Inspired By Cheryl…

…but I went off on a tangent…

Cheryl, I’m a recovering alcoholic. Due to factors in my biological, emotional or spiritual constitution (I don’t really know which), I CAN’T DRINK!

Alcohol exists, yet that is not the cause of my alcoholism. The cause is something in me in combination with alcohol entering my body. I have found that not using any alcohol is the remedy for my alcoholism.

The word nigger is not alcohol; is is not, in an of itself, a trigger for people to drive through red lights, miss work, fight or do other heinous things. The word nigga might be used in those and other contexts, but was that a symptom or the cause? Some believe that the mere uttering of the word creates turmoil, bad feeling, hate/hatefulness. In some instances, maybe, in others maybe not.

Maybe the word nigger and the contention over it is similar to the alcohol problem: some people cannot drink, others can. Prohibition cannot and could not ever succeed. Its been tried. However, used in moderation and by the right people, perhaps the word could be educational, enlightening, empowering, managed, a teaching tool. Or even funny. Depending on the context.

Context is everything.

Who are the right people who can use this word carte blanche? They don’t exist. And no one can regulate the word. But maybe by adding more love and light and depth (oh, how we need more depth in this conversation) to one’s own person, that would be example enough to change other folks’ hearts. About using a word.

I mean, if somebody uses nigga like a mantra, that’s their choice. I don’t have to and its really none of my business if they do. I don’t use the word nigga as a mantra for me, but as a tool to illuminate. Most of the time. When I choose to use it.

The REAL issue is the disease of racism. Turning the Michael Richards fiasco into a moratorium on black folks using the “N-word” is an unintentional (or not) indictment. Its blaming the victim in disguise.

We catch hell because we call each other nigga. We experience racism because we use the word nigga. White people call us nigga because they become confused by US using it.

That is utter bullshit.

White folks use the word because they like the sound of it curling from their lips AND its comfortable, since the cradle they were rocked in was built on it. Its in their fucking DNA; no nigga has to teach a white person how to say nigga or give them permission.

Black folks use (and misuse) the word to take its power away (sometimes) and create something else with it. That’s what black people do. Create.

We took the pig and turned it into a gourmet meal. We took samples of other people’s music and turned it into hiphop. We create. I say, focus on the creative, positive aspects of all of this and fuck the negative. By focusing on the negative, YOU encourage the negative. If you don’t think you can get positive out of the word nigga, don’t use it.

How can we learn from this experience and what can we create?

One Response to “Inspired By Cheryl…”

  1. Oh, absolutely. If you do nothing but allow yourself to be negative about yourself you have no one else to blame when others treat you negatively.

    I think the only people with any right to use a word like “nigger” or “dyke” are those who live the experience. Maybe their allies. Outside of that, the only real context for the use of a word as inflammatory as those is to inflame.

    White people use “the ‘N’ word” because they can, because they have the “power” to use it. I agree that racism (and sexism, homophobia, etc.) is insidiously instilled in all of us from the cradle on especially, I think, in American culture although the more I read about the world, the more I see the pervasive touch of racism in many cultures, like the Indian women who use lightening creams to make themselves “more attractive.” We are taught to hate ourselves so much but none moreso than people of color on this earth.

    I think I’ll retract my wish for a world where no derogatory words are used. I would prefer, instead, a world where all words are used but no words are meant, or felt, to be derogatory.

    Thanks for the post, Max, and congratulations on your recovery!

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