7.10.2007

Morality Plays

Yesterday, the NAACP buried the “N” word...literally. The organization held a funeral for the word, duplicating it’s actions of a couple of decades ago, when it buried Jim Crow.

Burying Jim Crow will prove to be the easier entombment, I think. That’s because so many of us use the “N” word when talking to each other. We only have a problem with it when white people use it.

It’s always been considered a bad word. I come from the generation where parents didn’t curse in front of the kids. And, we never, ever used the “N” word for any reason to refer to anyone else. It was a term of disrespect with the obvious racist connotations. We were taught not to denigrate ourselves because we would get enough of that when we stepped into the white professional world. Trust me, as someone who has spent her entire life being the “first black this and only female that,” there are actually hundreds of ways somebody can call you a nigger without using the word itself.

Nowadays, kids toss the word around like a water balloon and people have become desensitized to it. The problem with using it so freely is that people with no sense of history or anything else for that matter, think they can use it like we do. That’s when it becomes offensive.

As blacks we can’t be so hypocritical. If we’re going to use it, we must expect that others will too. We need to get over ourselves and really, really make the word inoffensive, much like gay and lesbians did with the word “Queer.” The LGBT community owns that word, having taken possession of it a long time ago. You can’t hurt us with it anymore. Blacks need to do the same with the “N” word. If we intend to use it, then we have to stop reacting to its use by others. Once it loses it’s shock value, then it is buried for real, not symbolically like the NAACP tried to do yesterday.

The NAACP would do better recapturing its relevance if it would go after the things that are killing our communities, like AIDS, Poverty, black on black violence, out of wedlock children, and the school dropout rate.

Remember, the old nursery rhyme....”sticks and stones can break my bones...but words will never hurt me..”

Good words to live by..
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