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Scrutinizing NAACP's Burial of the N-word

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The NACCP and non-affiliates have been performing mock funerals of the n-word around the country, burying the term, its negative connotations, and condescending use for good. The most recent funeral occurred July 9, 2007, during the NAACP Detroit Convention weekend.  

The purpose and importance of these mock funerals is being questioned by individuals from various backgrounds and circuits. Skeptics believe that these mock funerals are outright ridiculous. Advocates of killing off the n-word rebut with a meditating question: Denigrating African-American women, glamorizing violence, defining an intelligent group of people with a racial slur—a term heavily drenched in ignorance and degradation, and all its many associations, is rational, sensible and intelligent? 

Playing devil’s advocate, H. Lewis Smith, Founder/CEO of the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc., openly questions the importance of the funerals, and rhetorically posed that there are more pressing issues deserving of the group’s time and attention.   Lewis’ point: In order for African Americans to rise above their current state of complacency and reach their promise, all community members, regardless of status and background, must consider the task at hand—burying the n-word—a serious issue, one of highest priority, and commit to exonerating the demeaning expression from all vocabulary banks.  

One may ask how removing the n-word from African Americans’ vocabulary is the single most important issue plaguing the community today when other highly urgent and seemingly more prevalent matters exist and manifest within every pulse of the community. Such matters include high incarceration and poverty rates; increasing healthcare concerns; rampant drug addictions; predatory lending; strong resistance to restoring voting rights to felons; epidemic homelessness; and continued poor school performances and conduct among African-American students. The answer is simple: Treat the cause, not the symptoms. These issues are merely results of the mentality rooted in African Americans’ subconscious—the n-word is a cancer-packed, direct link to African-American issues. Until African Americans improve their mind state—ridding it of the cancerous lifestyles and mentality perpetuating these negative effects, the group will not be able to progress as a whole.   

Far too many African Americans take this matter all too lightly. African Americans must stop smirking at and acting nonchalant toward this situation, and consider the seriousness of the call to action.  

Can performing mock funerals prove effective in inciting abolishment of the n-word from African Americans’ vocabulary? Unequivocally, yes, if African Americans believe these sorts of exercises can help achieve the goal! One’s mindset is the key. If an individual believes in a certain ideal, and trusts in his/her heart that the idea is valid and effective, it will prove true.  

Cognitive willpower takes form in the “Can Do” mentality: Positive thoughts yield positive outcomes. On the contrary, complacency is molded in the “Can’t” mentality: Negative thoughts lead to negative outcomes. People generally harnessing negative thoughts do not realize the extent and capacity to which they draw unfortunate situations to themselves. For these individuals, when situations do not work out to their liking or expectation, they turn the responsibility outward and blame everyone else for their ills and woes, when in reality, no one is to blame for their particular situation except them. 

For decades, the African-American’s consciousness has been submerged in a toiling, never-ending sea of self-deprivation, and ultimately, self-destruction, at their discretion. The minds of its youths were (and still are) exposed to the poison and venomous lyrics of rap music and the Steppin Fetchit antics of black comedians. Their sole ambitions were to sell their souls and the souls of their community for fame and fortune. No one cried out in protest against these “innovations” in entertainment. Rather, they either turned their heads and chose to remain ignorant or separated from the exploitations, or they bobbed their heads rhythmically to the degrading tunes and snickered boisterously at satire-filled stand-ups.  

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The racist definition of a word infused in ignorance and degradation—the n-word—was being used without impunity, in an affectionate and endearing manner. Nothing was said. Self-respect, pride, dignity and honor—intrinsic assets ancestors and civil rights leaders fought so hard to secure—were being trampled on and tossed out the window. As long as African-Americans were disrespecting and holding one another down with the derogatory “friendly reminder,” not a word was murmured.  

Now, with an effort in place to discard the diabolical n-word, and restore these invaluable, positive mindset ingredients, people are springing up from various places to protest the seriousness of the n-word and its adverse effects on the mindset. Side-line naysayers who convey skeptical and cynical attitudes toward the anti-n-word movement are simply demonstrating their “Can’t” mindset. 

To affect change, one must first arouse the people’s consciousness. Mock funerals are stirring up thoughts among people of all backgrounds and creating dialogue about mind power, the negativity the n-word manifests, and the importance of getting on board with the movement to put this idiom to rest. Although skeptics still exist, a large majority of African Americans, and people in general, are responding positively to the movement. Mock funerals are and will continue to wake people up to the fact that the non-use of this word is detrimental to a whole race’s welfare.

 In the 21st century, similar to a sleeping giant, people are slowly but surely waking up to the importance of the movement. As they realize the imperativeness and urgency in achieving the outlined goal, they reach over and try to wake others still sleeping on this mission. Analogous to blasting a radio in a sleeping person’s ear, the mock funerals serve as a shock factor to immediately and effectively open people’s eyes to the situation.  

“Woke” individuals appreciate the mock funerals and understand the significance of the mission; however, those still sleep walking (in a delirious and confused state) find this entire movement a waste of time, a ridiculous initiative to pursue, and are boiling at the notion of slaying their lil’ ole precious n-word.   

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Every journey begins with a single step. Mock funerals are the fundamental first step of a possibly long and tedious journey. As with any worthwhile mission, though, perils and obstacles are inevitable. African Americans and supporters of the anti-n-word movement will achieve the desired outcome by remaining committed to the mission and continuing to relentlessly plow forward to the goal. Looking back on the journey, the obstacles, which will make the achievement all the more endearing and glorifying, will be minute compared to the result. The West would have never been settled had pioneers valued the naysayers’ skeptical attitudes and “Can’t” mentalities. 

The anti-n-word movement is long overdue, but there is no better time than now to link arms and march for healthy mind power and intellectual freedom. No matter one’s thoughts or feelings regarding the NAACP, Jesse Jackson, or Al Sharpton, they have all elected to do the right thing by jumping aboard an already-moving train engineered by a grass-root movement.  

Petty differences must be set aside. For once, the African-American community must band up in efforts to heighten African-American values and standards, take charge of their own destiny, and stop serving as a doormat for the rest of the world. The initial step is for African Americans to eradicate the habit of defining themselves—a beautiful, intelligent, self-actualizing people—with a racist definition that stands for everything contrary to the African-American ethnic group. Underestimating the necessity of eliminating the n-word from all people’s vocabulary is sheer folly, and would be a mistake with catastrophic ramifications for all.

 

http://www.theunitedvoices.org

H. Lewis Smith is the Founder/CEO of the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc. and the author of the book Bury that Sucka, A Scandalous Love Affair With the N-word.

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