the following is an e-mail I received from a woman
who read my rant on your web page.
Unknowingly she proved my point about race relations in this country.
I think it perfectly illustrates your point on the Sarah Silverman issue.
>It seems to me that it is no longer the CONTEXT you say something in,
>but just the word itself. In other words, if I was to be heard saying "Some guy called him a nigger",
>I would be grouped in with the same bunch who actually CALLED them a nigger.>>
You said it "seems to me," Michael, so you're
not sure it's that way, right?
I'm an African American woman, so let me set you straight.
It's not that way.
There were no African American policy changes
in the last 5 years that now make it an ass-kicking
offense if a white person were to say the word "nigger," in ANY context. I repeat you will NOT get
beat down by my little sister if you say, "some guy called him a nigger." That's bullshit.
Please lighten up, and get some balls.
It's always been pretty clear in the world I live
in that the word nigger has to be used in a demeaning,
deragatory, and insulting context, and 99% of the time, it usually is and THAT, dear Michael, is when
you run into problems with blacks (if you can't get away fast).
Maybe you don't know any black people, which is
why you are confused and just
THINK white people get backlash for saying the word in any context.
Here's another news bulletin Michael, in the America
I'ved lived in for almost the entire time I've been
walking this earth, almost 29 years now, the word "nigger," as uttered by whites, has usually, almost
ALWAYS been offensive. It's only in the last few years, with hip-hop, and rap culture overwhelming
the white suburbs have you heard some whites (usually young teen boys) use it as everyday vernacular
trying to be cool, and it's only been that long that you've had adult whites feel that they can comfortably
use it in other contexts besides those filled with hate.
For instance, growing up in a predominantly white
area during my teen years, I had whites who were
so race-conscious and anxiety ridden about possibly offending me in any way, apologetically whisper
the word "black," when they had to describe me or someone that happened to be black, in front of me.
But you seem to be saying "whites," are PO'd because they can't even use the word "nigger,"
conversationally anymore, due to overly sensitive PC types!
Excuse me, but Bwahahaha.
Go ahead Mike, tell me about the good old days
that are no longer...the days
when whites like yourself would affectionately, harmlessly, comfortably, and
in a non-racist way, could say "nigger this," and "nigger that," til' the cows came home.
Guess what you still can. No one's stopping
you honey. Aren't you happy about that?
I promise I won't get offended if you do. I might wonder at your eagerness to WANT to
use it a LOT conversationally, but if it's absent of malice, I really don't have a problem.
That's not enough for you I'm sure, you probably get more mileage out of bitchin' in an
angry white guy way about how PC types are too reactionary.
I'd like to add something I don't think has been said before:
Everyone needs to remember that (in my opinion) the word "nigger" was the default name for blacks
until about the mid-sixties. That means, your grandparents might use the word "nigger" not as an attempt
to slur or demean, but it's their default word.
If they're driving down the street and they see a black person with
a big dog, they might say,
"Look at the big dog that nigger has."
No, they didn't use it on TV and in magazines, but we're talking about
Every age group has a different slant (no pun) on the word.
When I was a kid, they sold "nigger-chaser" fireworks. It was a little
thing you'd light and drop on the ground,
and it'd hop this way and that, so I suppose the joke was that it was chasing the nigger.
My point is, "nigger-chasers" was written on the damn box. That's how people spoke back then.
Also, when I was a kid, there was a song/phrase everybody knows.
"Ennie, meenie, miney moe, catch a nigger by the toe,
if he hollers, make him pay, fifty dollars, every day."
I remember the sadistic sheriff used it in Pulp Fiction, to decide
which captive to rape first,
but I don't remember if he used the word "nigger."
I think the lyrics have changed to "catch a tiger by the toe," am I wrong about that?
So I think, if a person was born around 1955 or earlier, the word "nigger"
is part of his vocabulary.
When an older person sees Jesse Jackson, he thinks, "That nig..." then he stops and catches himself
and says, "that black man" or "that African-American" which I wouldn't mind using but "black" is
so much shorter and I need to save all the time I can.
Also, with chinks and Japs and slants etc etc etc...
I didn't live thru World War II.
I think if I had, the word chink and gook would be part of my vocabulary.
Sure, I'd need to supress that these days, but after fearing a "Jap takeover,"
after "the Japs" bombed Pearl harbor, and 5 years of reading the papers about
what the "Japs" had done to our brave fighting men, the words burn into your brain.
Personally (take a breath) I don't see a problem with the word "Japs."
To me, it's shorthand, like "Yanks."
When I was typing that original piece yesterday, I wished I could've
just type "Jap"
instead of "that Japanese fellow" because it would've saved precious time.
...and don't write and say I'm racist for using the word "Jap."
I just explained that it appears to be shorthand. If people have a negative connotation to shorthand,
well, that's hard for me to understand. That's why I say "GOP" instead of "those Republican bastards."
That's why people say "the US" instead of "the United States of America."
Of course, I don't use the word "Jap," but you do see the point, right?
But how is it different than using "Doc" instead of doctor, or "Cop" instead of policeman?
...because some other guy or group attached a negative connotation
(so much applause, they're doing the wave) I think in most cases, just ask yourself,
"Did that person mean to inflict pain?" when you hear a politically sensitive word.
If Grandpa says, "That nigger did a good job fixing my car," he's probably trying to pay the guy a compliment.
And there's no way Sarah Silverman meant to inflict pain with her chink