Why do you want to say it?

I was intrigued at the recent controversy surrounding Frank Kaminsky and Andrew Harrison.  During a press conference, the Kentucky team was asked about Frank Kaminsky and Andrew Harrison mumbled “f*&k that n!&&@” into what he didn’t realize was an open mic. I can honestly say, I thought that was one of the funniest things I have heard in sports in a long time.  Not necessarily what he said but everyone’s reaction to it.  First, because Dropping an f-bomb on national television somehow didn’t seem to matter at all anymore and hearing it referred to as a “racial slur”.  Let me make something perfectly clear, while there are more than a couple of “slurs” for referring to white people, that word has NEVER been one of them.  To Harrison, calling him that would be the equivalent of one of the white players on Wisconsin referring to Duke players as “dudes”. The way Harrison and many (not most) blacks grow up, that word has no racial connotation whatsoever.  It’s another way to say “guy”.  I’m not interested in talking about the whole “with an -a” vs “with an -er” debate because in all honesty, it’s very tired and played out.

What does interest me is something I heard hundreds of times during discussions and has to be one of the dumbest things I ever heard.  “Well if Kaminsky had said that, all hell would have broken loose! It’s a double standard!”  Any idiot who says it’s a double standard clearly has no idea what a double standard is.  A double standard is me letting my 15 year old have a girlfriend but telling my 13 year old daughter that I will strangle any boy I ever see talking to her.  A double standard would be me correcting one of my player’s vulgarities by telling them to “Watch your f-in mouth”.  This situation is not a double standard.  There are two types of people who use that word (in whatever form) on a regular basis.  Blacks who grew up in a setting where they were surrounded by people of their own kind and have never known the word to carry negative connotations in every day speech. And good old-fashioned racists.  People who grew up in a setting where they were surrounded by their own kind and who choose to refer to those who are different than them with separative slurs rather than traditional labels.  That is all that either of these groups know.

And guess what, that is okay.  If Blacks in neighborhoods across Oakland and Chicago or wherever want to greet their best friend with “What up my ….” It’s okay.  It’s okay if they have lost track of the animosity of that word because that is one less concern that they have to have in life.  It’s okay if they want to associate it with camaraderie and love that they feel for their fellow brother and sister in their life’s unique struggle that no one else can share.  If a hard-working good ol boy farmer in Mississippi wants to turn off the TV so he doesn’t have to watch the “……. President”, that’s okay.  At least that guy is upfront and expressing how he truly feels about Black people.  You don’t have to like it but at least respect that you know exactly where he stands.  You’re darn sure not going to change him. I would prefer that over that fake closet racism I have witnessed, any day of the week.  That’s just it, those are the only two groups of people on Earth who should be able to use that term Carte Blanc.  For anyone else, I just have one question, why do you want to say it?

What type of VIP privilege are you associating with the Blacks who use that term to make you believe that you are somehow being unfairly shut out of a benefit?  What in your life would change if you weren’t being unjustly denied your “free speech”?  There are people who honestly say, why can’t I say it if they can say it?  That would be like me having my students’ parents fill out a survey asking what the worst thing they ever said to their kid was and then justify using that term because they had used it.  “Yeah, I called your son a spoiled little a-hole but he said you called him that last week so….”  That rationalization will  never hold water.  Does that mean someone can say filthy things to you spouse if you have ever done it?  Can someone call your sister a b*&%h because you did when you were teenagers?  A precedent based on a relationship does not become universally accepted.  Don’t look for that quote anywhere because I just made it up.  No, you don’t have a right to say it nor should you want to say it.  But rappers….. Are you a rapper or is that music you despise?  But in the inner-city…. Do you live in the inner-city or do you avoid certain areas like the bird flu. But my friend Jamaal… Is Jamaal Black? Does Jamaal say it because he grew up where that word is just another subject pronoun?

It’s funny how people flock to debate that word but allow the term “queer” to be thrown around in the gay community as a positive.  Back when I was growing up, people used queer as an insult but as soon as the gay community embraced the word, it was all good.  Same with the b-word for women.  Now women are putting it in the title of songs and albums (not just rappers) and it means empowered. Now that’s a double standard. I have white guys who jokingly say all the time, “Oh I can’t dance, I’m just a white boy” or “I can’t hoop, I play golf, I’m a white boy”.  Guess what, I can count the number of times on one hand I have heard the term cracker used to insult a white person to his face.  I can name 20 different incidents where I heard “What’d you just say, white boy!?” or “I’m going to kill you, white boy?!” and not once was white boy used by a person of color in a positive way. So why is it that awkward boat-shoe wearing skaters and preppies can take that derogatory term and turn it into an innocent form of self-depricating humor and it is okay?

But what about the power behind the word?  That’s just it, power is a very relative term.  I love cinnamon and brown sugar pop tarts.  I love my family.  If you think those two words carry the same meaning in those situations, you’re a special kind of idiot.  There are those that say NO ONE should be able to say it.  Well guess what, I believe that NO ONE should be able to smoke but it’s not against the law so who am I to have the audacity to suggest that how I feel about something should apply to everyone.  It is a word that can exert differing levels of power based on how it is used.  Much like a nuclear weapon can be used to destroy an enemy or impose your will by intimidation.  Not sure why so many people want access to the red button of the word just because they can’t get everyone to stop using it.