What do Stepin Fetchit; Amos & Andy; Vaudeville; Soul Plane; and the latest episode of Nas and his wife sauntering down the red carpet at the February 10 Grammy Awards—boastfully modeling black t-shirts emblazoned with the n-word—all have in common?...Buffoonery. In lieu of these continued antics, no wonder the world in general refuses to take African Americans seriously.
Blacks, from slavery until today, have internalized many negative images that white society cultivated and broadcasted about black skin and Black people. Thus, the word “n**ger” speaks to the mindset of Black people. The manipulative mind-control was established by an ideology that justified the use of deceit, exploitation, and intimidation to keep Blacks "in their place." A racist and invidious society created “n**ger”; during slave times, only that society would feed and sustain the mind-control ideology through the use of the n-word.However, the idiom no longer requires racism, or other brutal and obvious forms of conveyance, to survive. Now, enervate-minded African Americans continue to pump life into the mind-manipulative process by their affectionate and endearing use of the n-word. Nas’ performance at the Grammy’s proves this truth. His act was and is a true insult to any self-respecting person of color.
Defiant use of the incorrigible n-word should be looked upon as an abomination to the canonized memories of those who were dehumanized and subjects of genocidal conditions. The sacrifices and struggles of our ancestors should not be taken lightly. Any acceptance of this word is the same as sanctioning all transgressions against African American ascendants.
Many black comedians and entertainers, today, still use the n-word regularly in their comedy routines and lyrics. A strong argument can be made that many of our modern day black comedians and entertainers are present day minstrels—shucking, jiving and grinning in the tradition of Stepin Fetchit. At some point, these African American advocates of the word must learn to stop making spectacles of themselves in the worn-out tradition of pre-conditioned buffoonery and self-ridicule. Years back, Richard Pryor—much to his credit and re-discovery of African-American pride and dignity—repented his misdeeds of using the term, and stripped the n-word from his comedy act.
Countless offensive words exist in the English language. However, no term stands in the context of having ancestors involuntarily stripped from their home country; chained hand and foot to a narrow ledge; and forced to endure harsh, unimaginable conditions for months as they were shipped like worthless, inhuman commodities across the ocean. African-American ancestors were beaten and forced to labor without pay. In this same context of the n-word, now in present day terms, generations are subjected from birth to daily indignities—ranging from purposeless job denial and unnecessary mistreatment, to seeing others of their race murdered by both “freelance” racists and "law enforcement." These are the actions carried out against “n**gers.”
In the past, the entertainment media, from Vaudeville to television, film, and music, portrayed blacks as docile servants, happy-go-lucky idiots, and dangerous thugs. Dr. David Pilgrim, Professor of Sociology, and Dr. Phillip Middleton, Professor of Languages and Literature at Ferris State University revealed in an article entitled “N**ger and Caricatures”:
No American minority group has been caricatured as often, in as many ways, as have blacks. These caricatures combined distorted physical descriptions and negative cultural and behavior stereotypes. The Coon caricature, for example, was a tall, skinny, loose-jointed, dark-skinned male, often bald, with oversized, ruby-red lips. His clothing was either ragged and dirty or outlandishly gaudy. His slow, exaggerated gait suggested laziness. He was a pauper, lacking ambition and the skills necessary for upward social mobility. He was a buffoon. When frightened, the Coon's eyes bulged and darted. His speech was slurred, halted, and replete with malapropisms. His shrill, high-pitched voice made whites laugh. The Coon caricature dehumanized blacks, and served as a justification for social, economic, and political discrimination.
” N**ger may be viewed as an umbrella term – a way of saying that blacks have the negative characteristics of the Coon, Buck, Tom, Mammy, Sambo, Picaninny, and other anti-black caricatures. N**ger” like the caricatures it encompasses and implies, belittles blacks, and rationalizes their mistreatment. The use of the word or its variants by blacks has not significantly lessened its sting. This is not surprising. The historical relationship between European Americans and African Americans was shaped by a racial hierarchy which spanned three centuries. Anti-black attitudes, values, and behavior were normative. Historically, N**ger more than any word captured the personal antipathy and institutionalized racism directed toward blacks. It still does.
The use of the word “n**ger” by Blacks reflects the hatred outlined in the afore-mentioned articles, even when the user is unaware of the psychological forces involved. Nas’ actions at the Grammy’s are perhaps best characterized as evidence of a deep seated psychological disorder known as Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder.
“N**ger” is the ultimate expression of white racism and white superiority no matter how it is pronounced. The n-word is a mirror that reflects the transgressions of a once oppressive and malevolent society; a word that brought about death and destruction for a race of people’s ancestors should not be spoken.
Perhaps, Nas, and other entertainers and comedians, proudly identify with the term to prove to outside races the contrary to society’s previous portrayal and stereotyping of African Americans. Possibly their efforts are to show other races that even a n*gger can achieve great feats. However, with the past attached to the term and understanding the true meaning of exactly what it is to be a “n**ger,” their acceptance and continued use of the term only perpetuates, protects and romanticizes America's racist and sinister history. And as a result, this mind-manipulative process is passed down through generations of African Americans. High time has come to stop the buffoonery. The life support plug must be pulled on this word. Then, and only then, can we Bury that Sucka.