karnythia: (Default)
[personal profile] karnythia
I can remember the very first time someone called me a nigger. I was 12 years old and in the 8th grade. I was walking from the gifted program at Kenwood high school in Chicago back to Kozminski, my grammar school. I wasn’t alone, there were 5 of us that walked that way every day. Two boys and three girls. All kind of nerdy, but with delusions of coolness ahead in high school. And every day these two cops stopped us, and made us late getting to our regular school. They always asked the same questions, and we always gave the same answers. This day, for some reason or another they were really dragging out the BS & one of the guys with me made a comment about them making us late every day.

One of the cops was a white male who always seemed super angry that we were coming from the advanced program, and he took Larry’s offhand comment as backtalk. Next thing you know he’s got the boys on the ground, and is talking about arresting them. Being me (I was born a smart ass know it all), I said they hadn’t committed any crimes, and that he couldn’t do that to them. His response? He shoved his hand in my face and yelled “You uppity little nigger, don’t you talk to me that way!” It was loud. Loud enough that it drew the attention of an adult in the store on the corner. He came out to see what was going on, and the cops took off.

We’d never told anyone about the daily harassment, and while we were explaining ourselves to the store’s owner he told us to go to school, and tell our principal everything. Our school was only another few blocks away, so we booked it thinking that the cops might show up again. They didn’t. In fact we never saw them again.

I’d like to say they realized the error of their ways, but I suspect that it had more to do with us telling our story, and the principal calling our parents, Operation PUSH, the local alderman, and the precinct captain. Probably in that order, and probably with a threat to involve the media. That wasn’t the last time someone called me a nigger, it wasn’t even the scariest time someone said it to me. But, it was the time I remember the most vividly, because it came from an adult that we were supposed to be able to trust.

So, when people claim that Woman is The Nigger of The World? I want them to remember that not every woman is going to be called a nigger. Trust me, if I could give that word up I would, I certainly don’t want it. But I can’t, and I refuse to pretend that what happened to me could happen to a white woman. I can’t even give a rough estimate of how many times I’ve been called a nigger. Online it happens fairly often from people I’ve pissed off & trolls. Offline, people are less willing to say it to my face, but I know it’s still getting said. I have no idea why it is so important to be able to use that word for some people, but they really want to use it. Okay. Use it.

But, be prepared for possible consequences. I don’t care if you were joking, your black friend is okay with it, you didn’t mean it the black way, or whatever other dumb shit you want to tell yourself to justify it. At best? We’ll all know you’re untrustworthy as an ally, and we’ll probably assume you’re racist. (Trust me, no one gives a shit about your intent when you’re spouting racial slurs.) At worst? Well…you should have health and dental. Really good health & dental. Racism can be expensive.

Date: 2011-10-07 11:16 am (UTC)
silverhare: drawing of a grey hare (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverhare
Nothing intelligent/coherent to say, but couldn't leave it without commenting - just that I read it. And it had an impact.

Date: 2011-10-07 11:30 am (UTC)
willow: Green Dreamsheep with spear and blood (DeeWee: OrcSheep)
From: [personal profile] willow
Whenever I see remarks on that story about the little girl who had the soda thrown at her; about how that sort of thing couldn't possibly have happened. I remember the white people I met in Florida who took the time to spit at me and my mom, through the windows of two cars waiting at a red light (theirs and ours) and howl that word at us. I say white people because it didn't happen once, or just twice or only three times. And it was my confusing introduction to how that word is meant to apply to me. If it's not the first time I was called so, it's definitely the most memorable impression of my childhood; Maybe because Florida is damn hot when you can't roll down the windows for fresh air and using the a/c uses up too much damn gas.

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