I just read about Whoopi Goldberg’s recent clash with Elisabeth Hasselbeck on the view over whether or not Jesse Jackson should be using the “n” word to describe fellow African-Americans. There’s more about this story here. Hasselbeck was trying to say something that appeared to be very positive by reinforcing that people shouldn’t be using that kind of language in this day in age and Whoopi stated that the word was a term of endearment among African-Americans. To both of these women, I say, “Get over it.”
For one thing, Hasselbeck attempted to assert that we all live in the same world which prompted Whoopi to lash out and say that we live in very different worlds; a world in which her own mother was not allowed to vote at one time. I would have had to lob that one back at Whoopi by saying that at one time, none of our mothers were permitted to vote and if women can’t stand united no matter what the color of their skin, then we will never have the strength to move forward any more as women than we have managed to up to this point. But that’s another argument entirely.
For another, Hasselbeck’s question, “How are we supposed to move forward if we keep using words that bring back that pain?” Well, we aren’t. We can only move forward as far as people wish to do so. We can all tell when the “n” word is being used out of hatred or racism. It’s usually fairly clear what the speaker of the word intends. I don’t use the word unless I’m talking to my sister and we are using it as a term of endearment towards one another. We are white, mind you, but we understand how it is to be used among friends. But, I would never feel comfortable saying it, even in an endearing way, to an African-American because as a white woman, it would be insensitive of me to do so. It’s similar to a man calling a woman a bitch. Or a straight person calling a gay person a queer. Doesn’t it smart more when you know that the person saying the word has no concept of what it means to be called one?
So, let’s stop whining about it and do what we know to be right by one another and stop looking for opportunities to hop on bandwagons that we don’t have tickets to ride. If you are a racist and you use these words, be prepared to be called on it. If you are an activist or some other kind of do-gooder, choose your battles wisely. It does absolutely no good to protest something that isn’t necessarily bothering the people you think you’re protecting or impressing. Mind your business.
That’s my take on things. 😉
Until next time.