I agree with Roger Ebert on two points. I’d also rather be called a nigger than a slave and yes, he certainly “should have shut the f*ck up.” That said, Roger, I see you. I see the point you were making and I appreciate the retraction based on lack of experience. I hope the nigger you married appreciates it, too.
Can I get something of my chest? Can I ask a muthaf&#@in’ question?
How do we get to a place where a white man feels comfortable enough to use the word “nigger” in as public a forum as Twitter?
Black people, I blame us for a lot of this.
Roger Ebert ain’t no solo act. There are many white people who are confused by black folk. Some of them are trying to engage. They listen to black music, watch black TV, have black friends. And by black, I mean BET. Cuz on the outside lookin’ in…somebody without knowledge will believe that what you see on BET is the totality of who black people are. Not cuz it’s true but because the BET blacks just tend to be louder. You know…squeaky wheel, blah, blah, blah…
So, now we got a bunch of white folk running around, sounding like rappers and acting like coons. They think they’re honorary black people. And there are some black folk who are both entertained and, sadly, validated by this bullshit. Hey, black people, look at the white boy, shuckin’ and jivin’…and mispronouncing all of our little colorful colloquialisms. He cool as shit, ain’t he?
But why that white boy don’t never act like Barack Obama? Why doesn’t he ever emulate J.C. Watts? Or Orpah Winfrey? Or Kenneth Chenault? Or Valerie Jarrett? Or Ann Fudge? Or any number of the black teachers, social workers, stay at home parents with working spouses, ministers (sans Eddie Long, of course) and college graduates who return home to their communities to work the front lines and ensure that the masses of our people see a way forward? Ain’t they black? How come Eminem…don’t act like none o’them? (Dope rhyme, no?)
The answer is that in this country folk, even black folk, still struggle to see and understand what black culture is outside of what we see on BET. It’s sad when white folk struggle with it…it’s unforgivable when black folk struggle with it.
Our country has a long history of being entertained by the buffoonery that black culture has been unable to escape, often at our own doing. Eminem, Roger Ebert – all that shit has a root in blackface. Buncha white folk makin’ funny on some black folk and our condition in this country. Buncha black folk givin’em all the ammunition they need. We sho’ can dance, we sho’ do run fast! Book learning?? Hell no…wanna race? Catch the ball! Run, nigger, run!! *sigh* Why else would that white man get on his Twitter and use a word that he know he ain’t allowed to use? He married a black woman, for crying out loud, so I know he was, at least, CC’d on that memo. To say he’d “rather be called a nigger than a slave?” Who makes a statement like that? I mean, really America?? Are those STILL the only two options for black people in the American psyche? How ‘bout this, Mr. Ebert…I’d rather be called Kym…(though I will answer to my slave name – Kristi Yamaguchi)
Now, this is not an indictment of all white people because the overwhelming majority have a respectful indifference or a healthy curiosity about black culture. I appreciate both. It matches my own regarding other cultures as well. I welcome dialogue and cultural participation but I categorically reject the mockery and contempt that breed this inappropriate familiarity that then leads some white folk to believe they can say whatever they want about us. You can THINK whatever you want, you gotta speak according to the rules. and yes, there ARE rules.
On a final note, I’m so glad that Roger Ebert was corrected by…uh, mainstream folk. Al Sharpton can’t do it all. It took a long time but I think I finally have a reason to be thankful for liberals.