Nigger Revisited

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“Those of us who weren’t destroyed got stronger, got calluses on our souls. And now we’re ready to change a system, a system where a white man can destroy a black man with a single word. Nigger.” This was an excerpt from Dick Gregory’s highly controversial 1964 autobiography entitled “nigger”. The excerpt was an ode to his material ancestors in effort to give hope for social healing and societal change regarding racism in America. My father, who was born in Virginia, once shared with me the bitter hardships of segregated entrances, racial defamation and instances of people turning their rabid dogs on him just because he walked near their houses. He spoke of having objects being hurled at him by occupants of passing vehicles, followed up by racially hurled epithets, as he was working on the roadways trying to earn a simple living. For me, it is hard to fathom a time such as this. A time where you are considered less than a human being. My generation was thought to be rebellious, yet undefined; so much that we were referred to by a single, solitary letter; X. But as I peruse through life and the lineage of my family’s history, I have come to the realization that I am very well aware of the polarizing effect racism has had on the black culture and black society as a whole. It has always motivated me from an educational standpoint, as I recognize the fact that my success at this point, is due to the fact that I am standing on the strong, unrelenting shoulders of my ancestral roots. Perhaps it is here that we find a disconnect in the modern day African American youth, as it relates to the histrionics of not only racism in America, but also the overall appreciation of the forefathers and foremothers who paved the way by plowing out the proverbial field dreams in a time where advancement was not an option nor a choice. We can always point a finger at education and the absence of African American representation with the exceptions of Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr. However, our black society as a whole owe it to ourselves to be preservationists as it relates to our own collective ancestry. It is glaringly apparent that the baton was dropped during the handoff exchange, especially when it was revealed in the recent racial scandal surrounding the Miami Dolphins, that African American men denounced a fellow African American teammate for not being “black enough”. And one would hope that the train to ignorance would stop right there, however, they would go on to allude that they accepted a Caucasian teammate as being black, so much that he was allowed to call them nigger as a form of acceptable endearment. I for one, have a plethora of friends with diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. I completely endorse the “brother from another mother” premise and the kinship that is developed that blurs the lines of color. In fact the Reggae artist Junior Reed has a song entitled “One Blood” that could be an anthem for racial healing. Yet the fact still remains, the plight of the African American in this country is not one that can be related to by donning on the shoes of empathy or having an impoverished upbringing. The hate and the evil behind the word “nigger” is far greater then any other racial slur or verbiage spelled out in the English dictionary. Only an idiot would want to be inducted and enshrined into the shackles of the disenfranchised, the genocidal, the raped, the murdered, the degraded and the barbarically annihilated heritage associated with something a simple as skin tone. What saddens me more than anything, is the fact that those African Americans who endorsed him, have no clue of the message that they send out to society as a whole. The message? That the word “nigger” is really not that bad and that our ancestors were actually treated fairly. But who is to blame, other than ourselves? We utilize it in our vernacular and trend set it throughout our music. And when artist like Nasir Jones tries to bring educational light to the word, just like his predecessor Dick Gregory, he was chastised and ridiculed for doing so. Nasir promulgated to the world: “They say we N-I-double G-E-R…We are much more, still we choose to ignore the obvious…Man this history don’t acknowledge us…We was scholars long before colleges”. Sadly enough, only a few people listened to the lyrics and apparently the Miami Dolphin players were not amongst them. Placing honor on a badge of demoralization all but returns us to the chains of slavery. It states that we fought a great fight, but ultimately we lost the war. There may be those who ignorantly believe that the over saturated usage of the word may lessen its power, but to them I suggest that they trade skins with me for a week. John Griffin did in the book “Black Like Me”. It was then and only then that he came to understand the stigmatized pain associated with the African American plight. The war is not over as the struggle continues to rage on. Racism is a complex tradition and not just a word of simplicity. #educate yourself

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2 Responses to “Nigger Revisited”

  1. jonathan clarke Says:

    Nice Article brother!

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