a word with consequences

5 12 2006

You’ve probably heard about the debacle that Michael Richards (a.k.a. Kramer on Seinfeld) got into with his use of the n-word when referring to African-Americans.  I’m not for censorship, but when a word hurts people, it should be avoided when possible.  Using slanderous or hateful speech is not necessary to get your point across.

I just came across an article by LZ Granderson called a word with consequences.  He makes a good argument for all people to quit using the word.

Here’s a couple of excerpts if you don’t have time to read it all :

If you visit the iTunes Web site right now and preview the first five tracks from The Game’s new CD, “Doctor’s Advocate,” you will hear the n-word about 15 times in a 2½ minute span.

I bring this up because “Doctor’s Advocate” was the top-selling CD in the country last week. The same week Michael Richards was blasted for his “I’m not a racist” racist rant.

Now, I’m not trying to call out The Game. In fact, I’m sure I used the word a couple of times last week myself. And I’m certainly not cutting Kramer any slack either. But I do find it’s getting more and more difficult to intelligently celebrate a black man who repeatedly calls himself “n—–” and then chastise a white guy for saying “He’s a n—–.” It just seems like there’s a disconnect there.

So, though I usually tend to ignore the opportunistic exploits of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, I do applaud this week’s news conference in which he challenged Hollywood and musicians to abandon the word. …

But why do I and others insist on keeping it alive? … We can continue to believe that it’s OK for blacks but not whites to say it, but only three things come from the “do as I say, not as I do” approach to life: resentment, rebellion and worst of all, apathy. …

So this holiday season I’ve decided to give myself the gift of dignity by cutting the n-word out of my vocab. I’m not on some PC crusade, and I’m not trying to be sanctimonious. But to paraphrase Luke 6:45, a man speaks what is in his heart. In a moment of anger, Michael Richards did. When my feet are held to the fire, I don’t want the n-word to come out. More importantly, I don’t want an environment where hearing it no longer bothers people. White people should be uncomfortable when they hear that word. But black people should be, too.

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