I’m not easily affected by ignorance outside of me. I’ve learned that I can only affect the world around me by being the “change I want to see.” I try not to get caught up in debates that have become trivial over time and argument, such as with the casual use of the N-word.
If “random black person” wants to flaunt his/her ignorance and/or disrespect of their own culture and American history, so be it. It’s not my business. BUT when my 11-year old develops an affinity towards hip hop, it’s only a matter of time before I have to engage in the… N-word talk.
For clarity’s sake, the N-word is not referring to North, Nitrogen, or Nadine. The N-word refers to the denigrating word, nigger, nigga, niglet, or any variant of such. The word is most commonly used in a hip hop culture where a majority of the consumers are white. And because of the influence that music has on pop culture, it is also just as common to hear the word in casual language among both young and old, educated and non, and black and (gasp)… white.
Historically, the N-word has been used in a pejorative context referring to black people or people of darker hued skin. It played a starring role in the raping, lynching, emasculation, misogamy, and discrimination of a culture of people. It was spit in the face. It was fire hose to the body. It is a bitter word that carries with it the memory of hate and an action that held minorities captive for far too long. So how is it that people of any origin think that they can speak the word with any expression of favor or affinity?
It reminds me of another piece of history that was the summer of 1973 when three women and one man were taken hostage during a botched robbery at one of the largest banks in Stockholm, Sweden. They were held captive for six days and surprisingly, resisted attempts at their rescue. Even stranger, they refused to testify against their two captors, raised money for their legal defense, and one of the hostages allegedly became engaged to one of her jailed captors. This class of behavior was later coined as “Stockholm Syndrome.”
While hypertension and AIDS are aggressive protagonists in our communities, this “Stockholm Syndrome” is playing a more subtle role of destruction from the inside-out. I believe that there is a great power in words and that we eventually become who we say we are. I am not an N-word nor are my sons. It is imperative that they know that. We need to be more aware of what our children and we take in and reflect.
And I won’t delve into the double standard of how one group can say the N-word while another group (white) is forbidden to even mumble it. That makes NO sense. Should the word be banned? No. It is a part of American history – the same history that “random black person” seems to be ignorant of.
If you know where you came from, you will walk with a greater sense of pride of who are you and what you will be. “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” Probably not.
Mahatma Gandhi – “Be the change you want to see in the world.”