Nigg*r vs. Qu**r
First off, I only *’ed the “e”‘s in the title to get it past any web filters. MNESD-forbid that we use any harsh language in our free speech. Oh, and because I’m a white guy and Chris Rock tells me my N-word privileges have been revoked. Not that I’m just itchin’ to use the word (it’s the second-worst slur in America in my opinion*); I just feel it’s hypocritical to stand up for free speech and then say some words are a little too free to be spoken
This is the title of a post up by John Ridley at Huffington’s place that deserves a read. It’s about the assumption that black folks can’t dare hear the dreaded “N-word” and how left-wing political correctness helps feed right-wing racism. Ridley also gives props to how gay people handled a similar linguistic challenge with far different results (emphasis mine):
The left wants to wield the righteous sword of politically correct censorship in a hamfisted attempt to protect what they perceive as the otherwise “weak” and “helpless” black man. They wish to neuter the word nigger so that it will not shatter blacks’ fragile nature. You do not see the word in print in mainstream media. And though entertainment companies make serious bank pimping “niggaz” to middle America, you do not hear the word associated with true discourse in the media.
Yet, how many media executives or newspaper publishers who made the decision to amputate nigger into “the N-word” are people of color themselves? Or is it merely “them” deciding what’s best for “us?” …
There is not one individual on this planet who can make a black into a nigger. We can only do that to ourselves. Yet aided and abetted by fear of the right and largess from the left some are all too happy to be accomplices in their own demise.
This is where gays got it right. There was a time when queer was a harsh pejorative for homosexual. But instead of trying to force people into using convoluted phrases such as “the Q-word,” they embraced the word queer. Gays stole it from their enemies, waved it like a captured war flag which they then strung from the standards of pop culture: Queer as Folk. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. By flogging it endlessly they took away its intended sting. So, then, go on and call a gay queer. At worst they will laugh and shake their heads. At the least they may say: “yes, thanks.”
Acceptance of the word does not end homophobia. It does not stop the hate mongers from trying to inject bigotry into the Constitution. However, unlike some in the black community, upon mention of the once dreaded word gays will not drop into a fit of histrionics.
Too true. I once joked about how the language morphed from “Negroes” to “people of color” to “blacks” to “African Americans” and that if it kept on evolving, we might find ourselves at a place where black folks decide to really mess with our heads and tell us white folks to call them “nigg*rs” once again… and then change the directive only a week later. You know, at the monthly meeting or something. 😉
* And the #1 winner: c*nt. But y’all knew that already, didn’t you?