ROCKWALL – Is there a double standard in our country about using the N-word? Should there be?
At the end of last Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, comedian and host of Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show Larry Wilmore closed his remarks by calling Pres. Obama his… “n-word.”
“When I was a kid, I lived in a country where people couldn’t accept a black quarterback,” Wilmore said. “Now think about that. A black man was thought by his mere color not good enough to lead a football team — and now, to live in your time, Mr. President, when a black man can lead the entire free world. Words alone do me no justice. So, Mr. President, if I’m going to keep it 100: Yo, Barry, you did it, my n—-. You did it.”
And what did the President do? He laughed and shook his hand.
Now why is it permissible for a comedian to call our President the n-word and for our President to laugh about it and, yet, when a seventh grade Rockwall social studies teacher recently allowed the word to be included in a history lesson about civil rights, she was placed on administrative leave for doing so without obtaining permission first?
Why is it permissible for one and not the other?
After Wilmore dropped the n-word, Twitter blew up. Many of the tweets were questioning the apparent double standard. Why can some people say it and get away with it and others can’t?
The confusion illustrates what happens when the n-word, once hurled at African-Americans in this country and banned from polite conversation, now has a broad-based cultural acceptance in our society.
Many African-Americans – and not just the hip-hop generation – say use of the n-word serves as a form of resistance against the dominate culture’s use of it. In other words, only they have a license to use it.
However, that it is acceptable for African-Americans to use the n-word with each other while it is still considered racist for others outside the race to use it unquestionably sets up a double standard.
The notion that one ethnic group has property rights to the term is an absurdly narrow argument. The fact that African-Americans have appropriated the n-word does not negate our long history of self-hatred.
Too many of us keep the n-word alive. It also allows Americans to become numb to the use and abuse of the power this racial epithet still wields, thwarting the daily struggle that many of us undertake to try to improve race relations.
The last thing Obama’s final roasting didn’t need to end on is associating him with the n-word – even as an act of thanks and brotherly love.