Yes Virginia, despite what you may hear on Fox News, Right-wing websites, and talk radio, "niggerization" is in fact a real word.
I have had my issues with Toure in the past--most notably his wholesale lifting of my argument that Herman Cain was/is a race minstrel--but I can be the bigger person and acknowledge that he was spot on in his description of Mitt Romney's ugly race-baiting campaign against President Obama. Earlier today on MSNBC, Toure made the matter of fact observation that:
Yeah, that really bothered me. You notice he says anger twice. He's really trying to use racial coding and access some really deep stereotypes about the angry black man. This is part of the playbook against Obama. The otherization, he's not like us. I know it's a heavy thing to say. I don't say it lightly. But this is niggerization. You are not one of us, and that you are like the scary black man who we've been trained to fear.Toure's only error here is when he, like many in the chattering classes are fond of doing when faced with plain truths, walked-back and qualified his claim about Romney's Southern Strategy 2.0 efforts to "blacken" Obama in the eyes of the white public in order to lighten his blow.
As I have argued here, Mitt Romney is a racist. In coming to this conclusion, I followed Marcus Aurelius' famous observation that we adopt the qualities of our deeds and actions. Romney is using overt and naked racial appeals to gin up white racial resentment, anxiety, and bigotry against the country's first black president. Consequently, he is a white racist. Q.E.D.
Toure was just afraid to close the circle. I am not. Ultimately, if you are going to put your size 13 shoe in another person's butt you might as well go all in. What is the point of pulling it halfway out?
That having been noted, Toure did commit a classic error, one that is common when folks with a great deal of expertise engage in a conversation designed for the lay public. In these circumstances, one needs to be direct, simple, and to the point. Toure has expertise in Cultural Studies, African-American studies, literary theory, and semiotics. The "academese" and technical language--what some would less kindly call "jargon"--always interferes with communicating in plain, direct, and simple tones in a public forum, for a general audience, and on a panel where you are afforded a few seconds to make a point.
Academics (and others with expert knowledge) often prefer to use one word that is dense and rich with meaning, and which pivots off of shared, inside assumptions, than to use several simpler terms to make (almost) the same point. Weapons are effective to the degree that they are deployed in the correct circumstances. Niggerization is a powerful word that perfectly captures the racial invective and stereotypes about race and representation which the Right has been systematically mobilizing against Barack Obama and his family.
Unfortunately, Joe Q. Public only hears the word "nigger." Toure just gave the Right-wing bloviators a talking point, a quill to use for writing their dishonest script that the Tea Party GOP and Mitt Romney are the party of racial equality, opportunity, and diversity, while the Democrats and Obama are the real "racists."
In reality, the Republican Party is the United States' de facto White Party. The Right and its supplicants will boohoo about "reverse racism" and "double standards" in order to force MSNBC to fire Toure. Don't worry, Mitt Romney and his surrogates will be calling President Obama an "angry black who hates America and is not really born in this country and secretly despises white people and wants to give the colored parasitic people free money and welfare at white people's expense while his wife secretly hates white people too and wants to make them eat their broccoli" by next week.
Old habits die hard. The Tea Party GOP is addicted to racism; they are unable to break the habit. The metaphorical glass pipe and that racist political crack rock got em tweaking and feenin.
Lest you think I am kidding about "niggerization" being a "real" word, here is Cornel West using the phrase in a talk at Harvard University a decade ago. The word itself has origins that go back to at least the 1960s and The Black Arts Movement if not earlier (perhaps an intrepid etymologist could find the first use of the word in print or elsewhere and share it with us here).