Don’t Say That Word

This isn’t going to be easy for me to do, but I need to express myself on something that really bothers me. I’m uncomfortable doing this and I hope I can get my point across. 

I suppose the best way to do it is to just speak my mind while trying not to be politically correct. 

I get extremely annoyed and upset when I hear the word ‘nigger’ being used in conversation. I cringe whenever I hear it. 

I can’t understand how this has become ‘cool’. It just blows my mind. I know, don’t tell me, I’ve seen the Richard Prior video where he explains it. I reject this explanation with contempt. 

I don’t really do political correctness. I think it’s stupid and mostly just protects the sensitivity of those with fragile egos. I understand, and respect and protect, that comedians are social commentators who use shock to get the attention of their audiences. When this crosses over into everyday behaviour it becomes untenable. 

As much as I don’t do PC I also don’t do hate speech, belittling and racial superiority. That I am offensive there is little doubt. Get over yourself. Everyone is always so offended by everything. It’s as though one harsh word will challenge their right to exist. 

I don’t attack the person, I attack ideals, norms, convention, habit, paradigms; these are grist to my mill. I don’t think that because you disagree with an idea that I have you are against me or that I should feel dimished by it.  

‘Nigger’ is just a horrible term. It takes an entire group of people and relegates them to a place where they are considered sub-human. It reinforces the fact that for thousands of years people of colour were considered less human than white people. 

When you use it colloquially, even between black people, it reinforces the sub-human paradigm. 

Ok, you say, what’s happening here is that black people identify themselves as underdogs and use it to show a sense of belonging; they understand that the world largely still regards them this way and by using it they remind themselves to fight against it. Actually, you could probably say this more eloquently than I have and it would make more sense. You know what I’m getting at though. 

I fully get the fact that the use of the term was designed to make white people cringe. Prior and company used it intentionally to draw attention to the life of the black man in America. They wanted us to cringe. They wanted us to think twice. 

Self mutilation, attempted suicides and dangerous behaviour are ways of ‘acting up’, of drawing attention to oneself. They say “Look at me. Look AT me. I am in pain. I am hurting. Why don’t you understand?” Self mutilation shows us physical pain so that we can understand that there is an underlying emotional pain. It also says “I don’t care about myself. Nobody else does and neither do I. Look, I will cause myself harm to myself to show you that you are right not to care. But please make it go away.”

That Prior and his ilk used the word intentionally is patent. He tries to explain it. You may feel that he even does a good job of it. I believe that the use of the word comes from a place much deeper in his subconscious than that and that it is a wild and necessary cry for attention. 

At some point the use of the word crossed over from being a statement of protest or to draw attention to a shared societal pain and found its way into mainstream language. This is where I start to become very concerned. 

There is a social group that has accepted the term as describing them and has designated it ‘cool’. It reminds me of those biker groups with names like ‘Outcasts’. They are no more outcasts than any one of us. Because the world accepts them as being different they have embraced it. They’re no different to you or I. They just live a different social paradigm.  

The problem with accepting the term is that it brings with it a world of unintended consequences. These may sound like an overreaction but, as I’ve said previously about using the word ‘hate’, what you think is how you behave.

Firstly what using this word does is to reinforce the paradigm that black people are an inferior race. It does this for both white people and black peopl who use or hear the word. It is an acceptance of the word and the paradigm that it describes. 

Secondly, it makes it easier for the word to be used in the wrong way. Let’s rather call this the way not intended by the colloquial use of the word. Any way that it’s used is the wrong way but now what does that white person mean when he says “how you my nigger”? Can you be sure he’s using it to identify with you or that he’s being derogatory? This has to incite racial tension. Racisism is racism. 

I can keep going on with examples ad nausium but my third, and biggest, problem with the colloquial use of the word is that it is a disabler to what I believe is the proper raising of my children. 

The world is so full of prejudice and intolerance and I am trying as hard as I might to teach my children tolerance. How can they practice tolerance when they see people that they look up to and consider cool using horrible, horrible hate speech? They imitate these people. So if they become ambivalent to the use of racist terms where will it end?

I don’t believe that if you are a celebrity you have some sort of obligation to be a shining example of good values to the world. No, I don’t believe this at all. I love rock ‘n roll too much for that. I do believe, however, that nobody should disseminate hate speech and that if you have a very large, very impressionable audience then perhaps you do have a responsibility to mind your actions. 

There is infinite space in this world for rebels. Just rebel against injustice. You won’t run out of causes. You have no risk of looking ‘mainstream’. You can still piss off leaders and governments and parents and religious leaders. I encourage you to do it. Get up, stand up. 

I think this argument is really simple. All you have to do is to be a decent person. 

Decent people don’t use that hateful word. 


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