June 7, 2019

"While singing along to a rap song in Kloey’s car, Grace, who is white, used a hateful racial slur for what she said was the very first time."

"Kloey, also white, posted the photo on Snapchat to commemorate the occasion, spelling out the slur in the caption.... Kloey’s post helped set off a violent clash the following Monday that involved students, teachers and police officers. The scuffle ended with a black 16-year-old girl being tackled and arrested. That prompted the school’s handful of black students to demand that the school take on its culture of racism. Their efforts led to messy, uncomfortable conversations that would have seemed impossible not long ago. Sitting in a Mexican cafe three months after the unrest, Kloey struggled to explain why she had felt so comfortable using the racial slur. Maybe it was because she had a relative who would sometimes use the word when talking about black people and then laugh, she said, so it did not seem meanspirited. Perhaps it was ignorance or selfishness, she said. 'I think it comes from a place of racism,' said Abang, the girl who was tackled and arrested, recalling that she had told Kloey back in middle school not to say the word, but that she had continued to say it anyway.... To make matters worse, after Kloey’s post had gone viral, two more Snapchat posts by other white students, both using the same offensive racial slur, began to circulate that day. One was from a white student who posted a selfie flashing his middle finger, with a caption that accused Owatonna’s black students of 'playing the black card.'"

From "Few Talked About Race at This School. Then a Student Posted a Racist Slur./When white students at a Minnesota school posted a slur to Snapchat, black classmates demanded action. Their efforts led to uncomfortable conversations about race" (NYT).

136 comments:

David Begley said...

The lyrics of rap songs are the problem. The music world and popular culture needs a revival of the Motown sound. What if this girl was singing along to “Love Child” by the Supremes?

Sharc 65 said...

So she had the temerity to sing along? Which rap song?

Nobody said...

IIn another fifty years, whistling a tune written by a black man will be a racist act of appropriation and whistling a tune by a white man will be an act of oppression. Because, you know, all of the other problems will have been solved.

Ann Althouse said...

I remember many an innocent child getting hoodwinked into saying the n-word by the counting-out rhyme "Eeny meeny miney moe." Was it a "hateful racial slur" when we said it? Was it full of hate when we thought it went along with nonsense words like "miney" and "moe"? The first time I heard it was a bad word, it was a complete surprise. One of the other kids said, "You shouldn't say that word because colored people don't like it." I accepted the push back and switched to the alternative form of the rhyme, with "tiger," but I had no idea why "colored people" (sorry, that was the supposedly polite phrase way back then) had a special problem with a word, but having heard it that there were some people who didn't like it, I didn't need to know why. I would never say it again.

Birkel said...

I think she said it because she was faithful reciting the song's lyrics.

Ann Althouse said...

I should add that I grew up in an environment where I never once heard anyone actually use the n-word — not as an insult, not in discussing people behind their back, not ever — other than in that counting-out rhyme (back in the 1950s). And, in fact, I have never been around a single person who used the word in the hateful manner. I've only heard it in movies and on TV. I assume everyone is at least a little bit racist, but I've never, in person, heard it expressed with the much-talked-about word.

Amadeus 48 said...

Yeah. I remember the last time I said it. It was 1990 and I was quoting someone else. The reaction was so awkward--embarrassed silence--that I resolved internally never to say it again. I sometimes wonder what the people involved in that conversation think of me. Probably something like "What an idiot!"

Birkel said...

Controlling speech and thought seems a bad idea.
I am not a Green Grocer.

2+2=4

No amount of torture will convince me otherwise.

TreeJoe said...

Words have meaning people ascribe to them. So it’s fine for a culture to revile a word over time.

But if the word is not reviled in the song, and some people can say the word and it’s ok but others cannot, and when a non-OK person says it they are described as hateful and racist...

Then we are no longer talking about the meaning of the word. We are talking about societal discrimination and prejudiced thought about who someone is based not on their actions but in their appearances.

Ann Althouse said...

"It was 1990..."

There was a period, maybe in the 80s, maybe the 70s, when it seemed that the solution was to neutralize the word by depriving it of its shock power. I think some comedians worked that idea for a while. Lenny Bruce may have started it.

We Baby Boomers, when we were young, had this idea that older people were "uptight" and that we could all be liberated by being free and open and unafraid. In this naive enthusiasm, no words should be taboo. But that went out of style. You got the memo late.

Amadeus 48 said...

On the other hand, I grew up reading the unexpurgated Huckleberry Finn. Organic Theater had a huge hit with their original dialogue "Huckleberry Finn" at the Hull House Theater in the 1970s.

Things have changed.

Marcus said...

For a wordsmith, the Hostess is embarrassing:
"I assume everyone is at least a little bit racist..."

The correct usage is "prejudiced".

Racism can result in prejudice, but prejudice doesn't mean racism. And don't bother pulling out your many dictionaries that have changed the meaning of words. "Racism" as a word was rarely used in the 60s. It only became popular as a weapon.

To equate "racism" with everyone is simply white guilt. Your assumption is wrong. One of the many problems with liberals..

THEOLDMAN

EDH said...

I assume everyone is at least a little bit racist...

Without any sense of irony or hypocrisy, isn't the prevailing "non-racist" ideology that only people of certain races can be racist?

rehajm said...

demand that the school take on

I don't know what the verb means.

Amadeus 48 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crazy Jane said...

I'm confused. Is it racist to listen to rap music or attend concerts where that word is used? Or is it racist to avoid such music?



rehajm said...

I have a spouse who until recently didn't know brazil nuts shouldn't be called that.

Amadeus 48 said...

"You got the memo late."

Yup.

Shouting Thomas said...

I'd like to chip in on this, but opposing identity politics is just as much a waste of time as advocating identity politics.

It's worthless bullshit and I do my best to keep it out of my life.

rhhardin said...

The word is neutralized. What's not neutralized is idiot mobs.

Kevin said...

but I had no idea why "colored people" (sorry, that was the supposedly polite phrase way back then)

Still works for the NAACP.

Are we to use the initials but never utter what they represent?

Is that Progressive?

rhhardin said...

Indian slurs are better. Hey wampum-nose. Hey turquoise-tits.

Nobody said...

Doesn’t a wordsmith create new words? Who was the last great wordsmith? George Orwell? Lewis Carroll?

I prefer "applied philology" for some of what Althouse does. But then again, I prefer “peckish” to “hangry.”

Kevin said...

I assume everyone is at least a little bit racist, but I've never, in person, heard it expressed with the much-talked-about word.

The current style is to say you have a distant uncle with a hate-filled heart but you were immediately appalled and never spoke to him again.

It’s always an uncle, never a woman or immediate family member.

That keeps the idea that racism is all around us alive, yet not so close we, ourselves, are suspect.

rehajm said...

isn't the prevailing "non-racist" ideology that only people of certain races can be racist?

To be more precise, the ideology is people of certain races cannot be racist.

Humperdink said...

In a country where there is racism under every rock and fallen tree, how we did we ever a elect a colored person .... er ... black man .. er .... minority .... er ... person of color as president. Must be "absent of color" guilt.

Amadeus 48 said...

I got a real jolt when I started to watch Blazing Saddles (1974) again last year. I had forgotten what the dialogue was like. It was an example of the phenomenon Althouse refers to above at 6:17.

Quentin Tarantino was going for language shock value in Pulp Fiction (1994), particularly in the section called "The Bonnie Situation". It was a real throwback to the 1970s--and it was pulp fiction after all.

Kevin said...

I'm confused. Is it racist to listen to rap music or attend concerts where that word is used? Or is it racist to avoid such music?

You’re confused because you think it’s your actions rather than your skin color which makes you racist.

rhhardin said...

Asians don't complain about bad words. They have a high IQ. Complaining indicates a low IQ.

rhhardin said...

Blacks are the foot soldiers of taking offense.

Nobody said...

You an see my type mired to our torso at La Brea while our arms are making fists cursing at the clouds.

rhhardin said...

You can't be a racist if you're white.

rhhardin said...

If I were blacks, I would reconsider the impression left by complaining about a word. It's not positive.

rhhardin said...

The PC view is that whites have to pretend to be sympathetic. Talking down to children.

Kevin said...

How long until “people of color” becomes offensive?

It will be replaced by something like “colorful people”, better to point out the colorless are bland and lacking.

Amadeus 48 said...

Nobody--"You [c]an see my type mired to our torso at La Brea while our arms are making fists cursing at the clouds."

Now I have to get that picture out of my head.

rhhardin said...

Hey shit-for-brains perhaps can be substituted.

Slip said...

Silly nonsense. Next.

rhhardin said...

Show the fly the way out of the fly bottle.

rhhardin said...

The fly is not reasoning well just now. A man buzzes at its ears. This is enough to render it incapable of good advice. If I would have it find truth, I should chase away this animal which holds its reason in check and disquiets that intelligence which governs kingdoms.

Lautreamont

rhhardin said...

In short, the problem is PC. It changes the reward structure apparent to idiots. You get mobs.

Sebastian said...

"I've never, in person, heard it expressed with the much-talked-about word"

Hardly anyone has. But its usefulness to progs is inversely related to its actual use. Useful as a tool in the culture war, to shame liberal whites who "assume," as Althouse does, that everyone is a little bit racist, so they deserve it.

rhhardin said...

The give-them-sympathy crowd maintains the reward structure and traps the idiots in their idiot state. You get into life by doing something for somebody else, not by complaining about somebody elses.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Play them rap songs LOUD AND PROUD.
(Just don't sing along.)

rhhardin said...

Blacks and women are the chief idiot mobs, but in the latter case it's actually built in in the complaining instinct. It's a form of bonding.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

"[For more coverage of race, sign up here to have our Race/Related newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox.]"

Thanks, NYT. How thoughtful of you.

rhhardin said...

American Indians have a lower IQ than whites but you don't notice it if they move off the reservation and assimilate. It's just part of the natural spread of IQ, no big deal. Everybody goes on good character then. No identity politics. Just American.

traditionalguy said...

It's those dam racist Yankees expressing themselves again. We need mandatory busing from the North to the South so the Yankees can get their over aversion to black people.

Lyssa said...

Althouse said “We Baby Boomers, when we were young, had this idea that older people were "uptight" and that we could all be liberated by being free and open and unafraid. In this naive enthusiasm, no words should be taboo.”

I’ve never had any interest in rap, but I’ve always liked the song “Colored Spade” from Hair, which uses that idea. Plus, it’s really catchy. BTW, that’s definitely an insult that I’m generally aware exists (exhisted?), but I have certainly never heard in the wild.

Laslo Spatula said...

Below the headline the NYT helpfully offers: "[For more coverage of race, sign up here to have our Race/Related newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox.]".

The week, in NYT newsletters:

Day One -- Race: 'Is a white male eating watermelon in public a micro-aggression, or does it mean something more?'
Day Two -- Climate Change: 'How restricting air-conditioner usage in the Midwest can offset your plane trip to Paris.'
Day Three -- Women's Equality:'How unemployed women experience the pay gap.'
Day Four -- Sexual Politics: 'It's not just about cake: Wisconsin Candy Manufacturer protested for fudge-packing insensitivity.'
Day Five -- Gender Issues:'How your unborn baby is telling you about its Gender Dysphoria. And why it's not a baby but a clump of cells.'
Day Six -- Arts and Culture: 'How painters in Trump's America cope with using the color orange.'
Day Seven -- 'Tips for today's Sunday Crossword Puzzle: 'The answer to 6-down is Robert E. Lee, and why you are a bad person for knowing that.'

I am Laslo.

whitney said...

My grandmother used the word once when I was visiting her and I remember being shocked at the time. I was in high school so it was the mid 80s and we were having mayhaw jelly and she said "when I was a girl, the n...s would take the boat down the river and knock the mayhaws off the trees." Never forgotten that, the only time I've ever heard anyone actually say it. And even though I think it's wrong to have banned words I'm so well programmed that I can't even type it out

Slip said...

I cannot believe "have never been around a single person who used the word in the hateful manner".

Birches said...

Hmmm. Maybe if kids keep hearing the word in popular culture, they're inclined to use it, no?

Such stupidity.

Automatic_Wing said...

What a weird and stupid society we live in. Lol.

pious agnostic said...

I learned it at "spider" not "tiger" but never with the n-word. Kid culture (which I define as stuff that kids learn almost exclusively from other children) had dropped it by 1966 in Southern Ohio. When I was older, I moved to Florida, at an age when eeny-meeny-miny-mo didn't come up in our games. I was shocked (SHOCKED!) to learn as a young adult that the rhyme was different any place else.

I won't say I never encountered such hateful language growing up, but it was rare, and our family didn't associate with those sorts of people.

Roger Sweeny said...

There was a period, maybe in the 80s, maybe the 70s, when it seemed that the solution was to neutralize the word by depriving it of its shock power. I think some comedians worked that idea for a while. Lenny Bruce may have started it.

Yeah, he had a routine where he'd repeat the word over and over to show that it wasn't magic. Often began, "Are there any niggers here tonight? Any spics? Any kikes? ..."

Of course, comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory titled his autobiography, Nigger.

And there's John Lennon's women's liberation song, "Woman is the Nigger of the World."

Ann Althouse said...

"Doesn’t a wordsmith create new words? Who was the last great wordsmith? George Orwell? Lewis Carroll?"

Anthony Burgess ought to be at least a nominee for "Clockwork Orange."

Ann Althouse said...

Look at all the words in the "Clockwork Orange" appendix.

Ann Althouse said...

"The current style is to say you have a distant uncle with a hate-filled heart but you were immediately appalled and never spoke to him again."

In the 80s, there was an emerging "We're all sinners" approach. I thought that's where we would go. The current denial of any taint of toxin is, ironically, a new iteration of the old idea of colorblindness. In the early 70s, it seemed possible to get to colorblindness, but the elite decided to make that idea retrograde, so it's poetic justice for the idea come back into fashion (albeit unnoticed).

stlcdr said...

Blogger Ann Althouse said...
...
There was a period, maybe in the 80s, maybe the 70s, when it seemed that the solution was to neutralize the word by depriving it of its shock power....


It's a shame this didn't work. I also remember, at that time, words and phrases were used, particularly by black people with a chip on their shoulder, to try and offend white people. Cracker for example. Didn't work.

There's a phrase - or there was - in the UK: "don't get your knickers in a twist".

I used that phrase when an angry, uptight, black guy was getting in my face because my car was parked too close to his. He became extremely confrontational, and got in my face with his (as I recall, very fat wife) egging him on. I didn't know why.

Later I realized that he had misheard knickers for something else. I now know that this word has power over black people.

iowan2 said...

I am tasked with admitting that in rural Iowa the "word" did come up in conversation. Memories from the early 60's are fuzzy, but I remember it originating from the elders. Not my parents, but my grandparents generation. My great aunts and uncles. Understand that in the early 60's it was more common to see a Bald Eagle than a Negro, and Eagles were very rare back then, making a recovery in numbers, even though DDT was still in use. The reality of the situation was, the culture of that time and geography spent no time sussing out the race relations debate. Instead the culture treated all persons, regardless of station in life as equal. Race carrying no more weight than any other variable. That was the example I saw my elders practice on a daily basis.

susan.h said...

John Lennon singing Woman is the [N-word] of the World on the Dick Cavett show is something that would never happen today.

iowan2 said...

Memories are coming back, slowly. My Uncle, was from Muskegon Michigan. A Truck driver that ran routes from Detroit, Chicago, etc. I think he was the one I first heard, "if they don't want to be treated like ----don't act like ----" My Uncle would come help put in and take out the crops for a couple weeks at a time. His experiences were of a daily basis, and faulted the behavior, not the race.

Fernandistein said...

Diversity is our Strength.

But that one sentence should be:

"That prompted the school’s handful of black students to demand that the school take on their culture of racism" since they're the racists who think white people shouldn't be allowed to say what black people say all the time.

Robert Cook said...

"In an interview, Grace said she felt her use of the slur in the song did not come from a racist place. She suspected that she had said it because she had heard white classmates say it so regularly that it had become normal to her."

Well, if so many of her white classmates are using the slur regularly, that indicates a place of racism.

Fernandistein said...

"Another 90 trend charts showing the New York Times’ usage of terms from 1970-2018 (midpoint is mid-1990s) from David Rozado and his new Media-Analytics website"

It's funny how the NYT is recently cranking out articles on the woke buzzwords, "whiteness", "non-binary", etc etc take your pick.

Phil 314 said...

Professor, don’t be such a Peckerwood!

Gahrie said...

What do you expect from a generation who hears the word every damn day hundreds of times in the music they listen to?

I have debates every year with my Black students when they inform me that it is just fine for them and Black artists to use the word, and often even other minorities, but White people can't. Utter bullshit...it's just another way of trying to claim unearned power over other people. Witness the whole "people of color" versus "colored people" argument.

It's either OK for everyone to use the word, or it's not OK for anyone to.

Owen said...

Amadeus @ 6:18: “...Huckleberry Finn...”. Totally agree. The passage where Huck (disguised as Tom) meets Aunt Sally and describes his narrow escape from a boiler explosion on the steamboat, was priceless; perhaps the quintessence of the whole book, which I see as many things, as sprawling as the river that carries the story onward; but chiefly the book is an argument against slavery, racism, bigotry. Twain’s use of the N word there is incredibly powerful. No euphemism could convey his point.

Aunt Sally (reacting to Huck’s story of the boiler explosion): “Oh my! Was anyone hurt?”
Huck: “No’m. Killed a N—.”

The fact that the grievance-hustlers have convinced the cowards and moral idiots to banish the book is to me proof —as if any were needed— that the culture is now in thrall to Progressives who care nothing for meaning, only for power.

Gahrie said...

Well, if so many of her white classmates are using the slur regularly, that indicates a place of racism.

Or maybe it indicates that they listen to a lot of rap music and watch movies with Black characters who use the word of a regular basis and so they think it is normal to do so?

I'll start believing the outrage when they start going after Snoop for using the word.

iowan2 said...

I also was a youngster that grow up with Earl Butz as my Sec. of Agriculture.
Google the Joke that ended his service to the Nation.

Roger Sweeny said...

And, of course, Chris Rock's "Niggers v. Black People" routine, which he won't do anymore cause he feels it made white people think they could say the word, too.

rhhardin said...

Mobs depend on adminstrator reaction. No reaction, no power.

rhhardin said...

The trouble with good character is that you can't control it. No mob forms around it.

rhhardin said...

Idiocy is the way to go.

Gahrie said...

Still works for the NAACP.

And the United Negro College Fund.

Mark said...

I got a real jolt when I started to watch Blazing Saddles (1974) again last year. I had forgotten what the dialogue was like.

Written by Richard Pryor.

Robert Cook said...

"I remember many an innocent child getting hoodwinked into saying the n-word by the counting-out rhyme 'Eeny meeny miney moe.' Was it a 'hateful racial slur' when we said it? Was it full of hate when we thought it went along with nonsense words like 'miney' and 'moe'? The first time I heard it was a bad word, it was a complete surprise. One of the other kids said, 'You shouldn't say that word because colored people don't like it.' I accepted the push back and switched to the alternative form of the rhyme, with 'tiger,' but I had no idea why 'colored people' (sorry, that was the supposedly polite phrase way back then) had a special problem with a word, but having heard it that there were some people who didn't like it, I didn't need to know why. I would never say it again."

My family moved from Southern Indiana (Evansville) to Jacksonville, FL in October 1963, the month of my eighth birthday, two months after Martin Luther King's speech at the National Mall in Washington D.D, and one month before JFK's assassination. I was completely unconscious of racism. However, my parents, (and I conclude this in retrospect), aware of the racist attitudes we would probably be exposed to in the South, especially at such a fraught time, emphasized to my brothers and me that we should never use the common slur for Negro. They said it was a very bad word. As a child, I didn't process their stressing this to us in a logical manner, I didn't understand the concept that the word was an insult that would hurt others' feelings; I just internalized it as a forbidden word that should never be spoken.

I never have used the word, though I have uttered it in private conversations about the word and about racism, and even in such contexts, I find it difficult to say it. It's status as a forbidden word was burned into my brain and I still feel that taboo around the word in a sub-rational way.

(And yes, I did encounter casual and frequent use of the word among some of my new classmates, though there were more who I never heard use the word. I had never heard the word in Indiana...odd, given the state's history as a stronghold of the KKK.)

wendybar said...

if it is that offensive, it shouldn't be in the song to begin with. This is a really pathetic attempt to make everybody not of color a RACIST.

William said...

I had a family member whose son got clobbered during a mugging. She liked to pause for dramatic effect and use the n-word to describe his assailants. But that was years ago. She's changed. Just for one thing, she's dead now, and there's a new generation.

SeanF said...

Nobody: Doesn’t a wordsmith create new words?

I don't think so. An ironsmith is someone who works with iron - they take iron and make things out of it, but they don't make iron.

So a wordsmith would be someone who works with words, makes things out of words, but not (necessarily) someone who makes words.

Gahrie said...

Richard Pryor:

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=richard+pryor+I%27m+not+a+nigger&view=detail&mid=7E758A13A822FF6B2F1F7E758A13A822FF6B2F1F&FORM=VIRE

rhhardin said...

Orro was the master of wordplay.

William said...

The n-word now has something of the power of the Y***h word in Bronze Age Israel. Just uttering the word out loud can visit instant destruction on yourself and your family......I read the Times article. I wonder--and I realize that this is a remote possibility--if the Somali students have any cultural baggage that might interfere with their assimilation into America and whether it would be in any way permissible to talk about such baggage.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Is "used a racial slur" code for "sang the lyric of the song?" Is that what "used" means?

You people have lost your fucking minds. Nice sensitive centrist people really will act as useful idiots for any Leftist bullshit they can. Ridiculous.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

“I cannot believe "have never been around a single person who used the word in the hateful manner".”

Define hateful. I can honestly say that I’ve never heard the word used vehemently in my entire life. And I’ve occasionally hung out in the depths of Crackerdom. But I’ve heard a shit-ton of jokes.

Which is more hateful? Telling Doberman Pinscher jokes or treating you like a child and condemning you to a lifetime of dependency and manipulated grievance in the furtherance of my own wealth and power? Neither is good but don’t pretend life isn’t a matter of degrees.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...In the 80s, there was an emerging "We're all sinners" approach. I thought that's where we would go. The current denial of any taint of toxin is, ironically, a new iteration of the old idea of colorblindness. In the early 70s, it seemed possible to get to colorblindness, but the elite decided to make that idea retrograde, so it's poetic justice for the idea come back into fashion (albeit unnoticed).

Whoops--you're only talking about white people here, right? Otherwise you might be implying that "everyone" of all races are to some degree biased, racist, etc, and I'm sure your campus colleagues will be happy to inform you of the indisputable fact that ONLY WHITE PEOPLE CAN BE RACIST. Racism is about power, you see, and the legacy of colonialism taints the descendants of oppressors, blah blah blah blah.

"We" can't all be racist because by definition only white people can be racist. It's impossible, therefore, to ever have a common basis of understanding and/or common ground across people of different races, so universal expressions simply aren't possible. To believe otherwise is, naturally, a clear sign of racism!

Molly said...

Here is the mainstream thinking about "a conversation about race." It is not a point of view that I endorse.

It is essential that we have a conversation about race. But that conversation must begin by all white people saying: "racism exists, and I personally recognize it in my own heart, and it must be exterminated." Then non-white people can reply in any way they wish. And then (if the conversation continues) white people can say: "racism exists, and I personally recognize it in my own heart, and it must be exterminated." Such a conversation is essential to solve any problems related to race.

And let us recognize that any white person who refuses to say "racism exists, and I personally recognize it in my own heart, and it must be exterminated" is a white person who is racist.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Louis C.K. had a bit about using "n-word" as a euphemism being worse than saying the word because you put the actual word into someone else's head without having, yourself, to take responsibility for saying it. I remember it as a funny bit but I 100% will not search for a link to it...'cause that'd for sure be raci

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said... I assume everyone is at least a little bit racist, but I've never, in person, heard it expressed with the much-talked-about word.

Oh dear; that's thoughtcrime.
If you mean "all people, black and white" when you say "everyone" then you're wrong (black people and other minorities cannot be racist) and your perpetuation of that wrong idea is a form of racism.
If you mean "white people" when you say "everyone" then you're betraying an understanding of people that implicitly excludes black people and other victims of racism (who cannot, themselves, be racist) and that clearly shows racist thinking, even if it's unconscious.

Please be more careful, Professor!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Kendrick Lamar Invites Girl on Stage, Calls Her Out For Singing N-Word

That's a great one, I tell you what. Famous millionaire rapper pulls a (white) girl on stage to sing his lyrics at his show, then berates her for being racist for singing the slur he included as part of that song. Then afterwards there were a bunch of very serious think pieces about why what that horrible white girl did wasn't OK. Too funny.

Mike Sylwester said...

Asians don't complain about bad words.

My brother is a liberal married to a Vietnamese immigrant, and he has informed me that I am a racist for using the word Oriental -- not about her in particular, but rather for using the word at all.

It turns out that saying Oriental is about as bad as saying Nigger.

Matt said...

"'I think it comes from a place of racism,' said Abang, the girl who was tackled and arrested"

You mean the girl who assaulted a police officer and is charged with fourth-degree assault of a peace officer. There's a life lesson here. Saying the n word when you're white isn't illegal. When you're singing along with a rap song, it may not even be immoral or unethical. On the other hand, attacking a police officer because you think your classmate is racist is illegal, and probably immoral and unethical to boot. Conversations (i.e., haranguing white people) about race aren't going to keep you from getting in trouble for committing a violent crime.

Mike Sylwester said...

It's racist to say colored people.

You are supposed to say People of Color -- capitalized when written.

In about 15 years, it will be racist to say People of Color.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Kinda hard to follow the conversation here. Since the article does not say, I have no idea what word you're all talking about.

Tarrou said...

The incoherence of the discussion is due to an unwillingness to consider intent.

This is very simple, words are not "hateful" in and of themselves, only people are. When a black person refers to a friend as "my n***er", they are not being hateful. Non-black people, especially kids, seeing the parlance of many of their media idols, and having no particular hate of their own, cannot be expected to hold the term in such horror. Singing along with a song sung by black people is not a case of anti-black hatred. Treating it as such is morally obtuse.

Caligula said...

"I remember many an innocent child getting hoodwinked into saying the n-word by the counting-out rhyme "Eeny meeny miney moe."

We learned the nice version. The first time most of us learned that there was another version was when they told us not ever to say "that" version.

Seeing Red said...

Since American rap is universal, what do they tell the other colors of the world who sing along?

Seeing Red said...

One of the best SNL skits is still Chevy and Prior. Dead Honkey.

Ice Nine said...

Saying the word "nigger" with malice and hate and as an epithet is nasty and abominable, in my estimation. But it is but one of many such words. Saying it when quoting or when discussing the very word itself is fine. In the latter circumstance, saying, "the N word" instead of saying "nigger" is stupid and absurdly juvenile.

Francisco D said...

I remember many an innocent child getting hoodwinked into saying the n-word by the counting-out rhyme "Eeny meeny miney moe.

My stepfather did that to me when I was about 5-6. He then whipped my ass with a belt. Hence, I almost never used the word nor did anyone I know growing up in Chicago.

My suburban cousins (life long fervent Democrats) used the word frequently and seemed low class to me. My ex-wife (African-American) and her girlfriends used the "word" to describe people they thought were foolish and low class.

My grandfather (born in the 1890s) used the term "darkie" with no apparent animosity. Autocorrect does not want me to use that word in this post.

mikee said...

One Sunday in the late 1960s, I was sitting with my Grandpa in his living room watching news on his color TV, along with my father and uncle. Color TV was a novelty then, and watching it with the adults was a privilege reserved for Sundays after Church.

Some news item about civil unrest over race led them to a discussion of racial slurs. My father and uncle said that such slurs were to be condemned. My grandfather worked in a Pittsburgh steel mill for 30 years starting around the time of World War 1, in a desegregated workforce, in a job where injury was common and danger was constant. Respecting your coworkers was necessary for safety, color/origin/religion be damned.

He explained that during the early part of the 1990s, mass immigration to the US led to many, many more racial, ethnic, religious, and national origin identifiers than are commonly used in more recent years, used commonly not as slurs but as simple adjectives.

He then started listing all he could, and my elders joined in, from John Bull (English) and Hunky (Eastern European) through several others I'd never heard about Scandinavians and Hispanics and Protestants and Jews down to different-levels-of-derogatory Dago, Guinea, Wop (Italian), Fisheater (Catholic) and finally the word used on TV that started the discussion, Nigger (African). He explained that "Negro" was in his time always more polite, but that when he was growing up, "Nigger" was not a slur, but more a word used instead of Negro by the lower classes of people, such as other new immigrants and, of course, Southerners.

At which point my father, born and raised in North Carolina, broke up laughing at my Grandfather's joking insult of his origins, and the conversation ended.

The intent of the speaker is paramount in any communication; ill-intent on the speaker's part is most often determinable by context. Letting the listener determine intent of the speaker confounds the whole concept of speech and is to be rejected as a matter of course.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Tarrou said...The incoherence of the discussion is due to an unwillingness to consider intent.

Oh, if only it were that easy! The harm hearing a given word or words causes is alleged to be wholly separate from the intent of the person using the word or words. Since the problem is the feelings experienced by the hearer (or the person who hears about the hearer) and the person experiencing those feelings doesn't care about the speaker's intent, the intent does not matter.

Nice empathetic centrist people have decided that the feelings people claim to experience aren't subject to objective evaluation; you might think it's ridiculous for someone to feel hurt by something but your opinion doesn't matter and no matter how irrational the purported subjective experience (of hurt) may seem to you it must still be considered 100% valid.

You can't rationalize yourself out of non-rational problems--you can't logic yourself out of problems of emotion. Sorry.

rhhardin said...

You're not stuck with your feelings. You talk yourself into them and you can talk yourself out.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Caligula: "We learned the nice version. The first time most of us learned that there was another version was when they told us not ever to say "that" version."

Yeah, us too. We were taught to use the nice "..catch a Chinaman..." verson.

rcocean said...

Life must be very good, when this is NEWS.

Yancey Ward said...

In response to Laslo's 7:11 a.m. post, how many of us were tempted to go look up the page to make sure he was writing satire?

John Ray said...

I grew up as an "Air Force Brat". That term was used by the MP's and AP's as a derogatory term for sons (sometimes, rarely, the daughters) of Air Force members who ran afoul of base rules, one being myself. The term was so derogatory that it became of prohibited use, except by, of course, Air Force Brats. Now, it's a term of pride -- there is even a national organization of Air Force Brats, and as far as I can perceive, it may be used at any time by anyone.

Being an Air Force Brat meant many schools in many places. I went to schools where Whites were the minority, Blacks and Hispanics were, by far, the majority. I learned that the Blacks and Hispanics could call themselves and each other by all sorts of despicable terms, including the word of Ann's discussion, but Whites could not use those terms, those were fighting words. If I were called an Air Force Brat by a peer of non-Air Force heritage, again, a fight would ensue. Of course, we would pitch in, buy a large Coke (or beer when proper vendor was found) and all drink out of the same damn bottle.

Once, as a trial lawyer, I represented the husband, a rather not-so-wealthy Black man. My opposing counsel, a Hispanic (also Air Force Brat), represented the wife, a Black lady. During trial, the wife testified "He caught me in bed with my lover and threatened to pour gasoline on us and light it." My client, uncontrolled, stood up and loudly said. "Your Honor, this is Nigger shit and a lie, I didn't threaten, I promised I'd do it. This don't belong in the courtroom!" (Of course it did, being the crux of the case). The courtroom (being Black people interested in the case), the bailiff (a Black man) opposing counsel and I, broke up in laughter. The Judge, an honorable man white as snow, found no humor, called counsel to the bench, told us so, and ordered us to settle the case immediately in that he didn't want to hear anything more. We settled the case, because we knew, as did the whole population of the courtroom, the Judge didn't understand the irony, nuances and humor of the whole situation.

If one reads between the lines, this says it all.

Rick said...

In the aftermath of the incident in February, the black students at Owatonna told administrators that they didn’t just want the school to ban a racial slur. Eman and other students said they were after deeper change that would address why white students felt comfortable using the slur in the first place.

It's revealing to see the NYT give us this racist summary (It's not clear if the racism is the student's or the NYT's) without comment or qualm. Compare this to their hyper-vigilant awareness of any generalization about blacks or other favored groups.

No matter how much they want to paint me as guilty for what others do it's still just racism.

Fen said...

Bulworth, last scene before the sniper hits our hero

Halley Berry: "You know you're my.... "



Skippy Tisdale said...

"2+2=4"

Not in base 3.

Fen said...

The incoherence of the discussion is due to an unwillingness to consider intent.

Redneck is meant the same way. It's an ethnic slur directed at rural whites. No different than calling Latinos wetbacks.

And yet it's not only allowed, it's defended.

Racism.

Lot's of glass houses are due to shatter soon. Just a matter of time, it's the pattern of preference cascades.

Yancey Ward said...

There is an entire genre of porn where white girls use the word.

mandrewa said...

Marcus said, "The correct usage is "prejudiced".

Racism can result in prejudice, but prejudice doesn't mean racism. And don't bother pulling out your many dictionaries that have changed the meaning of words. "Racism" as a word was rarely used in the 60s. It only became popular as a weapon."


When I was a child I didn't use dictionaries. The way I learned the meaning of words was from context. Which meant I needed multiple examples to infer the meaning. So the way it worked is I would run into a word I didn't know. I would spend a few seconds trying to guess what it meant, and usually I would come up with multiple possibilities. Then I would move on. Except a part of my brain was now assigned the task of solving the meaning of that word. And that part would somehow store examples of the usage of this ? word until I solved it.

And I know this not because I know how my brain works, but because I can dimly remember the aha! moments when that part of my brain assigned to solving these puzzles would assign a meaning to a word. It was a subconscious process. I would only see the result, except that sometimes for a moment, in that moment of revelation, I would see all the different examples my brain had stored up and the meaning that made sense across them.

To this day, I still mispronounce many words because I learned the words from reading them and not from hearing them spoken. But I always get the meanings right. Or I should qualify that by saying I can't remember getting a meaning wrong.

And I find dictionaries irritating because they are full of all these little errors!

So speaking as an independent authority on what words mean, prejudice and racism are closely related. Every time the word racist is used correctly prejudice is also implied. Or to say it a little better, you couldn't be racist in that way, without also being prejudiced.

Now having said that I like the idea of separating 'prejudice' from 'racist' because there are different kinds of racism and some are much worse of a thing than others. It would be nice to separate some of these less common meanings from prejudice, which is extremely common. (In fact I think everybody is prejudiced, because ultimately this is just the way our brains work. You can't escape from it.)

But the problem with saying prejudice is not racism is that if you look at the way 'racism' is used, much of the time it is actually describing prejudice (or as I might mentally qualify it: the first level of racism).

Note by the way if a child was learning the meaning of 'racist' today -- by my method -- they might guess it was a synonym for 'white.'

But speaking from the context of what the word meant when I was a child and actually what it still means, I felt the word was loaded, politically speaking, because it was an implicit critique of the left just by existing. To qualify that I should say that I'm asserting that all left-wing ideologies includes a thinking in terms of groups as the basic unit of identity and morality.

And if that's the case, then if you're left-wing you are automatically prejudiced and you are automatically racist, and furthermore this is racism at a higher and worse level than simple prejudice.

Whereas if you're right-wing, you have a choice. You could be racist or, excepting prejudice, you could not be racist. We can any easily imagine a right-wing ideology that does not require people to perceive others through a racist lens.

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

"Their efforts led to messy, uncomfortable conversations that would have seemed impossible not long ago."

Hardly. From the article, it sounds like it did nothing but lead right back to the same tired, go-nowhere "conversations about race" (aka struggle sessions) we've been having for decades.

The comments, predictably, evince no understanding whatsoever of what's going on in situations like this. Wall-to-wall NPR-listener piety competition.

Michael said...

Althouse
The late Dick Gregory, a true champion of free speech, wrote a book with the title “Nigger” to disarm its power.

The NYT writer would have to be very dense to believe that white kids routinely used the word while it was shocking to the tender ears of the black kids. Almost all rap music is laden with the word and it would only be shocking to find a black kid who hasn’t heard it frequently. Daily. Hourly.

Skippy Tisdale said...

"An ironsmith is someone who works with iron"

Then what, pray tell, does a blacksmith work with?

n.n said...

Diversity breeds adversity. That said, caveat emptor.

Unknown said...

Screw them all.

Fen said...

The late Dick Gregory, a true champion of free speech, wrote a book with the title “Nigger” to disarm its power.

Related: YouTube announced this week that they are scrubbing all "white supremacists" sites. And you know how loosely they will apply that standard.

It's a dumb move for 2 reasons:

1) it mystifies the movement. No longer can you tune in and find some ignorant idiot discrediting his entire racial supremacy theory with a meth pipe in hand. Now it will go underground and become forbidden fruit, something enticing to unguarded minds. YouTube is inadvertently strengthening the white supremacy movement. All 12 of them.

2) I once opposed any flag burning amendment because, despite how offensive burning the American flag is to this Marine's heart, our people should have the right to burn our symbols in protest. And they are the canary in a coal mine, deny their freedom of expression and speech and you'll be next. ...at least that was my argument. Now I see I was wrong - if the Nazis are no longer protected then neither are the Marxists. I'm tired of being straight-jacketed by rules the other side refuses to play by. So, punch a Nazi? Yes. And kill the Marxists.

Thanks for opening my eyes, YouTube.

Unknown said...

“Blogger Molly said...
Here is the mainstream thinking about "a conversation about race." It is not a point of view that I endorse.

It is essential that we have a conversation about race. But that conversation must begin by all white people saying: "racism exists, and I personally recognize it in my own heart, and it must be exterminated." Then non-white people can reply in any way they wish. And then (if the conversation continues) white people can say: "racism exists, and I personally recognize it in my own heart, and it must be exterminated." Such a conversation is essential to solve any problems related to race.

And let us recognize that any white person who refuses to say "racism exists, and I personally recognize it in my own heart, and it must be exterminated" is a white person who is racist.”

This sounds quite a bit like a conversation about climate change. Another load of crap.

Nobody said...

Iron is a material, like sound. Words are already things made out of sounds. So maybe the word you are looking for is word welder, or tinker. All I am really saying is that the word wordsmith (finger quotes) doesn't fill a need and is kind of jarring and a lousy metaphor.

Nobody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

Diversity or color judgment, not limited to racism, does indeed exist.

Unknown said...

I do not subscribe to NYT. I was interested in this article, not enough to buy the paper. It would be helpful in the future to know if a paywall is involved to help those scottsmen in the crowd that money is involved.

Char Char Binks said...

"I'm confused. Is it racist to listen to rap music or attend concerts where that word is used? Or is it racist to avoid such music?"

Yes.

bagoh20 said...

Senario: Two young people are great friends - one Black and one White. They love a lot of the same things, including Rap. One of their favorite songs comes on the radio and so they sing along, having a wonderful time and connecting as friends in a joyful experience of youth and innocence. When the word comes up in the song, they both sing along and say the word. Suddenly, one of them is a terrible person, and the other insulted.

That is just an awful way to run a culture. The racism of that situation is all aimed at the White person, which is a deeply racist thing to do. It's mean-spirited, unfair, stupid, and unsustainable. Blacks need to stop the racism. I know it's very powerful, and a great weapon to have in your pocket to push people around, but like all weapons, you don't use it against people who are not attacking you, or who wish you no harm. In the long term, it is just shitting where you eat. We have to live in this world side by side. Stop attacking innocent people just because you can. It's no different than the racism that once went the other direction where Whites just used race to hurt Blacks for no good reason. Just as vile, and just as racist.

Geoff Matthews said...

I'm reading a book about the n-word (by Randall Kennedy), and I don't know how I would talk to people about it.
Interesting book, but it's a conversation killer.

mandrewa said...

"Diversity or color judgment, not limited to racism, does indeed exist."

Please give a non-trivial example.

I don't know what diversity or color judgement means. But I'm guessing it's an assertion that prejudice can be separated from racism, or something like that. I don't really know what you're saying.

Jim at said...

For one, they're just words.

Two. Either we all get to use the words or nobody gets to use them.

I choose the second option. Don't like it? Tough. They're just words.

rhhardin said...

Stop attacking innocent people just because you can.

You're wrong about who's losing out. They're making black idiots the leaders of all blacks. Try opting out of that if you're black. Or it might not even occur to you to opt out.

If you don't opt out, you lose everything.

DavidUW97 said...

My grandmother preferred “colored”
Grandfather preferred “black”

That’s all.

Jim at said...

correction: I choose the first option.
Everybody gets to use the words.

Saint Croix said...

The same thing happened to the Beastie Boys.

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