There’s no doubt that I’m getting older. In the mornings, I often find myself looking in the mirror at different angles, hoping to catch a glimpse of someone who looks a little thinner and a little less bald. It seems to take a bit longer to find that flattering angle with each passing day.
My girlfriend can comment on my weight and hairline along with my parents, sister, and a couple of close friends. There are certain remarks these people can make to me simply because of who they are – people I consider to be family. Their remarks may make me uncomfortable, but they don’t leave me wounded. I know they aren’t trying to hurt me personally, and despite their comments, they love and care about me unconditionally. Certain things can be said within a family that can’t be stated by someone outside of the family. After all, I can talk about my momma, but you sure as hell better not talk about my momma.
I can’t use the N-word, and if you aren’t black, you sure as hell better not use it either. I am not part of the black history, struggle, and family. Over the past several weeks, after the story about Paula Deen spread across the media like wildfire, I was shocked at how many white people complained about what they perceived as a double standard. Some examples include:
“Paula Deen can’t use the N-word…BUT rap musicians use it daily and there’s no big issue over it. Sounds like a double standard to me.”
“Oh please, blacks use the N-word more than anyone else. Turn off the food network refuse to watch or pay for the channel. No reason for Paula to beg anyone for forgiveness because there is still freedom of speech. I hear no black people apologizing for calling white people crackers.”
Black people using the N-word is not a double standard.
Tim Wise, one of our country’s leading anti-racist writers and speakers, puts it simply: “History has been a double standard, so (white people) get the hell over it.” The history of the N-word from the mouths of white people isn’t very confusing; it’s a clear history full of racism, hate, and deprivation. It’s a word that was used to oppress the black culture. It’s a word that was spoken from the lips of whites as they lynched innocent black men in an attempt to intimidate and control black people. Who cares if you didn’t personally contribute to the oppression of black people? That doesn’t make you part of the family that suffered.
There is a history to the N-word, and if black people want to use it, history has more than afforded them the right to have the conversation of when, how, and if the word should be used. To the people screaming “double standard,” you aren’t part of that family, so you don’t get to make the family rules.