Sports columnist Jason Whitlock is often an interesting commentator on race issues, particularly as they relate to sports. Here’s an excerpt from his column today:

The people at the top of the rap music food chain should not be afforded such easy forgiveness. They know exactly what they’re doing. They know the dishonesty and the illogic that fuels the popular sentiment within commercial rap music industry that states the embrace of the N-word is harmless because young people have redefined it and erased its dehumanizing power.

This popular mantra is every bit as intellectually dishonest as the mantra that slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, lynching and discrimination are issues that no longer affect modern American society.

Jay-Z and the other denigration rappers and comedians love to say they’ve taken the N-word from bigots and transformed it into a word of affection and respect. It’s a lie.

The N-word was given to/slapped on black people in America 300 years ago to justify our mistreatment. It was given to define us as less than human so that mentally slave owners would have no trouble treating us as animals.

You don’t change something built to destroy you into something that uplifts you. It’s the equivalent of thinking the slop/food fed to slaves can be transformed into raw fruits and vegetables. As bad as our diet is today (and it’s a direct descendant of what we were forced to eat 300 years ago), actually what we’re trying to do with the N-word is much worse.

The N-word is human feces. It’s not meant for consumption. Jay-Z and his defenders can sauté human waste in butter and garlic for a month and it’s still gonna taste like $**t and lead to poor health.

As long as we keep cooking and serving up the N-word to each other, we’re going to remain mentally comfortable hunting and executing each other like animals and throwing on baseball caps supporting the killers.

Regardless of the user, the N-word is still doing the exact job it was intended to do in the 1700s. Hell, it’s doing a better job.

I honestly can’t claim enough familiarity with race issues to know how I feel about this. On the one hand, the attempted taking-over of the N-word and its concurrent attempted transformation into a tool of irony is a fascinating cultural development. On the other, I’m not sure it’s a good thing.

In fact, as a white male, I’m not sure I even can ever gain sufficient familiarity with race issues to have a genuine feeling about this, other than a vague sense that something is deeply wrong, that racism is still alive and well, albeit mostly bubbling beneath the surface. Trouble with that is, lots of things do even more damage when they’re bubbling beneath the surface, because that allows us to get complacent and think, oftentimes, that it’s not there at all.

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5 Responses to N

  1. Roger Owen Green says:

    I STILL HATE THAT WORD. The crap rationales have never worked with me.

  2. Anonymous says:

    As a white male you cannot have a legitimate opinion on race issues

    As a straight male you cannot have a legitimate opnion on sexual orientaion issues

    As a christian you cannont have a legitimate opinion on muslim or jewish issues.

    Thus as someone employed you certainly cannont have a legitimate opnion on those who are unemployed

    As someone who is working poor you cannot have a legitimate opnion on the rich

    see where this is going? You are entitled to your opnion

  3. New York Erratic says:

    Mindboggled when I hear somebody say "Oh, but THEY can use that word?"

    What "they"?

    If a trashy person wants to use it to describe themselves, well… trashy people do trashy things. Not trashy people of any color will not use it.

  4. Earl says:

    In the digital age is banning words the equivalent of burning books in pre wwII Germany?

  5. Kelly Sedinger says:

    Earl: Nobody's banning words.

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