Saturday, July 4, 2009

The White Man and the N-Word

By Brian Polk

The white man is angry. Somewhere along the line of historical and cultural evolution he lost profound rights and entitlements. No longer can he discriminate based on race, gender, or sexual orientation in the workplace. No longer can he preserve separate but equal restroom facilities. And worst of all, no longer can he use the n-word, despite its ubiquity in rap lyrics, stand-up comedy and popular sketch shows on Comedy Central. Oh white man, whatever will you do in such an unfair world?

So Fox News-viewers and right wing talk show hosts just can’t seem to fathom why they, as white men, don’t get to spout off hate-filled diatribes whenever they get the urge to do so, which I can imagine is quite often. These right-wingers claim that since the n-word is open game for African Americans, it should be open to bigoted white folks as well. After all, they’re only trying to create a fair and balanced society, right? They must have the noblest notions of equality in mind when they promote this issue, don’t you think?

I have to say, I have my doubts about their intentions. To me this issue isn’t about leveling the playing field, or granting equal opportunity for all; it’s more about a bunch of old white guys finding it increasingly difficult to hide their prejudice in a society of burgeoning tolerance. They’re tired of feigning open-mindedness so they yearn for the good old days when they could be much more public about their racism. In other words, they’re ideas and attitudes are becoming extinct, and boy are they pissed about it.

Also, I don’t think it’s unfair for edgy pop cultural shows like Chappelle Show or hip hop albums like Straight Outta Compton to make gratuitous use of the n-word. White people may have invented that word, but the black folks took it back. (Kind of like what the gay queero did with the words "gay" and "queero.") It is no longer a part of the dominant race's vocabulary. Whitey wins some and loses some, right? (Okay, mostly wins some.) But the white man lost this one, and I say good riddance.

But that's because I have never even considered using the n-word. And not saying it is no big deal really. It’s not like it was hard for me not to utter hate-filled remarks about an entire race of people. I made no concerted effort not to be an racist jerk. But there are still white guys that want so desperately to use say those words. Oh they want it so bad! But I suppose that’s really a personal problem. Socially accepted racism is going the way of the dinosaur, and only a real douche-arino would feel bad about that.

And no matter what anyone says, this is not a first amendment issue. No one is going to jail for being a backwards redneck. Some ignorant white guy may have a hard time finding a job because his views don't mesh well with those of open-minded folks, but that has nothing to do with the constitution (and everything to do with with the fact that no one wants to work with an asshole).

At some point in his life, the white man—and every human of every race, nationality, etc.—would surely benefit by realizing that it’s okay not to be racist. Some rights just aren’t worth having.

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