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The N word: Where do we go from here?

on April 19, 2007with 0 comments

Recently, Don Imus referred to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy head hoes.” Since then there has been a virtual chain reaction of racial issues sparked in the media the past weeks. The most central one being the use of the “N” word.

Oprah discussed the issue on a show recently. BET had a special on it. It spurred the recent meeting Russell Simmons announced with key figures in the Hip Hop community. Media perhaps trying to distract us from our ever-growing more corrupt-by-the-day administration in the White House? Anyway, moving along. It has gotten way out of hand. Coincidentally, the day after i watched the BET special, I went to a Hip Hop show in Indianapolis, IN. While there I saw white rappers on stage using the word “nigga” like they invented it.

Initially, I was startled, but as I looked around and saw that the “thugs/thug wannabe blacks” weren’t bothered…I simply just stood in utter awe and disbelief. I tried to put a positive spin on it. Perhaps, America becoming a society where everybody’s a “nigga” would finally blur racial lines to a point where we can stand as one. A nation full of “niggas” of all different cultures and walks of life. Hmmmmm…nah that just won’t do. I’m not really feeling that.

While contemplating this, mysteriously, “Bamboozled” came on. Then I realized that movie was prophecy. Spike Lee is so in tune with the effect that audio-visual media has on society, that he saw this coming. Is Spike a super psychic? I don’t know about that, but i think he realized this has happened before. Could it be that our baggy pants and bling is modern day “blackface”. And I choose to use the term “blackface” because most pop urban garb is “artificial-blackness” just as “blackface” is. Just because you dress and talk a certain way doesn’t make you black. Although, many white youth believe it does.

Our culture and identity has become the jester of society. The least articulate and most barbaric of us is held in high-esteem in this society to amuse the masses. I’m sure we’ve all seen “Flavor of Love.” No offense to Flav, I love the guy. He’s a regular genius that speaks several languages and plays several instruments. But what’s funny is you watch 2 seasons of a reality show centered around one person and you don’t hear of any of these accomplishments. So now, just as it was in “Bamboozled”, white kids and other races are all walking around wearing blackface and saying “nigga.”

Once again blacks’ dehumanization in pop culture has reached catastrophic levels while everyone asks,“What’s the big deal?” Who is to blame when both sides are ignorant? Blacks ignorant of the fact that everyone emulates what’s put into the “pop culture” machine. If you say “nigga” alot in your hit show or multi-platinum album, odds are everyone is going to start saying it. Other races ignorant of the fact that blacks took pride in the word not because of the word itself. Blacks took pride in it because it was used negatively against blacks while other horrors were inflicted on blacks. I repeat “While other horrors were inflicted on blacks.”

So when blacks use it as a term of endearment, its their way of saying “I flipped it and used it to embrace my brother..but i dare you to say it because times have changed.” Honestly, I sit staring at my computer wondering where I’m going with this. What meaningful punchline will i end this article with? I don’t know. I think its too late. It may be irreversible. I think in the future as white men walking around saying “nigga”, it may serve as a reminder for future generations to watch what they inject into pop culture. I don’t think Arabs will ever walk around calling each other “terrorist” and putting it into songs after this collective mistake.

From now on black people, lets be a little more conscious in how we choose to portray ourselves in order to make a buck. Because historically, white culture has always tried to emulate our culture. Even when we’re at our worst. Do we want to be remembered for our worst? The next time you see the white kid in over-sized clothes and gold teeth saying “nigga” and you’re thinking of how foolish he looks. Think of how foolish we look. Because we’re all just mirrors for one another when its all said and done.

Written by: Thoth

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