I think black people have superpowers. All of them. This will make sense, trust me.
It’s a piece all on its own, to be honest, but I have a thing about words. I’m fanatical in my belief that words have no meaning at all beyond what we ascribe to them. I shouldn’t even call it a belief, as it’s a fact. Hence why negro means something different in Spanish and English. And beyond that, I see no reason why words shouldn’t be used, so long as they’re in proper context.
The phrase “The N Word” is horseshit. You know what people are thinking, and so if one writes or speaks the word “nigger” in the proper context, that’s fine. Calling someone a nigger is horrible; telling someone, “Don’t call someone nigger” is not horrible. And there are all kinds of words like this, none which have the power of the aforementioned slur, but words for folks of all walks of life, nonetheless.
Sometimes, I don’t even know words are offensive. It’s common for white people to be called crackers. For the life of me, I assumed that was because crackers are, well, white and kinda bland. Then I heard someone say that it originates from the *crack* of the whip that slaves endured at the hands of slave-owners. I still don’t really care if someone calls me cracker, but that did put things into a new perspective.
I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life, said some really horrible shit, and mostly it’s to get a reaction. I’m an immature dick like that. But as far as I can ever recall, no matter how drunk or whatever I get, I’ve never, ever called a black person “nigger.” I would say the word nigger in front of a black person, if it was in context, even if I suspected they’d be unhappy, because I’d feel confident that I was not doing so from a place of hate, and I’m not going to self-censor myself into pretending a word doesn’t exist. As if because I said “The N Word” he and I don’t know what word was spoken in my head. Please, save your applause for later, I know, I know, what a hero.
I’m sure I’ve said racist things, some intentional, some not. But I’ve grown over the years. (I’d rather admit that then flat out lie and pretend it never happened – because fuck those people who claim they’ve never sinned.) Growing up, “gay” and “faggot” were common, and in such a way that no one gave them a second thought as to their origin and why they were a put down. Then one day, I realized that I have a cousin who is gay and she’s awesome and saying “faggot” is probably not a good habit and so, in general, I stopped. I’m sure I slip here and there, but it’s not something that’s in my regular vocabulary. Again, please, I know: I’m a saint. (Faggot is also apparently a bundle of sticks or something. Which is weird.)
But Nigger is different. Nigger gives black people superpowers.
I have no proof of this, of course, but in my mind – a mind that is so white my ancestors are literally Irish and Norwegian – if I said that to a black person, I would die. It wouldn’t matter if I had a gun and they weighed 100 lbs, they would murder me. I’m positive this is absurd, and stupid, but I can picture it, flickering like an old movie on 8mm film, the word slipping, me realizing what I’d done, and the Incredible Hulk popping out of nowhere to kill me.
I’m not even kidding about this. I really do think the word carries so much power, has such weight behind it, that to use it as an insult would give a black person that “Mom Whose Baby Is Trapped Under A Car” adrenaline dump and they’d be able to actually, physically, rip my head off my torso. And if the police showed up (even here in Chicago) they’d hear the story and say, “Yeah, you were within your rights.”
This isn’t to say that I call Hispanics “spic” or Jews “kike” (no idea what that one even means)(I don’t know where most of these slurs come from, actually) but I’d take my chances with kike before Nigger any day of the week. I’d insult a black person any other way, just as sure as the day is long: “Mother fucker” “asshole” “butt shit” whatever, I’d let them have it. But Nigger? FUCK NO.
So, to all the black people reading this (one of our target demographics, obviously), know that this is probably how white people think these days. We wander around, somewhat scared and fearful that you have superpowers. Because you do.