Chamblee54

About That Ta-Nehisi Coates Video

Posted in Library of Congress, Race, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on November 12, 2017


Once upon a time, cigarettes were advertised on television. One new brand was a cigarette for women, Virginia Slims. The ability to kill yourself with tobacco was presented as being a privilege. Some wondered why women would want to take up this filthy habit. Today, African Americans have the privilege of using the n-word. What a deal. A nasty word, which degrades both the speaker, and the spoken of. Why would anyone want to use that word?

If you don’t have anything good to say, you can talk about the n-word. This *trigger* word is an aphrodisiac for the american body politic. Recently Ta-Nehisi Coates performed in a video, Ta-Nehisi Coates on words that don’t belong to everyone There is much praise for this entertainment, like this: @SneakerWonk #TaNehisiCoates has an incredibly clear #explanation for why #whitepeople shouldnt use the #nword. PG will have a few paragraphs about this production later.

PG has written about racism, anti-racism, and racial attitudes on many occasions. People get angry, and call PG rude names. He must be doing something right. Later, there was a double feature about James Baldwin. In the first half, Mr. Baldwin expresses a few opinions about that word. In the second half, PG substituted racist for the magic word, with interesting results.

One item that keeps coming up is speculation about who invented the n-word. Negro means black in Spanish, and is derived from a latin word. The Oxford English Dictionary has some usages going back to 1577. “1577 E. Hellowes tr. A. de Guevara Familiar Epist. (new ed.) 389 The Massagetes bordering vpon the Indians, and the Nigers of Aethiop [Sp. los negros en Ethiopia], bearing witnesse. ~ 1584 R. Scot Discouerie Witchcraft vii. xv. 153 A skin like a Niger. ~ 1608 A. Marlowe Let. 22 June in E. India Co. Factory Rec. (1896) I. 10 The King and People [of ‘Serro Leona’] N$$$$$$, simple and harmless.

The TNC video is based on the concept that white people want to use the magic word, but should not. This assumes a great deal. Chamblee54 published a piece about the n word, that spelled out why he does not like to use this noun/verb/adjective/adverb/interjection. Here are four reasons for a white person to refrain from saying america’s favorite dirty word.

1- The “N word” hurts people’s feelings. PG has known many fine Black people. He does not want to say anything that will hurt these people. 2- Being heard saying the “N word” can cause all sorts of problems. This can include physical retribution, loss of employment, lawsuits, and having to listen to enough loud angry words to make you wish you had never learned how to talk. 3- It is not a fair fight. There is no equivalent phrase for a Black Person to say to a White person. Why give that power to another group of people … to turn you into a mass of incoherent rage, just for hearing a six letter word. The closest thing is “Cracker”, which PG only recently found out was an insult. There used to be a minor league baseball team, the Atlanta Crackers. 4- The use of the “N word” demeans the user. When you say an insulting word about another human being, you make yourself look bad. For a Black person, using the “N word” degrades them as the object, as well as the speaker. Why would a person would want to do that?


So there is this video, Ta-Nehisi Coates on words that don’t belong to everyone It is being praised to high heaven. PG has some issues with this entertainment. The transcript is from vox, Ta-Nehisi Coates has an incredibly clear explanation for why white people shouldn’t use the n-word.

TNC gave an interview once, The Playboy Interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates. “The n$$$$$ thing? I understand if you’re black and you say, “Man, I had white people call me this shit all my life. They called me this shit when they hit me upside the head, and I don’t want to hear it.” I understand that. But that ain’t everybody’s experience. I’ve never had a white person call me a n$$$$$. I had somebody call me le négre here in France, but I was 38 years old and I couldn’t have cared less. It didn’t mean anything. So not all of us come out of that experience.”

The monolog starts off with a discussion about how some words are appropriate for some people to use, but others should not say them. “My wife, with her girl friend, will use the word bitch. I do not join in. You know what I’m saying? I don’t do that. I don’t do that. And perhaps more importantly, I don’t have a desire to do it.” The question arises: is his wife a four legged dog? Unless she is, then the b word does not apply to her.

“Coates pointed to another example — of a white friend who used to have a cabin in upstate New York that he called “the white trash cabin.” “I would never refer to that cabin” in that way. I would never tell him, ‘I’m coming to your white trash cabin.’” Of course, a person with an upstate cabin is likely to be far removed from the trailer park. He is using *white trash* with irony, and would not be the least offended if TNC called it “the white trash cabin.”

“The question one must ask is why so many white people have difficulty extending things that are basic laws of how human beings interact to black people.” (Is TNC saying that black people are not human beings?) … “When you’re white in this country, you’re taught that everything belongs to you. You think you have a right to everything. … You’re conditioned this way. It’s not because your hair is a texture or your skin is light. It’s the fact that the laws and the culture tell you this. You have a right to go where you want to go, do what you want to do, be however — and people just got to accommodate themselves to you.”

At this point, PG turned off the video in anger. He has never been taught that everything belongs to him. Nobody that PG knows been taught that. PG does not know anyone who teaches that message. This is a lie. It makes PG not want to believe anything else that TNC says. Maybe there is some privilege/culture mumbo jumbo that explains this concept, but PG is not buying it.

Lets go back a minute to the white trash cabin. TNC does not want to use this phrase. And yet, he feels entitled to make a sweeping generalization like “When you’re white in this country, you’re taught that everything belongs to you.” It is wrong to say white trash, but ok to slander white people.

“So here comes this word that you feel like you invented, And now somebody will tell you how to use the word that you invented. ‘Why can’t I use it? Everyone else gets to use it. You know what? That’s racism that I don’t get to use it. You know, that’s racist against me. You know, I have to inconvenience myself and hear this song and I can’t sing along. How come I can’t sing along?’”

“The experience of being a hip-hop fan and not being able to use the word ‘ni**er’ is actually very, very insightful.” To begin with, why do you assume that PG is a hip hop fan? Many white people think hip hop is garbage. And so, if you are forced to listen to music that you don’t like, how does that make you want to use a word that degrades the user? The logic of TNC is falling apart faster than the Falcons pass defense in the Super Bowl.

“It will give you just a little peek into the world of what it means to be black. Because to be black is to walk through the world and watch people doing things that you cannot do, that you can’t join in and do. So I think there’s actually a lot to be learned from refraining.” If you are in the mood to get yelled at for a half hour, you can ask someone about “things that you cannot do, that you can’t join in and do.” There might be some. Of course, if you go along with the rhetoric so far, you will probably believe what you hear. You might even understand why not using a nasty word will give you “a little peek into the world of what it means to be black.” As for PG, he seriously doubts this. He is not someone who says that this video “perfectly expressed every thought I had on the subject.”

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. The photographer was Dorothea Lange.

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