Tag Archives: n-bomb

Book Review: Jabari Asim’s The N Word

by guest contributor Swerl, originally posted at Swerl

Pop quiz! Who said…

a) To be plain, I wish to get quit of Negroes…

b) I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in endowments both of body and mind.

c) I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race…

Answers?

a) George Washington (in a 1778 letter to his plantation manager)
b) Thomas Jefferson (Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785)
c) Abraham Lincoln (1858)!!

These bon mots and more are revealed in Jabari Asim’s new(ish) book, The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t, and Why. What Asim (syndicated columnist and deputy editor of the Washington Post Book World) has accomplished in this slender, powerful book, is a concise history of African-Americans… as told BY whites TO other whites.

Through the lens of the “N” word, from first recorded usage through today, Asim makes the persuasive case that whites could not deal with the dichotomy of being good, God-fearing men of noble purpose AND slave owners. Instead of abolishing slavery at the birth of the nation, our glorious founding fathers created a myth around those they had brutally imported from Africa to MORALLY justify the Africans’ enslavement. To do this, they created the “N—–”, and bent reality to fit their story. It helped the whites sleep at night AND get their cotton picked. Africans were not the same race as whites. They were animalistic in their joys, passions and fears. Because their pleasure was only base sexual gratification and their pain was “transitory”, there was no moral imperative to keep families intact, honor their history, allow them to keep their names or grant dignity to them in any way. Because they were “fearful” of freedom, and too stupid to be of use, slavery was, in fact, a COMPASSIONATE alternative to freedom.

Because they were not human, it didn’t matter if white men slept with black woman, but it was an affront for any lust-crazed Negro to sleep with a white woman.

Because they were simpleminded, they loved to dance and sing merrily while working 18 hour days.

But, because they were animalistic, they could turn mean and evil and needed to be put down.

W.E.B. Du Bois cleverly called this “racial folklore”, and insisted that its presence made the “color line”, as he called it, transcend simple economic exploitation. For example, while other ethnic minorities have been or are being exploited for their labor, it is unique to the black experience to have an identity manufactured by the dominant white society and then brutally and systemically imposed — even imprinted — onto them, the “…belief that somewhere between men and cattle, God created a tertium quid, and called it a Negro — a clownish, simple creature, at times even lovable within its limitations.”

In the subsequent pages, Asim traces the implementation of this “racial folklore” through American history, proving his point with devastating detail. Almost like a prosecutor, even if you have known all the facts, seeing them all pulled together in such a cogent way makes it clear to ANYONE that whites have tried to rewrite the reality of black America with the merciless, pernicious efficiency of Orwellian scope. “2+2=5″. Winston Smith needed not just repeat it, but BELIEVE it. Internalize it.

Slaves not willing to work in subhuman conditions? They’re lazy!
Slaves pretending to like whitefolk to get by? They’re jolly darkies!
Slaves try to run away because they don’t like being slaves? They’re aggressive, violent, predatory animals out to rape white women and kill white men!

Again, a quote by W.E.B. Du Bois sums it up perfectly. “Everything Negroes did was wrong. If they fought for freedom, they were beasts; if they did not fight, they were born slaves. If they cowered on the plantation, they loved slavery; if they ran away, they were loafers. If they sang, they were silly, if they scowled, they were impudent… And they were funny, funny — ridiculous baboons, aping men!” Continue reading

White Authors, Ethnic Characters

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I decided to give my overly analytical brain a break and delve into some light reading.

I love to read, and as a result of being willing to read anything and everything, I have picked up a few interesting habits.

Case in point being my affinity for paranormal romance novels. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason I love reading about the exploits of women with supernatural powers. After blowing through most of Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the OtherWorld Series, and waiting on the library to stock Kim Harrison’s For a Few Demons More, I was drawn to pick up MaryJanice Davidson’s work.

A bit fluffier (and more in line with the typical romance novel) than I am used to, I picked up the first few novels while smirking at the ditzy Valley Girl Vampire Queen Heroine. I was amused for three books, but was brought up short at the fourth. In fourth friend, the protagonist’s token black friend is riding in a car, and instigating a coversation about the n-word, much to the chagrin of the other white characters in the car.

“It’s just a word, I’m past it…” says the black character, before turning to a white character and saying, “You can call me it just once.” The white character stutters on the page.

I take a break from reading. I flip to the back flap to check out the author’s photo. Yup, just as I suspected…white. I continued reading the book to see how the situation was handled. Luckily, the conversation was dropped in favor of other pressing matters – like staking the undead.

Still, I felt a little shaken by the exchange. Can an author realistically portray someone of another ethnicity?

As a writer, I would say I hope so. Having cut my teeth working on short stories and screenplays (non-fiction writing didn’t happen until recently), my stories do not work in a mono-racial bubble. Some of my characters are black, some are Americanized Latino, some are mixed race-Asian, some are white…the character’s racial background and physical characteristics are chosen with care. The images that are afloat in my mind become realized on the page in the form they shaped. It is almost as if I do not choose a character’s ethnicity – it is simply there, one small part of the overall character. And while I do occasionally assign racial characteristics to my characters for social commentary purposes (i.e. the token white character in my screenplay, office friend to my two protagonists, largely serving as the sidekick/comic relief), for the most part, I let the story unfold as it will. Continue reading

Anthony Michael Hall uses the n-word on video

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

anthony michael hallI was wondering when the first celebrity racist incident would occur in 2007. I didn’t expect it to come from Anthony Michael Hall though. From TMZ.com, where you can also view the video:

Brat packer Anthony Michael Hall used the N-word twice while signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans last night, and it all went down outside the Laugh Factory, of all places.

Hall, the star of such 80s classics as “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club,” uttered several obscenities as he joked around with fans and photographers outside the same Hollywood comedy club where Michael Richards made his infamous rant back in November. When a particularly large, Hispanic looking fan came up to Hall looking to take a picture with him, Hall jokingly said, “I am scared of this nigga right here.”

About a minute or two later, while posing for a pic with another fan, Hall says to someone off camera, “What up nigga?”

Throughout the video, Hall half-seriously told several people to “get the f**k out of here” and joked that the cameraman would sell the video to a TV show — ha, close! During the taping, Hall also joked several times about being high.

Damon Wayans fined $320 for using the n-word at the Laugh Factory

by guest contributor Philip Arthur Moore, originally published at TheThink

How much is a “nigger” worth? Twenty dollars, apparently. Damon Wayans, the same man who attempted to trademark the word “Nigga” for a clothing line, has been banned from the Laugh Factory for three months, after using the word 16 times during his routine on Sunday. Said Wayans:

“I’ll be damned if the white man [Michael Richards] uses that word last. …This is part of our culture now…don’t take that from us.”

Wayans was fined $20 for each time he said the word, bringing the fine total to $320. Twenty bucks. Sorry Mr. Wayans, but for you to stand up and say that “this is part of our culture now”, I hope you never see the light of day with a trademark for the word “Nigga” in your hands. At this point, I understand why white people chastise blacks for being so damned hypocritical when it comes to this issue. Yes, it is hypocrisy.

Paul Mooney vows to stop using the n-word

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

As we reported yesterday, comedian Paul Mooney has vowed to stop using the n-word as a result of the Michael Richards incident. He joked about Richards, “He’s my Dr. Phil. He’s cured me.”

The question is, would abolishing the word really do any good? Here’s what a few other bloggers had to say about it.

Rachel Sullivan over at Rachel’s Tavern:

Maybe something good may come out of Michael Richards racist behavior. When people hear this word used in its historical context, and it is connected to lynching. Its power is apparent, and the idea of reclaiming it starts to look futile. Mooney has frequently defended the use of the n-word… Mooney noted that he was trying to take the power out of the n-word by using in his act (and in his comic writing for Richard Pryor), but something snapped in him when he saw Richards. He realized that the word still had power.

Jay Smooth at hiphopmusic.com writes:

I don’t use the word, and can’t say I’d particularly miss it, but I’m not sure what we accomplish by crusading against it. Does making a word taboo ever do anything but increase its power? If we did succeed in eradicating it, would it do anything to change the sentiments or thought process of those who use it? Or does it bring merely a cosmetic change in the vocabulary we use to reveal those thoughts, and make us less likely to put our cards on the table?

Nova at Novaslim.com writes:

What some of you uppity, self-righteous negroes fail to acknowledge is that “nigga” was being used for decades by blacks, long before hip-hop came into the picture. (Hip-hop in it’s early days never invoked the word.) Think about Lawanda Page or Richard Pryor. Think about your daddy and and your grand-daddy. Although Pryor said he’d never use the word again after visiting Africa, the ball was already rolling. By then it was viral, as slang tends to be. Please stop beating the same drum. Hip-hop and black youth can only shoulder the blame for so many things…

Let’s say Jay-Z stopped using it as well. Have we ended racism? How would you feel if you looked up one day, after spending all of your time and resources killing one word, to find that another word has been created to debase black people?

What do you think? Would abolishing the n-word actually make a difference in race and racism?

YouTube Wire: Free hugs, Harajuku and The Pimp Chronicles

by guest contributor Luke Lee, Racialicious’s senior YouTube correspondent

If there’s one fad that doesn’t seem to die down in online popularity it’s blackface. Despite all those millions of Weird Al “White and Nerdy” views and iTunes purchases (seriously, it’s been on the iTunes top 10 for a while. People aren’t just listening to it once and laughing, they’re buying the song.) people still feel the need to perform BWTAB particularly when sandwiched with a popular hip-hop song or a stereotypical rap beat. The so-called “Kings of MySpace” come in with their video which, simply, it sucks.

And speaking of music and music videos throwing around weird racial representations, we have of course good old Gwen Stefani who comes in with her “Wind It Up” music video which features those creepy Harajuku Girls (but in blonde hair this time). People, we’ve got to free the Harajuku/Gwenihana four!


Continue reading

Kramer drops the n-bomb repeatedly in racist tirade

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

kramer racist tirade n-bombApparently Michael Richards, who played Kramer on Seinfeld, went on a racist tirade on Friday at Los Angeles’s Laugh Factory after a black audience member heckled him.You can check out a really grainy video (must’ve been on a cell phone or something) here, but below is the gist of the tirade. From TMZ.com:

The camera started rolling just as Richards began his attack, screaming at one of the men, “Fifty years ago we’d have you upside down with a f***ing fork up your ass.”

Richards continued, “You can talk, you can talk, you’re brave now motherf**ker. Throw his ass out. He’s a nigger! He’s a nigger! He’s a nigger! A nigger, look, there’s a nigger!”

The crowd is visibly and audibly confused and upset. Richards responds by saying, “They’re going to arrest me for calling a black man a nigger.”

Ah yes, the good ole days when we could casually assault or kill blacks without fear of punishment or social ostracization.

But hey, I’m sure Richards didn’t really mean it. He was probably just drunk or something.

Update: Check out what other bloggers are saying about the tirade.

“Kramer” Launches into Racial Tirade During Comedy Set – Jack and Jill Politics
“Kramer” drops the N-word – Reappropriate
Ku Klux Kramer – The Assimilated Negro
Seinfeld Will Never Be The Same – TheThink

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