Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Healing Fountain of Richard Pryor and Renewing My Embargo Against the Word "Nigger"

Nigger is the ugliest word in the English language. In writing about the Republican Party's white supremacist fueled hatred towards Barack Obama, I had no choice but to tell the truth: the White Right views Obama as a "nigger" and it would be much more efficient if they were honest and simply said as much publicly.

Words have power. They also exact a cost. More than ten years ago, I vowed to never use that word unless I was quoting a piece of literature or said language was unavoidable. I now have to reinstate my vow and find my sobriety again.

Richard Pryor is the greatest American comedian of the modern era. His wisdom helped me to delete that word, and the ugly energy it channels, from my day-to-day vocabulary. I wish that others would do so as well. Instead, we see the common silly talk and intellectually flaccid distinctions where otherwise smart people argue trite foolishness that the word "nigger" is somehow different from "nigga".

Shorter version. The word "nigger" is an act of psychic violence and internalized white supremacy against and by black people, respectively.

Any found wisdom, personal codes of honor, or promises that you have made to yourself from which you have deviated and now need to renew?


GT said...

Needgrow Pleaseee... I am never deleted any words from my portfolio nor will I ever retreat to political convenience ...

Of course I will never hide and post under an alias or behind a mast and cloak like you CD:-)

Greg Thrasher
Plane Ideas
Alternative Think Tank
Washington DC

michael burns said...

Leave it better than I found it.

chauncey devega said...

If we would all follow that rule the world would be much much better.

Anonymous said...

I don't keep up with anyone who uses that word, for any reason, ever. Except my Grandma, because she's my Grandma. And I give her grief everytime she utters it.

As someone who's relapsed, Chauncey, can you give me some insight into what's difficult about not using anti-African hatespeech? It always comes across to me as self-loathing and deep-seated confidence issues. I call Europeans 'pink,' -- because, you know, it's a statement of biological fact, unlike 'white,' which Europeans have elevated to near mythology. I've actually encountered African Americans who call me 'racist' for calling Europeans pink, but who, when I tell them not to use anti-African hatespeech when speaking with me, call me 'sensitive,' or trot out the adolescent avoidance you point to: 'it's just a word,' 'it doesn't matter what you're called, it matters what you answer to,' 'it's all about how you say it.'

What is with the addiction? Is it as self-loathing as it sounds? Or is it just just-along-to-get-along, do as the Romans do? As a recovering anti-African hatespeech addict, please explain it to me, Chauncey.

Michael Varian Daly said...

Us Northern Europeans are pretty much 'pink' [English and Irish here] though some really are so pale as to truly BE 'white'. Southern Europeans tend toward 'olive' and related shades.

This is one of the reasons I have trouble with the phrase 'People of Color'. *All* humans have Color. But the main reason I have an issue with it is because it perpetuates the Specialness of Whiteness in that it divides the world into People of Color and White People.

chauncey devega said...

I don't know if I would call people "pink". Whiteness is a fiction; being white identified is what matters in terms of privilege. Let's use the nomenclature as given.

Playing in the Dark, Dyer's book White, and Painter's a History of White People have lots to offer on some of those questions. If you haven't read them try to seek them out. There are very smart folks who would disagree with me too. Against Race by Gilroy and West (I believe) could be of interest too.

On the common use of the word "nigger" or "nigga" by black people perhaps it is as simple as internalized racism and living in a world where anti-black sentiment is so damn common (despite a cultural fetishizing of "blackness"....big difference) that some just uncritically accept it.

If the masses are asses--which I submit that they are--then why would black people be any different? Being unreflective, brainwashed, and stupid ain't uncommon.

Anonymous said...

I took as many race studies classes in school as the next guy. I've read my Morrison. The mainstream academic analysis re: 'whiteness' has several problems. That's a different conversation. I used the pink example to point to the root of what is at work here.

I've been African American all my life, so I know what I think of the 'black masses.' I wanted to ask you, as someone who does not come across as unreflective, brainwashed, and stupid in your writing, why you personally use anti-African hatespeech. Here as elsewhere, I very rarely get a straight answer when I pose this question. 'Why do you NEED to use it? Why can't you just stop,' I ask people regularly. The usual response is embarrassed silence, avoidance, or deflection. The most honest answer I've ever heard is, 'well, s/he really is one.' In other words, for those few speakers, ni**r is a finite character, set of values, and identifiable behaviors not only borne by some Africans, but which actually justify anti-Africanism. By logical extension, it's clear that the speakers, when calling themselves or allowing others to call them ni**er, believe that they themselves are exhibiting their identified character, values, and behaviors, and therefore any anti-Africanists that attempt to target the speakers with anti-African hatespeech or other anti-African hostility are justified. This, I believe is the source of the silence, the deflection, and the avoidance, like yours. Those minority of African Americans who use this sick language still have enough residue of the African dignity they learned at their mothers' knees that they are most often ashamed to say truly why they revel in anti-African hatespeech: because they believe its use is justified and accurately applies to them.

I made the mistake of clicking on Oprah Winfrey's facebook page one day. It was looping an episode of 'Oprah's Masterclass,' I think it's called. Anyway, some Euro American woman called in to ask Iyanla Vanzant to offer advice on evading a boyfriend or husband who was beating her up. Vanzant said something that I'll never forget: 'We only accept punishment when we think we deserve it.'

This is why it's so hard to get this minority of African American anti-African hatespeech proponents to answer straight about why they traffic in this sick shit: because they are advocates of white pride and European interests and themselves anti-African racists.

I wish these people, who use that language to spit in their mothers' faces and burn their grandparents' graves, would be courageous enough to own up to it, to tell the truth about themselves. Not about the 'black masses.' Not about 'we.' But about themselves. About yourself.

/s/ S. Farin

Anonymous said...

Yea, I don't like the 'people of color' language either. But not because it denotes Europeans as special. You only process it that way because you're European. It's actually meant and used to connote Europeans as uniquely barbarous.

Apparently, the term was created by Dorothy Height and Mary McLeod Bethune in the middle of the last century. The recounting I heard was that they were planning some activism RE: African American women. Somehow, a group of Hispanic and Asian American women got wind of it, and asked Height and Bethune if they could join. They agreed, and changed their group's name from its African American-specific original ('Negro Women' something or other, if I remember right) to 'Women of Color.'

Then and now, the language is meant and used perpetuate the notion that the problem with the world is Europeans, and that Africans have some common cause with other non-Europeans. Being African American, I find that a shitty analysis. The problem for African American and global African interests is not Europeans, it's anti-African racism. And Asians are as guilty there as their caucus mountain cousins.

Michael Varian Daly said...

However you choose to slice, it still makes Whites 'special'.

gwoman said...

"Nigger has never been a part of my vocabulary; however the adjective "ghetto" has always rankled.

D. Wright said...

Amongst the Mandinka, though I am no expert, there is a particular idea of Taboo. Breaking a Taboo, like killing a "weak" wild animal or sacrificing an unborn child, wouldn't render the breaker a pariah. Instead he or she would suffer grievous spiritual injury and risk death, but if s/he survives their occult powers would be that much greater.

I made a similar vow when I was young(er) that I've since broken. I still don't use it in vain to refer to friends, family, or even enemies. It's noxious and macabre so I use it to carve the suffering of the Ancestors into the Living, so that the readers/listeners "feel" the violence; the Maafa that made them, us, and the Americas. Uttering the word, breaking the Taboo at severe costs to my own well being, is the only means of thoroughly expressing the dread, agony, dishonor, and dejection that is particular and ubiquitous to Black existence across the span of modernity. It's the only means of making it explicitly clear that we are still living in the world slavery created. That the past has not yet past. That we can either endure this painful world and living death, or break it.

It's critical to understand that one has to be a Slave, and recognize their enslavement, to desire freedom. It is equally critical to recognize one's niggerization to claim one's Humanity. That's what we're fighting for: not merely voting rights, not merely integration, not merely self-determination, not merely education, but to declare our lives as sacrosanct and worth defending. This, I feel, is the spring from which the Black Radical Tradition is drawn. We cannot lay the word to rest until the Struggle is complete.

James Estrada-Scaminaci III said...

I attended the "Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act" at the Beebe Memorial Church in Oakland, CA, featuring Howard Moore, Jr., Clayborne Carson, and Angela Davis. I will paraphrase what Howard Moore (I'm certain it was him) talked about using the N-word. First, he thought the abbreviation "N-word" was stupid. Second, he argued that if the only obstacle black people faced was that white people called them N*s, big deal. That word does not account for disparities in income, wealth, home ownership, health care outcomes, education outcomes, nutrition outcomes, and overall life chances outcomes. Instead of attacking the white renegades who use the word or other words, attention should be focused on the system of white supremacy that generates these disparate outcomes. Now, I never use the word except in a direct quote, for example, the famous explication by Lee Atwater. But, that word conveys hate and malice. Quite frankly, in my white naivete, I wince when black people call each other that.

joe manning said...

I've made it to the 4th season of The Wire and I have yet to be desensitized to the n-word. Its use is a masochistic insult to oneself, an expression of self hatred and self destruction. Like the f-word its a stupid, immature, irrelevant, ugly word, that will only become obsolete when its not used anymore.

D. Wright said...

Howard Moore is half right. If we were merely despised there would be no problem, but "ni**er", when used by White people, is not merely an alternative way of saying "I hate you". Rather, it is used to convey that you, all of you collectively wield absolute structural power over us at this moment in history. Whether we are being beaten to death by police, left to die in a hospital corridor, or occupy the Oval Office our condition waxes and wanes at the whims and needs of White society. We may be arbitrarily destroyed at any moment so we live a deferred death. That is the difference between ni**er and ofay or cracker.

chauncey devega said...

Good points. I rarely used that language anyway, and when I did would fall into the Chris Rock trap as you alluded to. But never in public and only in some select private black spaces.

You did write this:

"Those minority of African Americans who use this sick language still have enough residue of the African dignity they learned at their mothers' knees"

What is this "African dignity" you speak of? Be very careful of Afrotopian dreaming and false Afrocentric notions of reality--they can be just as damaging as Eurocentric fictions.

chauncey devega said...

"The problem for African American and global African interests is not Europeans, it's anti-African racism."

is the problem not much more complicated? And why conflate all of Africa as one place? Moreover, what of how "Africans" are increasingly seen as act like "elevated ethnics" in the U.S. who are separate and apart and better than black Americans?

As you know I have no use for Afrotopian dreaming and do not see myself as naturally allied with "Africans".

Buddy H said...

I remember seeing this film in a theater when it was first released. At the time, more comedians were throwing the word around. When Pryor made his pledge, I thought that would put a stop to things, because he was the top dog of comedy. Not black comedy. All comedy. But the word wouldn't go away.

Have you read "The Negro Motorist Green Book"? I came across it today, and thought it must have been an invaluable guide to black entertainers who toured the U.S. for a living:

It was founded in 1936 by an African-American employee of the U.S. Postal Service named Victor H. Green, who realized that with the new availability of automobiles to a rising African-American middle class, travelers of his race increasingly required a guide to navigate the informal and treacherous logic of discrimination. The segregation of public transport made private ownership of motorcars highly attractive to the mobile African-American, and in addition there were increasing numbers of African-American athletes and entertainers who required to travel as a part of their work. George Schuyler put it well in 1930: “All Negroes who can do so purchase an automobile as soon as possible in order to be free of discomfort, discrimination, segregation and insult.”

Anonymous said...

I'll just say quickly that it's interesting to me that you say your use of anti-African hatespeech 'fell into the Chris Rock trap.' You mean the, 'there are "blacks" and then there are "ni***rs"' sickness he 'jokes' about, right? I think it's interesting that you say that then make a point to demean what you call 'Afrotopian dreaming and false Afrocentric notions of reality.'

This strikes me as a clue to how it is that people like yourself could bring themselves to use anti-African hatespeech.

That there are Africans in the world with reverence and affection for identifiable and articulable distinct values common to men and women throughout the African World is for you cause for mockery and dismissal. The reason this strikes me as a clue to your use of anti-African hatespeech is that, for me (and I sense for many African Americans in my personal life -- it's not something we discuss much for maybe obvious reasons), my non-use and outrage at anti-African hatespeech was never a deliberate or purposeful effort. It wasn't some promise or exercise in self-control I made to or imposed on myself. And I don't even have any memory of ever being schooled or admonished by my family in the hows and why-fors of this verboten language. For me, and I sense for many African Americans, my anger and outrage on encountering that language is part of and extends from my reverence and affection for fellow Africans (yes, just for being African), and my pride -- unspeakable and giddy -- in being blessed to be born to these people. Anti-African hatespeech is an intentional attack on that beauty, ingenuity, and grace.

This may read as unnecessarily rhapsodic to people who do not share or intimately know that reverence. There may even be suspicion of insincerity behind your words in your reply here and above to my comment @ Michael Daly. If it reads hollow, that may point to why disgust at anti-African hatespeech is or has been situational for you, and why its non-use has required your conscious, deliberate effort. It also makes me curious again about your ethnicity -- if you're African American vs some other kind of African. I'm not asking for an answer there, but your dismissal of reverence for commonly-held African values and fellow Africans, and your one-time engagement in us vs. them, 'some really are ni***rs' Chris Rock poison, these things are unusual for African Americans. The reverence I'm talking about and the repellance of intra-African us vs themism are, in my experience and partly for historical structural reasons, bedrock African American values.

That's my off-the-cuff response. Please excuse me if I've missed or glossed over any of your points. I'm happy to continue if so, especially because I initiated the question. But those are my first impressions.

/s/ S. Farin

D. Wright said...

I agree with what you mean about the Chris Rock nonsense. From what I've gleaned, there are three reasons Black people say ni**er:

Firstly, they were socialized that way by family and peers, which I frankly don't understand because I wasn't raised in that world. Nevertheless, they are so accustom to using it there's little anyone can do to make them stop

Secondly, some use it to like necromancy, "raising the Dead", transmuting our knowledge of their suffering and rage into experiencing their suffering and rage for ourselves. It's an Afro-Pessimistic Sankofa, though it is only a whisper of what they endured. That is the only instance when I will use it, and I've never used it for any other purpose.

Thirdly, there are those who use it because they are inclined to feeling superior to others. Or rather, they are inclined to regard some people as trash that is best disposed of or made "useful". Psychologically, they are most similar to Conservative White Racists in their flippant degrading of Black humanity. In my opinion, their fortune and talent have made them more vulnerable to internalized Anti-Blackness than anyone else. They'll carry themselves with "Grace" and raise a stink about "Ghetto Fools" while structural violence, America's day-to-day business, claims 100,000 Afro-American lives every year.

balitwilight said...

On Comedy Central XM today I heard a "black" comedian clowning for his audience for hysterical laughs with jokes contrasting aggressive and plain-spoken "black" women against the compliant and delicate "white" women. I have 2 sisters so I knew his jokes were rooted in lies. 5 years ago I still might have laughed. But today I listened with pained recognition, like a man who now understands he is breathing poisoned air. It wasn't an accident that same comedian dropped the word "Nigger" like a Tourette's patient.

In the movie "The Matrix" computers were programmed to generate a constructed reality so immersive and total that it took a mind-bending effort just to perceive the artificiality and viciousness of the construct. In the same way, a cultural virus of White Supremacy has infected and programmed the minds of every man, woman and child that contacts a now-global culture. Just as with the fictional Matrix, this matrix was designed initially to enslave, but its code still runs amok today in every social machinery of this and other countries.

The code of the "White Supermacy Matrix" isn't software, it is "culture-ware": Precepts, Conventions, Taboos and - above all - Language. "BLACK". "WHITE". "RACE". That is the basic DNA of this artificial virus. It is old, but it was made up. Simple - but when you code for "White"=Superiority then enforce by violence until the virus is forcibly injected into universal human activities of describing others, of hierarchies, sexual selection, who is "us" vs. "them" - you get what we have today: a construct that we are immersed within, that continues its prime directive to harm many and privilege some even when the slaveholders are 100 years dead.

The genius of this matrix is that, even when attacked, it spreads and rebuilds itself because the very language used to attack it is already compromised by its DNA: "Black". "White", "Race". (It's resilient like HIV in that way). I have come to believe that the only way out is a radical attack on the DNA, the language, the concepts of "Black", "White", "Race" - a mind-bending effort to recognise their inseparable artificiality and harmfulness as the very fabric of the White Supremacy Matrix.

Like the glitches in The Matrix, I began noticing glitches and asking questions: Why can a "white" woman have a "black" child, but a "black" woman cannot have a "white" child? Of all the myriad variations that humans have: (height, hair colour, skin tones, shape,... not to mention all the real ethnic variations), why do some magical combinations of skin colour and hair texture and spoken language create a "Race"? If Africa is a vast continent having 55 distinct nations and more linguistic and real genetic diversity than anywhere else in the world - why is Africa the one continent that is synonymous with a "Race" and treated linguistically as one place? And... coming back to that "black comedian", I ask myself, who do these concepts - "Black", "White", "Race" - really serve?

A diabolical subset of Germans once gave it a go with their own construct. It was just as elaborate: Aryans, Untermenschen (lower races), Mischling (mixed), Unarische (Non-Aryans), etc. Somehow the world was able to gear up its immune system and fight off that particular virus. There is no constituency in German today that has proudly self-internalised a "proud identity" as "Unarische". Use the word Mischling today, and you will rightfully get cold stares. But use "multi-racial or bi-racial" on NPR, and you will be applauded as tolerant and forward-looking.

chauncey devega said...

As you likely know, although I am not sure, I have no use for race essentialism. Period.

Afrocentrism is a mythic belief system conjured up to do political work. Like all mythic belief systems it is based on some truths and lots of lies. It is not unique in that way. I am a proud black American I do not have to come up with some sort of Afrotopian dreaming for a mythologized past of which I have no cultural connection to, nor desire or emptiness to fill. That is my choice. Others have some need to find "the motherland". Some people also have a psychological or perhaps even biological need to be religious and believe in fairy tale god(s).

Your claims here are based on a false construct:

"That there are Africans in the world with reverence and affection for identifiable and articulable distinct values common to men and women throughout the African World"

"African world?" Huh. No such thing. If you have some evidence or resources to provide that collapse together a continent full of different people, languages, identities, religions, etc.

You also wrote this:

"You simply will not find widespread incidences of commonly-held reverence and affection for fellow Africans"

How does that account for all the warfare, murder, butchery, and other cruelties you see among "fellow Africans".

Moving forward please do register w. disqus and choose a name instead of signing under anonymous.

I would also be careful about psychologizing based on erroneous assumptions you likely have about the host at our virtual bar. Just a heads up.

chauncey devega said...

The Negro Green Motorist Guide is one powerful artifact. Toure mentioned my allusion to it on MSNBC. So many things have changed; so many remain the same with informal sundown towns.

chauncey devega said...

I have a question. Some will be upset by it. Am i alone in thinking that as good as The Wire is, that it is a bit overrated?

chauncey devega said...

We need to deal with institutional inequality; we also need to understand the interlocking relationships between the emotional, creative, psychic, and material that you so deftly outline.

chauncey devega said...

Do elaborate as that word too is very misused.

Buddy H said...

As a life-long comedy nerd (I studied the silent film comedians, the 1930s screwball comedies, 1950s hipster "sick" humor, the counter-culture standup acts like George Carlin and Pryor) I place Richard Pryor at the top of all standup comics. People like Redd Foxx paved the way. Redd was plain speaking and could hit you in the gut with his observations. Pryor continued and in my opinion became the greatest. I've read they're trying to put together a bio-pic, but there's been some controversy over casting. Who can play Richard? His family wants it done right.

I never saw Richard Pryor live. I attended his concert films. I was less a fan of some of the acting roles they gave him. I liked seeing him alone on a stage with an appreciative audience (although he could handle hecklers). Seeing the clip you posted brought back memories of the whole performance film.

joe manning said...

Its an idealized expose of the ravages of poverty and unemployment that for me was a real eye opener. Bunny attributes the chronic antisocial behavior of inner city youths to "humiliated fury." Its writers obviously know a lot about the police, druggies, kingpins, politicians, teachers, students, schools, prisons, churches, and how they all interact. Of particular interest is season four's exposition of public education's handling of "corner boy" unteachables, teachables, "teaching the test," monthly truancy quotas, juking the stats, the school to prison pipeline, and warehousing.

chauncey devega said...

I saw Pryor's last live performance in Atlantic City in the early 1990s. So sad. But there was something whimsical and great in how he faced death too.

chauncey devega said...

The Baltimore journalist's work upon which the show is based is spot on and smart. In my opinion, there is a bandwagon effect with The Wire. Or maybe I am just tired of hipster guilty white liberal college kids fawning over it with some type of culturally voyeuristic glee. When they ask me about the show and how "transformative" it was for their "thinking about urban poverty and black people" I then ask, well what are you going to do now? Silence.

chauncey devega said...

I asked you to choose a proper name because you write thorough and long comments. Moreover, I made that rule some time ago and for a short comment here and there it is fine. For longer comments, not so much.

Your comment is full of assumptions which are simply not correct and border on being hostile and not very open or critical or reflective. The tone here at WARN is to ask questions and to talk to folks in a way that you would in person. Now, if you make all sorts of assumptions about a person's training and intellect and background in real life and with that tone then we likely would not be agreeable with one another.

I am very familiar w. the works you mention. I know about and have read about the notion of a Black Atlantic. I can talk with some confidence about the idea of Africanisms/cultural syncretisms in the New World, etc. You got your 3rd world press volumes down. And that is not a dig, 3rd world press is a wonderful resource. I have also read Manning's great work too.

You forget that I used to go the Black Man think tanks, Harlem book fairs, have seen many of the elders in Afrocentric lecture in person and have great respect for folks like Na'im Akbar and others. The late Ivan Van Sertima's work is also very compelling too--even as many of his claims and overall thesis have been challenged by other smart people...which is a good thing.

I am dismissive of the fundamental race essentializing norms that there is something naturally or psychically in common among "Africans". As I said above, you have a serious construct validity problem. What Africans? What part of the continent? What tribe? How was that sense of identity changed across the Middle Passage? What of individuals and their varied experiences?

Do you think there is something "African" in how black Americans as individuals in this part of the world for 5 or so centuries at least make their own individual life experiences, decisions, conceptualize the world, etc?

I get the deep yearning that so many have for a "motherland" and some type of cultural connection to a place they do not know and have romanticized. As I have said before, I am a black American, I tend to not use the word "African-American" unless I have to.

You are psychologizing. I do not want to get in the gutter as you claim I am simply pointing out your tone and style which is off putting and unnecessary. Yes, lots of Afrocentrism as an ideology is fantastical dreaming and myth making. Tales of black Cleopatra, "the motherland", and "African consciousness" as well as "Afrikan people" (I use that spelling intentionally) is an intentional counterpoint to the Eurocentric myth making that has caused so much destruction and pain around the world. Both are myths and lies however. Nevermind agitprop b.s. like the Willie Lynch letter.

When I say Afrotopia I am referencing the title of Moses's book as well as Howe's work.

It would be great if you would continue to offer your perspective, even as much as I am disagree with it. All that I ask is that you be more reflective of your tone and to choose a proper name to register w. disqus. If you are weary of privacy issues set up a dummy gmail account and use that. If not, then, I wish you the best going forward.

Kameshwari Kate said...

Even though I am a Caucasian who grew up in Milwaukee, I've never used the word as part of my vocabulary. When I hear others use the word, I shrink and shake to my core. Sometimes I would be so shaken at the use of the word that the user would be instantly aware that I've just received the intended violation, even if it was not meant for me.
I will make a confession and would prefer to hold back and keep silent. Here it is: When I am with a Caucasian who is acting, being stupid, saying something ignorant or displaying obnoxious behavior, I'll say something like, "Your behavior is worse than an eff-ing .......!" When I say this, I find that it comes with an outpouring of anger and disdain.
My first response to myself is to ask, "Where did that come from?" But after reading WARN and all of the comments here, it is easy to unpack how language carries extremely powerful cultural methods of superiority.

chauncey devega said...

"African dignity learned at their mothers' knee' to 'black Cleopatra,' 'motherland,' 'African consciousness,' spelling Africa with a K, and the Willie Lynch hoax?"

Very easily. As you are talking about some type of "African consciousness".

Cultural traits or carryovers are not consciousness. By your logic, are white folks who consume "black music" now possessed of "African consciousness?"

America is hybrid black culture. Does that mean Americans have "African consciousness?"

I am simply responding to your tone. What is this set of "African interests?" Again, please define terms.

"So you've dug in with this defensiveness all because you think I'm making a 'Blacker than Thou' charge at you? I have no problem remarking on someone's distance from or hostility to African interests".

You wrote:

"All of those things are obvious to African and non-African laymen, and their sources are easily surmised."

What are these "obvious" matters? Again, this is problematic in terms of historiography and theory. Please clarify.

I think you are well intentioned, but need to work harder on your unstated assumptions about what it means to be "African" and this "African consciousness" and your standards for what constitutes evidence claims.

Some cultural borrowing or liking of bright colors does not constitute "African consciousness".

Was interesting.

Gable1111 said...

The Wire is a great show but for them was just entertainment. And they reveled in somehow being viewers of the show made them "aware" of what "really goes on in the ghetto."

chauncey devega said...

Language does political work; language can also do violence. You are in a tough position. What do white folks do when racial slurs are used around them? Gay slurs around "straight" people?

Misogynistic language is so common that most don't call attention to it too. We have lots of work to do as a culture.

joe manning said...

While The Wire and Orange is Black can be enlighteningly transformative they fall short of institutionalizing empathy. Our tribalism keeps us confined within the various particularistic moralities as opposed to universal ethics.

Pam_L said...

Ugly people invent ugly things, and words are no exception.

chauncey devega said...

Orange is the New Black is a good show, very interesting and transparent too in how its creator/writer has publicly stated that she chose to use a white main character in order to create a sense of empathy and attachment--and to get the show sold--from white viewers...even though black women are disproportionately caught up in the prison industrial complex. Sad isn't it? How a different "color" can create that gap of interest and empathy. White privilege is cultural narcissism.

joe manning said...

Yes, how do whites get from hostility, to indifference, to sympathy, to empathy?

Pam_L said...

This comment is absolutely brilliant. Just like in the movie, most people are unaware of 'the matrix' of white supremacy, but it is vital for everyone who has been duped by it that we recognize it for what it is--a construct of lies that has insinuated itself into the most difficult place to remove it: the human mind. But I believe that the process of 'deleting' this insidious 'virus' has begun, and will ultimately be successful.