Saturday, July 19, 2008

Who you callin nigger?

Both Jesse Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg made the news this week for using the word "nigger." Jackson, as I'm sure you know, got caught using it in what he thought was a private conversation. Goldberg used it repeatedly on the daytime television show "The View." Jackson has been in the forefront of those arguing that the word should be verboten. Goldberg argues that it’s okay for blacks to call other blacks "nigger." No one else, however, should be allowed to use the word. That's because, according to Goldberg, blacks live in a different world that only those with certain melanin levels can understand.

I am in the "not okay to call people nigger" camp. Basically, my reasoning is that the word harms people psychologically and keeps a lot of us down socially and economically. How many times do we hear something along the lines of “you can’t imagine how it feels to be called a nigger?” And calling others nigger is widely considered low class for both blacks and whites. It certainly limits one’s job opportunities.

I fear that older African Americans such as Jesse Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg are so damaged by the racism they have experienced in their own lives that some part of them wants the younger generations to experience that same pain. I actually consider Jackson to be the least hypocritical of the two. He knows it is wrong to call African Americans nigger and has fought to get people to stop using it. Goldberg, on the other hand, revels in her right to call black people nigger.

And Goldberg demonstrates a larger pathology. On “The View” she repeatedly referred to her belief that blacks and whites live in different worlds and that there should be different rules for what people can say based on the world in which they live.

Now I’ve lived abroad and traveled quite a bit and have witnessed the fact that peoples often do live in different worlds. And I am aware that, historically, African Americans have all too often lived in a different world from the white majority.

But this “different world” for African Americans is widely recognized as a very bad thing. It is a world in which whites enjoyed significantly more privilege and opportunity than blacks. It is a reality which many people have fought hard to change for hundreds of years. And it is a reality that we have had a lot of recent success in changing. Not for all, but for many. And the trend going forward is very positive.

Unfortunately, sick twits like Whoopi Goldberg (whose different world is upper class New York/Hollywood btw) want to keep blacks mired in that different world; the one in which they most likely can neither succeed nor escape. I trust she doesn't consciously want to keep her niggers down, but that's the result of her beliefs about using the word "nigger."

And who, exactly, is Whoopi calling nigger? She’s calling people who live in housing projects nigger. She’s calling the black working class nigger. She’s calling the African and West Indian immigrants nigger. She’s calling black professionals nigger. She’s calling mixed people like Barack Obama nigger. She's calling Ivy League achievers like Michelle Obama nigger. And she’s calling the cute little Obama children nigger too. That’s what angers me. Whoopi Goldberg is calling innocent little children nigger.

Black children nowadays are very unlikely to experience the trauma of being called nigger from the mouth of a white racist. No, the first, fifth, and five thousandth time they are called nigger will be out of the mouth of an African American. Thanks Whoopi. You are sick

Whoopi Goldberg, and many fucked-up-beyond-repair people like her, argue that calling young children nigger is a form of empowerment. Well, perhaps it gives those who call young children nigger a sense of empowerment, but it certainly doesn’t empower those young children. It hurts them.

The word “nigger” is the opposite of empowerment for blacks, particularly the lower economic classes. It is a wound for all. A shackle for all too many.

Addendum: I am aware that in blog world, it is right bloggers who overwhelming, albeit superficially, share my position on this. I see no evidence that they believe a word of what they are saying. For them, Jackson and Goldberg's hypocrisy is just a weapon. That, and as so many note, wingnuts probably feel victimized and lash out because they want to call blacks niggers and society won't let them.

A commenter at the conservative"Hot Air" blog, responding to Goldberg's idiocy, expresses the conservative mindset quite well:

Can we ship them all back to Africa then? I mean really, how much more of this crap do we have to put up with? It just goes on and on and when you think they can’t be serious you realize they are.

I figured, OK give them Barak Hussein Obama and maybe the deal would be that we no longer have to listen to these people who are so not victims of anything whine about their victimhood...

Victimhood indeed.