Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

That N-word, again
by Rev. Irene Monroe
2018-07-25

This article shared 817 times since Wed Jul 25, 2018
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Papa John's is the latest to use the N-word and then apologize. CEO John Schnatter, known as Papa John, blurted out the N-word during a crisis communication training session over the phone—and not in the face of an African-American—he argues his use of the word doesn't constitute as a "slur."

He said, "It wasn't a slur. It was a social strategy and media planning and training and I repeated something that somebody else said and said, 'We're not going to say that…'"

Schnatter will no longer be the public face of the pizza franchise.

There is some talk now that in this political climate the use of the N-word needs to be reexamined. Perhaps we should.

Some Blacks defend the N-word. In 2002, Harvard Law professor Randall Kennedy, who wrote N***er: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word [the book title uses the actual word], said that while the word has been used to "terrorize and humiliate" African-Americans, "It's also been used as a term of endearment and a gesture of solidarity."

In 2011, it was disclosed that at the entrance of former Gov. Rick Perry's hunting camp is a rock painted in block letters with the word "Ni**erhead." In discussing the offensive racial moniker of Perry's property, talk-show host Barbara Walters ( then on TV's The View ) used the N-word, sparking a debate with then-co-host Sherri Shepherd.

"I'm saying when you say the word, I don't like it," said Shepherd, who said she has used it among African-American family and friends. "When white people say it, it brings up feelings in me."

Many Black and white comedians never get the laughs they were going for using the word. Obama's send-off at the 2016 White House correspondents' dinner ended with the N-word. Larry Wilmore, comedian and then-host of Comedy Central's The Nightly Show, in his closing remarks thanked Obama for his tenure as president said "…to live in your time, Mr. President, when a Black man can lead the entire free world. Words alone do me no justice. So, Mr. President, if I'm going to keep it 100: Yo, Barry, you did it, my n—-. You did it." And, at that moment you heard audible gasps and saw visible grimaces of shock, pain and embarrassment.

However, when the word slips from the mouths of race-conscious allies such as Bill Maher last year—the comedian and political commentator on HBO talk show Real Time with Bill Maher—a lot of shock and hurt was felt. Guest U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska invited Maher to visit Nebraska and "work in the fields with us." Maher mockingly declined: "Work in the fields? … I am a house ni**er."

Whites trip up in using the N-word. Dennis Lehane—Boston native and best-selling novelist—used the word at Emerson College's commencement last year. In talking about Boston's 1970s busing crisis, Lehane highlighted how white opponents of school desegregation shouted "ni**ers out" at protests. Twitter blew up attacking Lehane, and he apologized immediately.

Another failed teaching moment was in January 2011. The kerfuffle focused on Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known as Mark Twain, in the NewSouth Books edition of his 1885 classic Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In the original edition, the epithet is used 219 times. In an effort to rekindle interest in the Twain classic while tamping down the flame and fury the use of the word engenders, Alan Gribben—editor of the edition and an English professor at Auburn University in Alabama—replaced the word with "slave."

And, in 1998, a national controversy ensued over the April headline in the Boston Magazine profile of Henry Louis "Skip" Gates at Harvard as the recent "Head Negro In Charge" of the Black intellectual enterprise in this country. The appellation was intended to be a compliment, but the "n" doesn't stand for "negro, " and the controversy once again opened a dialogue about the N-word.

Is there a double standard here?

Shortly after Maher dropped the word, many on Twitter chimed in to defend him, saying he used a modified version, meaning it ended in an "a" rather than an "r"—and that this morphs the term into an endearment. I contend that you cannot conjugate the word, because it is firmly embedded in the lexicon of racist language that was and still is used to disparage African-Americans. Many slaveholders pronounced the word with the "a" ending, and in the 1920s many African-Americans used the "a" version as a pejorative denoting class difference.

Last year, Martha Stewart dropped the N-bomb during a taping of Martha and Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party. Stewart, still a neophyte to hip-hop culture, asked rapper Lil Yachty, "Yachty, does it upset you when Snoop says 'nigga shit?'"

The confusion, however, illustrates what happens when an epithet like the N-word—once hurled at African-Americans in this country and banned from polite conversation—now has a broad-based cultural acceptance in our society.

There are many reasons to end the use of the N-word. The fact that African-Americans have appropriated the N-word does not negate our long history of internalized self-hatred. Our culture's neo-revisionist use of the N-word makes it even harder to purge the sting of the word from the American psyche. And, our use of the N-word speaks less about our rights to free speech and more about how we as a people—both white and Black Americans—have become anesthetized to the damaging and destructive use of epithets.

What would work is a history lesson, because reclaiming racist words like the N-word does not eradicate its historical baggage and its existing fraught racial relations among us.

Instead, it keeps the hate and hurt alive. Papa John's just proved it.


This article shared 817 times since Wed Jul 25, 2018
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

VIEWPOINT Meditation on the killing of journalists 2024-04-11
- Trigger warning: I am a journalist and I read newspapers. I've been reading newspapers since I first learned to read. Newspapers were a lively part of the daily life in my family. I even wrote letters ...


Gay News

VIEWS Mike Johnson: The smiling face of Christian tyranny 2024-02-14
- Mike Johnson wants to rewrite the constitution to make the United States a Christian nation. James Michael Johnson, Republican from Louisiana's Fourth District, is the 56th speaker of the United States House of Representatives. He was ...


Gay News

VIEWS Parents, not legislators, should be making decisions about medical options for children 2024-02-06
By Jeffery M. Leving - No matter the medical issue, when it comes to kids, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said something last December that every lawmaker in the country should realize when it comes to medical decisions for children. "Were House ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Sundance items, Green Day, 'Wednesday,' Queerties, 'The Wiz' 2024-01-26
- At the Sundance Film Festival, Jodie Foster told Variety that the $1.4-billion success of Barbie helps confirm that Hollywood no longer views women directors as too much of a risk. She said, "With a big success ...


Gay News

VIEWS Is the Pope Catholic? Francis faces opposition in steps toward LGBTQ+ inclusivity 2024-01-02
- The recent change in Vatican policy allowing priests to bless same-gender couples has provoked an unprecedented backlash against Pope Francis and his openness to LGBTQ+ people—a backlash that some fear might devolve into a schism in ...


Gay News

Bring Chicago Home: Guess who's saying no again 2023-12-04
Commentary by Bob Palmer and Mark Swartz - Chicago is ushering in an era of change with a new progressive mayor with a vision to invest in communities long ignored and a significant increase in like-minded city council members. We are excited to see ...


Gay News

Pope Francis's community of transwomen 2023-11-28
- It's a rare opportunity to meet the pope. It's even rarer if you're a transgender Catholic. However, on Nov. 19, in Torvaianica, Italy, a community of transwomen, many of them sex workers, were welcomed and seated ...


Gay News

Banning the Banning of Books: Illinois and California lead the way 2023-10-26
- In June, at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation banning book bans in Illinois public libraries. This legislation, initiated by Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, passed the Illinois House and ...


Gay News

OPINION Renewing state's Invest in Kids program is investing in anti-LGBTQ+ hate 2023-10-23
- In February 2020, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield warned transgender students in the Diocese's educational system that they "may be expelled from the school" if they live their lives authentically. Lansing Christian School ...


Gay News

Gilbert Baker Foundation reacts to death of shop owner who flew the rainbow flag 2023-08-29
--From a press release - In response to the murder of Laura Ann Carleton over flying the Rainbow flag in her shop in California, the Gilbert Baker Foundation released the statement below. Facebook refused to post the statement as it did not "...meet their standards." ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT U.S. higher education under siege; freedom of inquiry and speech at risk 2023-07-03
- The Covid pandemic threw a harsh spotlight on higher education in America, exposing forces eating away at the foundations of college and university learning, calling into question the traditional purposes of such education in our post-modern, ...


Gay News

Guest essay by Florida mom Nicole Pejovich: What's Happening to Florida's Public Schools? 2023-06-19
Related video below - A queer Florida parent answers questions about recent laws, how Floridians are coping, and how you can help Books pulled from school library shelves by the dozens. All evidence of inclusivity stripped from classrooms. The politically ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT For divorced parents, transgender children's health can present tricky dilemmas 2023-06-12
- Over the last few months, issues impacting individuals who identify as transgender and non-binary are getting a lot of attention in the media and among some politicians. Sadly, because it's become a political issue; a lot ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT War in the 21st Century: mercenaries, private military companies, private armies 2023-05-20
- In 2022, $407 billion of the Pentagon budget—representing half of that year's funding —were obligated to private contractors, of which a significant number were Private Military Companies (PMCs) involved in ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINT Telling the world about my mental health disorders 2023-05-04
- Over the years, coming out as a lesbian hasn't been that hard for me—because I was always too busy hiding something else. Confessing queerness can be a breeze compared to revealing mental illness. But I decline ...


 


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.