First, if you’re offended by racial slurs, you may not want to read this blog post. Personally, I think the fact that people will not type/write/say “nigger”, but will say “n-word” instead is absurd. The use of the term “n-word” is an attempt to erase the racial dynamite and history of a word that America has loved, used to oppress an entire people group and exported. I don’t believe in using the “n-word”, because growing up, someone white didn’t say, “Look at the n-word”, they said, “Look at that nigger!” Truckers on the road didn’t call my wife an “n-lover”, they called her a “nigger-lover”.
The Paula Deen remarks (if you’re not up on the story, click here) from her deposition reminded me of the fact that we often let the part of us grown out of the DNA from America’s soil come out in front of our children.
When I was growing up, I heard racial slurs said about certain groups, but the problem was, I didn’t know the words were racial slurs! I may have repeated them because I heard them at home, in school, or on TV. Understand that I’m not talking about being politically correct, but I’m talking about how republicans, democrats, church folk, black folks, white folks, brown folks, homosexual, heterosexual, you name it, all know what words they can use to insult another group that is different than their own.
Sometimes we as adults will try to explain our racist/prejudice language to the children (who may even call us out on it) with the excuse, “Well, I was just raised that way…”.
White people from the South may say, “Well, we always just called black people niggers where I grew up, and they didn’t seem to mind. Even today, they call each other that word, so why is it wrong?”
Black people just loved when old George Jefferson on The Jefferson’s would call Tom a honky, as if his use of that slur was some sort of equalizer. But as they say, “Do two wrongs make a right?” Well, it doesn’t make it “even” in front of our kids. I was quite old when I learned that A-rab, (pronounced AY-rab) was a derogatory term. I just thought that was the proper term for the people that owned many of the stores in my neighborhood because that’s what everyone else called them.
Perhaps the worse incident was when I was in high school, I had a teacher and students thought his last name was “McQueer”. Because he was rather effeminate, jokes were made about how his last name matched his behavior. But one day I was in the hallway when another student saw him and said, “Hi Mr. McQueer.” He turned around like the exorcist and responded with, “What did you say? Did you call me McQueer?” With the most serious face, the student said, “Yes, that’s your name isn’t it?” He yelled back, “No, my name is McQueen!”
While I didn’t like the guy, I felt so bad for the both of them. She really thought that was his name because that’s what everyone else was saying behind his back, and he felt she was making a bold slur about his sexuality.
So I hope this causes all of us to check our hearts, because our mouth only speaks what is inside. We need to be willing to confront and change our racist/prejudice thoughts and actions, or we will poison yet another generation. We must also be willing to confront our own family members when they use these slurs. Some of you may be reading this and say, “I would never say offensive things like that…”, but do you condone when your family members crack the jokes, tell the stories, or talk about another group using slurs? When they may say, “Yea, that guy tried to Jew me down, but I stood firm…”, does that sentence ever cause us to raise an eyebrow?
I remember correcting my grandfather, a World War II veteran, when he was talking about “The Japs”. Sometimes, those who refer to imported-modified vehicles as “Ricers” need to be corrected as well, but first I had to correct myself. I thought, “Would the Japanese people I work with want me calling a car “Riced-Out” while I’m talking to them?” I doubt it.
Kinda makes me think, if the term “Redskin” is not offensive, would I go to a reservation singing the Hail To The Redskins song?
No thanks, I’ll pass, because like I always say, if someone like Dr. Laura thinks calling someone a nigger is okay because they call each other that, or someone thinks, “My “best friend” uses it…”, I dare you to roll up to “the hood”, find a group of black people, and go through saying, “What’s up niggers!”. Yea, and do it in Detroit, where the police response time is less than stellar. That will add even more excitement.
So lets truly teach our kids, that the most lovely sound to anyone, is their name. And if their name sounds like it might be offensive, ask them to repeat it first to avoid an embarrassing moment like my classmate.