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Piers Morgan Op-Ed: If black Americans want the N-word to die, they will have to 🤬 it themselves
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edited November 2014 in The Social Lounge
By: Piers Morgan
A 6-letter noun in the English language which the dictionary defines as ‘a contemptuous term for a black or dark-skinned person’. It’s such an inflammatory and offensive word that for any high profile white person to publicly use it, without abbreviating to ‘N-word’, is rightly tantamount to professional suicide and personal opprobrium.
I don’t use it; would never use it. But it has become astonishingly ubiquitous in modern American society. According to a new data survey by social media analytics Web site Topsy.com, it will be used, either as ‘n****r’ or ‘n***a’, 500,000 times on Twitter today.
By comparison, the words ‘bro’ and ‘dude’ are only used 300,000 and 200,000 times per day. These shocking statistics form part of a powerful study in today’s Washington Post. Headlined ‘THE N-WORD’ – even the Post shies away from actually saying it – it concludes: ‘The slur has become more prevalent in American life, but remains as divisive and complicated as ever.’ The reason it is so ingrained in pop culture is that many blacks, especially young blacks reared to the soundtrack of N-word splattered rap music, use it in an ironic way.
They’re aware of its history; they know from their parents and grandparents that arrogant, dumb, racist whites used it as a wicked, derogatory insult against their black slave forebears. And they enjoy the freedom of being able to say it now in the knowledge that it’s become taboo for whites to do so.
I understand this, and empathise.
It’s the same ironic reason many 🤬 call each other ‘f****ts’, why supporters of an English football team called Tottenham Hotspur, which has a large Jewish following, call each other ‘Y*ds’, and why some ardent feminists like to use the word ‘C**t’ with impunity. I get it.
But I don’t like it. And this is why: it doesn’t work. It has the COMPLETE opposite effect to the one that I imagine everyone who does this imagines it will have.
Far from ‘owning’ these words, seizing back control with the use of them, I believe it merely serves to empower those who wish to deploy them abusively - and encourage them to CONTINUE doing so. Your average dim-witted, foul-mouthed bigot – and there are plenty of them as Twitter can attest – thinks: ‘If they use it, why can’t I?’
They hear African-Americans say the N-word to each other and claim victory: ‘See, that’s what they even call themselves!’
It’s the twisted, horrible mind-set of the wretchedly ignorant.
I debated this issue many times during my tenure at CNN. Mike Tyson, who uses the N-word a lot in his excellent autobiographical stage show – insisted: ‘We have to think about how this word originated, where it came from. Just because we stop saying it won’t stop them (white racists) from saying it. They’re mad because they say it’s a double standard if they can’t say what we say amongst each other? I don’t plan on stopping saying it anytime soon.’
I don’t think it’s a double standard at all. The N-word is a grotesque, odious, evil stain on the English language. It symbolises everything multi-cultural America has fought so hard to move on from - white-run, imperialist, violent, sexually malevolent barbarism. Yet far from receding in society, it’s spreading; out of the once clearly defined confines of private usage in the black community, into the public hallways of every school in America.
This has to be wrong, doesn't it?
Better, surely, to have it expunged completely. Eradicated, obliterated, tied to a literary post and whipped into such brutal submission that it never rears its vicious head again.
But this will only happen when America’s black community applies the same level of tolerance to its own use of the word as that now APPLIED in the National Football League: zero. Teach the youth of today the N-word is so heinous that even to repeat it ironically is to perpetuate its poison. As a white man, I have no right to demand that any black person gives up using the N-word.
But as someone who believes passionately in civil rights, I just think it’s the right thing to do.
A graph from Topsy.com show how just the word 'n***a' has been tweeted anywhere from 300,000 to over 600,000 times a day each day for the past month
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