comment on Sheria's post:

"I do think many white people are jealous of how black people use language to convey emphasis and intimacy. When a white person with an icicle up her ass like Dr. Laura hears one black guy refer to another as "my ni**a," its not the word itself she wants, but the emotional exchange she is witnessing."

I think that he has hit upon something here. Because growing up it was often, as George Carlin so wittily noted, about the context in which one brother would say it to another. Most ethic slurs are not as multipurpose as the N-word, and I have to admit that a lot of the sting has gone out of it, primarily because we DO use it and from one brown man to another, there is a different kind of context that people like Dr. Laura could never hope to understand.

When I first received my diagnosis, for a while in 'the provincial town I once jogged 'round', it seem that other people who were disabled seemed to recognize something about me, something that marked me as 'one of theirs'. It STILL happens... I don't know if it is something about my gait or look, but they just KNOW. And often this recognition seems to occur without a word being said, as if I have a new scent and that is what gives me away.

Not that I mind or anything, but when I have sat and talked with a 'club member', no matter what their issues is, we have a lot of things in common to talk on. For us to make certain kinds of jokes, we don't wonder about sensitivities because it happens to the teller of the joke too, and we are having a small chuckle at it and driving on.

Perhaps the 'N-word' has lost a lot of its power to hurt and now is a 'marker' of a person. For me, an African-American who uses it, freely and casually, leaves me with the impression of a subpar intellect and a person with self-esteem issues. There is a character on Aaron McGruder's 'Boondocks' show who has all the classic signs of a self-hating brother, and when the word is used, I don't think of it as gratuitous. Doesn't make it any less difficult to hear.


Same thing goes for its use in rap songs. I mentioned the NWA song and here are the lyrics and time has done well by them. They pretty much explain why we call ourselves the 'N-word' and have been able to turn it into an income generator. And here is where I have my problems with it. How many other ethnic slurs do you see commercialized like this? None, that how many and there is a reason for it.

It is because negation of oneself is a lack of self-respect. And if you can't respect yourself or show esteem for your own group, then who really controls the groups image? Oppressed people cling to their identities and treasure it. That does not seem to be what happens with African-Americans and their identity. It makes it hard for other take us as seriously as we would like to be seen. That we traffic in the commerce of our degradation only makes it more difficult for blacks to be taken seriously as an ethnic group infused with pride. Anywho...

My panties don't get bunched up when I hear the word. I don't use it because it simply is devoid of any content in my mind. And if I someone of ANY ethnic persuasion uses it in a conversation with me, I prolly would view them with hostility and think less of them as a person. The same way that Frannie views 'Wally Campbells' only without the wannabe class, the ornamental grace or undeserved high prospects that comes with be a section man.


DB said...

Mark, I wonder what you would make of another group of AfricanAmericans. I knew a radio engineer who, for some reason, had a son who was white. Eventually, even though he maintained a good-brother relationship with the other Blacks at the station, began to change his color by whatever means he did. The last time I saw him he was very pale in color. He was truly "paasin." What about that?

By the way, I watched all of
"Washing Machine." It reminded me of the dayw I used play on the piano strings.


Sarcastic Bastard said...

I think your explanation of the way you feel about the word is well-reasoned and very sound. I think you are looking at things in the best possible way.

However, I must say, if any white person ever used that word around you or Sheria in my presence, I would beat the shit out of them. I won't have my friends disrespected EVER. And I personally HATE that word.

Love you,