Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The N-Word and White Privilege

After this month’s outcry about a NY Post columnist’s ignorant comments on Jay-Z’s involvement in the Brooklyn Nets’ marketing, I’m reminded of a question that comes up in my mind again and again. Why do white people insist on the right to use the n-word?

How many times have we heard some version of the argument, “Well, black people use it, so why can’t I?” My question is, why do you want to?

It seems to me that some of our melanin impaired brethren are so arrogant in their privilege that they refuse to be denied access to ANYTHING. Not even to a word that THEY used, and continue to use, to insult and degrade an entire race of people.

Somewhere over the years, it became out of vogue for whites to use this word publicly.
Now that they’re hearing it used by blacks in popular media, they want the privilege to do the same. This line of thinking showcases a pathological greed that is pervasive in much of White American history, and present, for that matter.

There’s a lack of remorse in the destructiveness with which white people have used this word. If there was any remorse at all, whites would want nothing to do with it. But many continue to feel slighted by society’s insistence they don’t use it. I don’t understand this.

Let’s say Chinese Americans have a word they use among themselves but would be offended if I used it. You know what my response to that is? I don’t use it! It’s really pretty simple. I am absolutely devoid of any desire to use a term that has been deemed exclusive to a particular group, ESPECIALLY if my use of the term is offensive to this group.

We can argue all day about whether or not black people should use this word themselves. After a full day of arguing, I don’t think we’d come to an agreement on the issue. So, I won’t bother. But what I will note is that blacks didn’t just start using this word with the invention of the boom box.

My grandfather was born in 1922. He and his peers called plenty of folk “niggas.” Were there black people in his generation who detested the use of the word? Of course. But let’s get over this notion that the Hip Hop generation somehow brought about the revival of the n-word.

The issue is, rappers RECORDED black use of the word, which was then consumed by millions of white youth, who in turn felt entitled to the public use of the word.

And we’re back to where we started. White entitlement and privilege. Will we ever see the end of it? Will common sense and decency one day prevail? I’m not hopeful. Are you?

No comments:

Post a Comment