Have you ever had something you’ve done corrected by somebody you don’t particularly care for? And because you don’t like that person, and out of stubbornness, you continued to do what you were doing because you did not want to give the person who corrected you the satisfaction of having corrected you. Not to mention you would rather continue doing something wrong than prove that person you despise right.
Well, that’s how I feel about this new proposal by Jesse Jackson. Reverend Jackson has asked that all people and the entertainment stop use of the N-word. While having Michael Richards on his radio show and discussing the fallen star’s racist tirade, the Reverend discussed his plans to talk with television networks, film companies and musicians about ridding the word from their industries and called for an all out plan to end the use of the N-word amongst all, especially black people.
As a black man, I feel two ways about this. One part of me definitely wants to see the N-Word eliminated from verbal use. I remember my freshman year in college, I remember trying to rid of my own personal use of the word and I encouraged all of my friends, black and white, to rid of it as well. However, I guess that fervor of my youth later died in regards to that issue, and sadly I went on using the N-word in the same manner as the majority of black youth in this country.
And while I want to stop my use of the N-word and see it ended all together, I don’t want it to be because of Michael Richards. While his racist tirade shined a light on the fact that there are still people in the world who have despicable feelings toward other races and has allowed the public to learn a lot from his mistakes, I feel troubled by the thought of giving Richards the credit for the start of something good.
While ridding of the use of the N-word would represent something good, remembering Richards as the reason for it 50 years from now would be something bad. So I guess me, and maybe many of you, are at odds with this. Do we really want to remember that extinction of the N-word as something that was instigated by a racist white man’s tirade?
I don’t. But we may not have a choice. I mean what are we going to do? Are we going to continue to say the N-word for another couple of months or so until the Richards thing dies off and then promote its extinction? That just seems childish.
But it is what I am going to do.
You have to look at it this way, rappers, comedians and Hollywood are not going to be able to stop using this word right away. Albums, movies and acts are all executed and done well before they appear on the public stage, so things done with in the last month are not going to stop using it for another year…at the least. So the N-word will be around us, and it will be present, whether we have a ban or not.
And just because we don’t make the word extinct does not mean we have to use in the same manner. Until the Richard’s thing has died down, and Jesse Jackson has actually gotten some leverage with the entertainment world, blacks can use the N-word in an educational and historical sense. Using it to teach people how people have misused it, how it has hurt people, and what it has meant in our society in different eras. As far as for casual conversation, if it is going to be used, than it should be used to discuss social acts and stories that derive from the use of the word, not just to say, “nigga this and nigga that.”
So, as much as I want to waive farewell to the N-word, I won’t allow it to happen at the outset of racists’ actions. That just gives him too much credit to something that is for our benefit. But I do wish it a slow death, and hope that people can learn from the Richards’ incident. So use this time to get it out of your system. When things cool down and everyone has level heads over this issue, I’m sure Reverend Jackson will bring the use of the N-word to the forefront and make a proposal to rid of it on the grounds of something more tangible and more reflective of the black race’s determination to better ourselves than Michael Richards acting like a bigot.