3002: Reclaiming Slurs

One of you requested that I link Ta-Nehisi Coates’s blog post arguing that white people should be willing to talk about the word “nigger” and not use childish euphemisms or periphrasis when the topic comes up, ’cause black people can tell the difference between when you’re using the word and when you’re mentioning it. Myself, I like the argument and would not shy away from the word if it were necessary, say, to read a passage from Huckleberry Finn aloud. But, as I said, I’d want to make sure my auditors trusted me to be decent about it and not to quote the word just for kicks.

The first Chris Rock video there is relevant to the issue: Rock talks about the different settings in which white people feel comfortable using the word and makes some good public/private distinctions. The second Rock video is just for fun. And hey, what does Coates mean by “I’d sooner call the coroner than call my Pops ‘Billy'”?



One thought on “3002: Reclaiming Slurs

  1. I want to draw attention to a particular section of the Coates’s blog where Andrew says, “I give it more weight than “faggot.” We were tormented and destroyed from our souls outward for centuries; but we weren’t as a class actually enslaved (although, of course, many slaves were also gay).” For the most part, I love this reading and it’s very well written, but I got too caught up in this one sentence.
    It implies that the two movements are competing. This idea can be applied to any movement (Disability included based on our readings) where there’s some need to draw a comparison to the other group’s struggles as if we’re trying to figure out which one is more important or carries “more weight.” I feel like a comparison is damaging when used this way. It’s all violating human rights and there are many ways to show that without directly saying that this struggle is harder than that one. It’s kind of a given for a lot of people that it is, but pointing it out only serves to diminish the validity of other struggles.
    Even worse to me is that Andrew uses, “we,” which leads me to understand that he is a gay male (if there was background on Andrew, I missed it). It shows (to me) that there’s a need within the community to surrender and admit that the other group “has it worse.” It should be more about solidarity and combating the same system of oppression that violates human rights, not a competition. If it were a competition of what group been historically oppressed the most, I’d guess that the Jewish community would “win” (that last sentence should absolutely not be taken seriously).

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