A Different Perspective

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H. Lewis Smith, Founder and CEO - UVCCCNN Special Commentary Part II:

Using the N-word…is it Ever OK?

By:  H. L. Smith

On Monday July 1, 2013, CNN aired a special program “N-word vs ‘Cracker’: Which is Worse?” hosted and moderated by Don Lemon. Impelled to offer greater perspective and response to the discussion, UVCC published commentary, titled “CNN Special Commentary Part I: Responding to Racism is not Reverse Racism”, viewable at Houston Style Magazine online. Part I addressed the racism aspect of the CNN special. This concluding Part II installment will take the discussion a step beyond its original main idea to also address a secondary, yet still significant issue: the n-word and Black Americans’ embracement of it. Moreover, the composition of the CNN panel and their perspective insights will also be analyzed.

During the discussion, some of the panelists said they understand use of the n-word and, perhaps, why it seems acceptable for Black folks to use the pejorative term. Some of these notions are listed as follows with apparent arguments against these bewildering justifications:

  • Proponents of the n-word say that people give words power. These same proponents believe that they have taken a hateful word and turned it into a positive, removing the sting from the idiom by boastfully referring to one another as the n-word and using it as a term of endearment.

If only black people are supposed to use the word n**ga and are doing so in order to accomplish a transference of power or to prove that the term no longer has a racially-offensive connotation, the attempt has proven futile because the term is still taboo if used by other races in reference to black people. White people, for instance, still cannot say the word n**ger without inviting some sort of hostile reaction. If blacks have truly successfully revolutionized or reclaimed the word, then everyone—black and white—would be free to use the word without question of racism, socioeconomic class, or the context in which the term was used.

Bottom line, millions of Black people—men, women, AND children—were butchered, slaughtered, beaten, raped, disemboweled, castrated and/or murdered with the chant of “n**ger” ringing in their ears as they drew their last breath. The LAST people on the face of this earth to even think about using the n-word should be the descendants of these very same people. In fact, when descendants hear anyone use this term, it should send chards of glass shooting through their souls and disgust them to the point that they require the word be taboo in their presence no matter if the user is black or white.

  • It’s about the intention behind the use.

Building on the previous point, other than the Black/African-American user of the n-word, the rest of the world plainly recognizes and sees that word for its inherent intent. The n-word suggests that black people are second-class citizens, ignorant and less than human. The n-word is a term of exclusion and verbal justification for discrimination and violence.  It matters not how the n-word is spelled or pronounced—the same as brother/brotha, sister/sista, sucker/sucka, etc., use of the word n**ga is ghetto vernacular for n**ger, and ultimately, its purpose and intent will always be the same; serving as a psychological conduit to negatively manipulate and shape the minds and collective perceptions of America’s Black population to perceiving an unfavorable and false perception of self.

The term will always stand for what it represented, and no matter how one says it, will always and forever spew of African forefathers’ unrighteously-shed blood, stolen innocence of helpless children, and sorrowful, inconsolable cries of childless mothers.

  • The word n**ger should not be censored and/or sanitized. 

Incredibly, some Black Americans search for pseudo-intellectual reasons to refer to themselves as n**gahs, as opposed to discovering authentic reasons to self-negate away from the term. Perhaps, this is because media only greatly promotes/targets seekers of pseudo-intellectual reasoning—selling them on superficial delights and something that “sounds good”, as opposed to targeting the effective populous, which includes those with alternative thinking or real intellect. The pseudo-intellects seek or accept just enough “knowledge” to make them seem well informed or as if they’re in control of their own decisions but still comfortable enough to fit within the status quo of indifference. This fence-straddling position is a common ground of belief where use of the n-word should not be censored.

Unless an individual has the mental resolve and intestinal fortitude to expose how Black history in general is being sanitized and censored, they should smartly refrain from speaking about how the n-word shouldn’t be censored or sanitized.  Anything less, that person is completely out of order and is allowing self to be used as a tool, pawn, or puppet to maintain the status quo. The following UVCC commentary discusses this very idea—about the clear-cut, detrimental significance for Blacks to take the lead in learning about, embracing, and demanding all to respect their race and community, as well as to appreciate the Black man’s value on every front:  A Different Perspective.

At some point, Black America must come to grips with itself and stop allowing the community to be hoodwinked and bamboozled by a systemic harboring a cryptic agenda. The Paula Deen’s of America serve as a perfect example. The news media has aroused the entire country against her because of her use of the n-word.  The only supposed power this woman has is the power to insult; other than that, she and others like her have no power, which is why they attempt to degrade others to make themselves feel worthy. Yet, it is folks like Deen who whenever they make a misstep and use the n-word, the necessarily required attention is never directly cast upon the ugliness of the term. No real focus is put on the true ramifications the term manifests on the progress of generations of black youth, nor to the implications upon the mal-progression of the American psyche as it relates to black people. Instead, all of the attention is drawn toward that person, and how their actions will now affect their pocketbooks.

This action draws attention away from the institutions who are the real culprits with enormous power to manipulate, oppress and control. These institutions will not publicly insult Black America with use of the n-word; rather, they just simply treat black people like one. Their primary objective is to maintain a national objective that’s never been abandoned, further perpetuating a mental exploitation and suppression of an unsuspecting group of people.

The CNN panel was a minstrel show.  Everyone with the exception of two women were having a grand time at the expense of their dehumanized ancestors.  Donna Brazile, Rochelle Oliver, and white members of the panel were composed and circumspect. Don Lemon did an admirable job coping with a delicate issue; though he himself did use the term, he did in summation let it be known that he did not condone self-internalization of the n-word.

What’s more is that CNN would never allow the use of such profane words as f**k, p***y, s**t to be vocalized on the air, and yet n**ga—the mother of profanity and the most infamous word in the English language—flowed from the mouths of the black guests in utter contempt and disrespect for their ancestors. The media giant did so because Black/African-Americans’ standards are far below any acceptable level. At some point, Black Americans must learn to display greater self-respect for themselves and the memories of their beloved ancestors; in so doing, others will have no choice but to follow suit.

This is the 21st century, not the 18th century. The slave mentality usage of the n-word has to stop. Use of the n-word serves a purpose, and that purpose is not in the best interest of Black America—never has been and never will be. Some Black/African-Americans are totally convinced that the color of their skin is synonymous with the word n**ger. This ignorance must be rectified, which can only be accomplished by Black America.

Wynton Marsalis, to his credit, somewhat redeemed himself by not waffling over his position about the effects self-destructive music lyrics have on the human mind. He stated that it was an international embarrassment how the rappers liberally use the n-word in their music and that this behavior is shameful.

The international community finds it mind boggling that black folks degrade themselves in such a fashion. Interestingly, if most other races can see the heinousness and degradation in referring to self as a term thrust upon a race of people meant to destroy them mentally and transform them into thoughtless cattle, why is it that black people can’t see this same disgust and destruction in the term? Using the term pedagogically with all of the other Black history shared may be acceptable in context, but certainly, being called a n**ga is never okay no matter who uses the term.

H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc. (www.theunitedvoices.com);  and author of “Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word”. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thescoop1

 

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