Community · ethnography · Language · observations · power · research · social observation · Sociology · trauma

I Don’t See Color

Here’s a phrase that sincerely chaps my ass. What if the police ask you to describe me? Whachugonsay?

Discovered my disgust with this statement after getting into a discussion about who can and can’t say nigger. We concluded with the thought that anyone can say anything (conditional) because this is a country that constitutionally guarantees freedom of speech. I added that saying anything means being ready and able to take the consequences of those utterances.

See, you can’t say nigger to everyone. I don’t care how you spell it, inflect it, think it’s cute or a term of endearment, you can’t say that to everyone. Some folks have a reflexive action to being called nigger. They will bust you in the mouth, with love, ’cause they ain’t having it. I think I am one of those people.

Nigger is a slur, an ethnophaulism. How’d you like it if I walked up to you and called you my Dago, my Wop, my Mick, my Chink, my Gook, my Buddhahead, my Guinea, my Spic, my Kike, (recent) my Beaner? Does it grate a little? If not, do you know someone who might not share your attitude?

It is difficult to find a slur for whites that carries the same punch as nigger. By becoming white, those ethnics who look more like the dominant group eventually became white. Hunky or honky no longer packed a punch. Even Jews thought, and think, they were white. It only takes a second to be disabused of that notion when faced with real crackers who think the kikes are out to replace them.

We are all color struck. We are overly concerned with the color of another’s skin because to be anything other than a variation of pink is to be diminished in the world. We don’t talk about slavery. We don’t talk about Jim Crow. We don’t talk about the Trail of Tears. We don’t talk about segregation, an active factor in our lives today. Why are we all color struck, especially those who come here from other countries where there may or may not be a racial history of torture and abuse? Loss of cultural and historical memory? Loss of self-awareness? Loss of our humanity? For certain, it is because we have been taught to be conscious of color, particularly for purposes of differentiation and separation.

We need to speak to one another in the way we wish to be addressed. Don’t come @ me with your nigger speak. I really will bust you in your mouth, with love, and dare you to call the police. Since you don’t see color, you won’t be able to give a credible description and I will go on my way, hoping I taught you something of value.

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