Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Exploring The "Nigger" Mentality

If you're automatic reaction to the title above was thinking this post had to deal with the way Black people think; then you're not only way off-base, but you're pretty racist. Rather, this post is about you; or more to the point, this post is sadly about how the majority of this country perceives Black people.

"Party on, Garth!" "Not so much, Wayne"
Let's get on the not-so-way-back mobile
to 2005. Days after Katrina. Mike Meyers and Kanye West on the television. West says something that shocked a lot of people. Let me rephrase. West said something that was no fucking surprise to most Black people in America but flabbergasted people who have never heard it outloud before. "George Bush doesn't care about Black people". It was nothing new. Society has dismissed the sentiment for so long. The L.A. riots were in the 90's, the Black Panthers, the Civil Rights movement, all seem like a memory of a time people don't like to bring up. And besides, things are better now, right? I mean, Black people have taken the word "nigger" and made it their own! And Black comedians make us laugh, and hell, even White rappers are saying it! Hooray and Huzzah! We have grown as a culture! There's a Black President! You're welcome and America is not racist anymore!

Racist complacency has long set into the mind of America. A disgusting and bigoted perception that has plagued this nation from its inception. A Black man is treated differently because he's Black. This is an inarguable and truly sad fact that spawns across all cultures. White people assume that because Black people use the word "nigger" (which they don't, but I'll get into that later) that it's fair game. This permeates across our media and entertainment. Play Call of Duty, listen to your teenage kid spew some of the most racist shit you can possibly imagine just because he thinks it's funny, and because of the anonimity of the internet, he can get away with it. Latin cultures use term "negrito" (rough translation "little black one") as a term of endearment, but underneath the layer of "d'aww, you're so cute" stems the reality of, "d'aww why are you so dark?" In Asian cultures, mothers have scraped, scrubbed, and bleached the skins of their daughters to quite literally try to take the black off them.

This is the "Nigger" mentality. The notion that being black is somehow inherently a bad thing. That being black means you're uneducated, aggressive, and overall "less" of a human than everyone else.

But why call it the "Nigger" mentality? Why use a term that is probably the most offensive and cringe inducing word in the English language? Call it something else, you might say. That the only reason I'm using it is for shock value, you might say. Truth is, I find it apt. I find the most hateful and disgusting word in our language a perfect description for the horrid outlook people have against Black people. And it is cringe worthy, we should all cringe that this state of mind not only exists, but revels in our culture.

Racism is nothing new. Every culture has experienced it. But Black people get the honor of not only being at the exact opposite end of the color spectrum, they are also the oldest culture on the planet. Flash foward several thousand millenia, as humans moved away from the Fertile Crescent, their skin pigments changed. Not the case in Africa. A people who thrived and flourised in the original environment. One can only imagine the thoughts that a White person who returned to that mecca may have had, but I bet it went something like, "Dear God, these savages live in this heat? Look at them living in harmony with the land around them. Do they not know they can do more? Obviously they are inferior to me, they don't even believe in God! Well, say what you will about them, they seem to have strong backs."

"Ooh, this racism is killing me, inside."
Dave Chappelle did a sketch on his show a couple of years ago, where there was a White family with the last name, "Niggar".

In it, Dave explores, through comedy, how society would act with an upper class family so closely named after an offensive word. He removed the ethnic aspect of the word and all of a sudden, it became okay.

Later in the season, Dave addresses the fact that after he did the show, a couple of White kids saw Dave and quoted him the line he delivered in the sketch, "What's up, Nigga!"

Like those kids, society missed the point. African Americans in this country, through insurmountable odds, strived to overcome racial bigotry. They took a word that was used against them and adopted it as a colloquial greeting between themselves. The intent was never to make it okay for the rest of the world to start using it, but rather to lessen a blow, or rather blows, that Black people in this country suffer with on a daily basis. And it was a means of education, as well. Society never seemed to understand through verbal communication and through history that the way it treats minorities is really fucking wrong. So through media and entertainment, Black people tried to get through to the world.

Television brought us shows like "Sanford and Son", "What's Happening!!", "The Jeffersons", and "Good Times" to the living rooms of America. Shows that showcased lower class families ("The Jeffersons" being the exception, they were more middle class), and introducing America to Black families that were just trying to make it like everyone else.

"The Cosby Show" went one step beyond to show that African Americans can excel, given equal opportunity, the show did well. And America accepted Black people, as entertainers only.

In the 80's and 90's music was used as a means to communicate their plight. Groups like N.W.A and Public Enemy were pissed, and rightly so. Trying to bring to the limelight how America treats the Black community.

Again, America missed the lesson, all they got from it was some misconception that nigger (not nigga) was okay to use.

Have things changed? Yes they have. America has no shame now to treat and call a Black person a nigger to their face. Even in the media.

A Black man in silhouette on his own poster.
"Django" had an African American as a protagonist who ends up killing a bunch of overtly racist White people.

It was so over-the-top with prejudice that it made you wish death on every White person in that movie, minus the one White guy who had to help and teach the Black guy how to do it, cause god forbid he do it on his own.

And he needed that nice White man too, cause otherwise he'd be just another one of those "niggers" (Django calls, without hesitation, other slaves, "niggers") that he leaves to their own accord. Because a Black man can't teach other Black men to kill White men, that would be wrong.

We have an African American as President of the United States. And I swear, the media has called him Obama, not President Obama more than any other president before (I may be wrong on this, but I am willing to bet on it). Maybe it's too long to say President Obama, maybe I'm being oversensitive about how cavalier I see the Republican Party and a bunch of Democrats treat the President. But why does it feel that every time I hear them say "Obama" I hear, under their breaths, "that nigger"?

Trayvon Martin was recently murdered because he was Black. Jordan Davis was killed in his car after an argument. Both cases invoking the "stand your ground" law. Marissa Alexander was given a 20 year jail sentence for firing a warning shot in the air to scare off a man known for assaulting, she tried to use the same law, it didn't work for some reason in her case.

Have things changed? Can things change?

I have hope. But for now, it sickens me to no end, that our country continues to accept and act (maybe without realizing it, or realizing it but unwilling to do anything about it unless it directly affects them) like Black people are less than everyone else.