I was sitting in my car and having one of those too tired to get out of the car moments. My car was invaded by loud music. It wasn’t just any loud music. It was so bad that I can’t call that crap hip hop. The sounds of the “N” word invaded my car. Each line, had the provocative, offensive word in it 2-4 times. How can you even make a sentence with that word in it so many times? I can’t even begin to diagram those “sentences.” Yes, I used the quotes. It’s hard to do air quotes while writing. I wish you could see the smirk on my face. Back to this noise. I get out of my car and start trying to imagine who would be listening to this madness. I’m not in the hood. I’m in western Massachusetts. I walked past the cars to figure out where the noise was coming from. The offending car was 2 cars down, and the person playing it was not black. They did not look embarrassed or apologetic when I saw them. At first, I was relieved that it wasn’t my people playing this foolishness and polluting public airspace. Then, I felt sad realizing that no one needed to be listening to this mess. No one should have been playing it on the radio, and it didn’t need to have been recorded. Also, it was a wake up call to not attribute foolishness to “the hood.” Folks cut up everywhere, and there are folks that are really good people that are working on empowerment and love in the hood, too.
There is no way you could listen to this song and not have negative feelings toward black people. This situation reminds me of how I often have heard that you need to be careful of the words you listen to. Words and thoughts have more power than we often give them credit for. This includes the ones we speak and the ones we hear. I had to “woosah” myself back to a zen space, which I am in now. In a time where there is so much hate and ignorance in the world, including the uncloaked violence and prejudice toward black people, there is no place for messages of hate, including self hate. I strongly believe it’s time that we, all of us, including black people, be more mindful and start taking the narrative back. It’s time for all of us to rewrite the narrative with truth. I realize this is infinitely easier said than done, but I know we are up to the challenge. We are only powerless if we believe it. Let’s believe we are strong. Let’s believe we have a voice. Let’s believe that we deserve equality. Let’s believe that we can be emotionally and spiritually healthy. Now, go do it! I’ll be doing it, too!
July 17, 2015 at 7:03 pm
You’re so right…*that word* (saying or writing “N-word” to me euphemistically diminishes the ugliness of it…I’m with President Obama on that) is so ingrained in my speech in ‘closed company’ that it is seemingly impossible to extricate from my speech…especially around my brother, who I compete with to come up with ever more ignorant ways of pronouncing the word as a 20 year recurring joke. But as soon as we hear it “in mixed company”…we viscerally get upset or embarrassed. I think when rappers use it…they have this same mentality: they are just talking to “the family” of Black folks who “earned the right” to throw that evil word around because it’s got the blood of our ancestors on it. In actuality, though…the blood of our ancestors on the word should be the very reason we should try to commit *that word* to the dustbin of history. Our mental conditioning is so deep…150 years after slavery ended the oppressor has got us verbally oppressing each other on autopilot…”he” is not even involved anymore in this aspect of diminishing our humanity. We do it to ourselves. Thanks for giving me something to think about, Ericka!