NC Voter ID Law: Taking Our Country Back!

It’s time to Break It Down!

The American Right Wing has adopted what has become a familiar refrain; “Take our country back!”  North Carolina has become a leader in the movement to make this version of the “Dream Act” (which some will certainly find a nightmare) a reality.  The Old North State took the first giant step in this direction in the 2010 General Election, when the GOP captured both Houses of the State’s General Assembly for the first time in more than a century.  Republicans then, for all practical purposes, sealed the deal in the 2012 General Election, when former Charlotte Mayor, Pat McCrory, ascended to the Governorship.  Absent any semblance of checks and balances, the Party was large-and-in-charge.

At first, I wondered from whom these would be patriots deemed it necessary to rescue our country.  After a period of reflection, I arrived at two answers.  It is important to recognize America, as we know it is changing.  Prior to the Health Care vote, Census data indicated that births to blacks, Asians, and Hispanics accounted for 48% of all births in the 12 months ending in July 2008.  At the same time, the data projected that by 2012, non-Hispanic white births would be in the minority.  The Tea Party Movement is nearly all white.  There has not been an African American Republican in the House or the Senate since 2003.  There have been only three since 1935.  To say there is anxiety about an evolving America is an understatement.

Therefore, answer number one is “they” feel the need to “Take Our Country Back” from among others, the Black President, the woman Speaker of the House (done), the wise Latina member of the Supreme Court, and the gay House Committee Chairman (also done).  If you think that sounds crude, answer number two is perhaps even less palatable.  Ultimately, I believe the real focus may be directional in nature.  That is to say, “they” want to “Take Our Country Back” to a time when those with the wherewithal denied voting (and other) rights to those whom were not empowered to prevent themselves form being “jacked.”

One of the most recent trophy victories of North Carolina’s powerful triumvirate is an expansive Voter ID law; and calling it that (Vote ID law) is really a charitable appellation.  It is, after all, so much more.  I will expand on that later!  First, let us review a few of the other notable initiatives springing forth from the current North Carolina Legislature:

Ended the earned income tax credit for 900,000 North Carolinians

Declined Medicaid coverage for 500,000 North Carolinians

Eliminated unemployment benefits for 165,000 in North Carolina, which has the country’s 5th highest unemployment rate

Cut Pre-K for 30,000 kids, while shifting $90 million from public education to voucher schools

Cut taxes for the top 5 percent, while raising taxes on the bottom 95 percent

Allowed gun purchases without a background check, and carried in parks, playgrounds, restaurants, and bars

Eliminated public financing of judicial races

Prohibit Death Row inmates from challenging racially discriminatory verdicts

Inserted abortion restriction measures into a bill ostensibly about Sharia law

In response to this overwrought right-wing agenda onslaught against citizens’ rights and privileges, a grass roots movement known as “Moral Monday” emerged.  Since April 2013, each Monday, demonstrators have assembled at the State Capitol to protest the serial enactment of this spate of new ALEC-inspired policies (American Legislative Exchange Council).  Police estimate an average attendance of 2,500 at the weekly gatherings.  Because of the protests, authorities have arrested more than 800 demonstrators.

Last week, the State’s proposed Voter ID law was on deck.  North Carolina placed this measure on the fast track after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA)The Act applied to nine states – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia – and to scores of counties and municipalities, including Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, and not surprisingly, 40 counties in North Carolina.

The VRA made it illegal to discriminate against voters based on race.  While the Court did not strike down Section 5, which requires covered jurisdictions to seek pre-clearance from the Justice Department before changing voting laws, it is of no consequence unless Congress agrees to pass new legislation identifying which states are covered.  The odds of the current dysfunctional Congress reaching such an agreement are slim and none.

For all practical purposes, the VRA is dead, and that leads me to the point of the story.  The North Carolina General Assembly approved a Voter ID law on steroids.  The House approved a bill in April that required Voter IDThe Senate then, in the closing days of the session, added 40 pages and over 50 provisions.

In the final analysis, the law did not stop at requiring voters to provide a government ID in order to execute their ballot.  In addition to disenfranchising 319,000 voters who do not have such an ID (Driver’s License, State ID, Military ID, and U.S. Passport), the bill also:

Ends same day registration

Rescinds automatic restoration of voting rights to ex-felons

Legalizes the right for any person to stand in a polling place and issue a challenge to ones right to vote

Eliminates straight ticket voting

Abolishes pre-registration by 17 year-olds

Reduces Early Voting from 17 days to 10 days

Requires voters to make all address updates or other changes at least 25 days prior to Election Day

Weakens disclosure requirements intended to make clear who underwrites campaign ads

Permits political parties to raise unlimited corporate donations

Raises the cap on individual donations from $4,000 to $5,000

Republicans assert the new law will restore faith in elections, and prevent voter fraud, which they say is endemic and undetected (an interesting, almost contradictory argument on its face).  They maintain this claim, even though the State Board of Elections says there was one only case of voter fraud identified in 2012.

Nonpartisan voting rights groups, Democrats, and Libertarians counter that the true goal of this wide-ranging initiative is to suppress voter turnout among young, old, poor, and minority voters.  Three hundred nineteen thousand North Carolina voters do not possess the requisite ID; most are students, the elderly, the poor, or black.  That President Obama won all of those groups, except the elderly, in 2008, and again in 2012 is no coincidence.  Moreover, according to North Carolina voting statistics, Democrats are more likely to vote early, and more likely to vote straight ticket.

Protest against the aggressive drive by the Governor and Legislature to reverse decades of hard-fought and previously won rights have not been limited to Moral Mondays.  Last week, prior to the General Assembly’s approval of the Voter ID bill, six staunch defenders of freedom and voting rights staged a sit-in in the Office of Speaker of the House, Thom Tillis.  These activists cogently presented their case, in fact the people’s case, for why Speaker Tillis should have killed House Bill 589.

The bill cleared both Houses the next day and is now on the Governor’s desk, awaiting his approval.  However, before the General Assembly sent the bill to the Governor, like their Moral Monday counterparts, authorities arrested The Tillis 6.  Of course, they knew the likely outcome of their noble deed, before undertaking it.  Still, they “stood their ground”…for decency, for integrity, and for your vote, and mine.  I salute The Tillis 6!

The current reactionary pattern evident in North Carolina and in a number of other places in our country should concern all of us.  Some of the ideas and measures stemming from them resemble strategies and actions that ensued as Jim Crow displace Reconstruction.  The shrillness of the debate has the feel of an anachronistic demographic resorting to “Any Means Necessary” to preserve, no, restore, a passé life and times.  In those days, it was apple pie and baseball for some, lynching, beatings, and disenfranchisement for others.

My advice to all who will listen is stay vigilant.  We are well on the way to the reality of NC Voter ID Legislation: Taking Our Country Back!”

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“One Journalist’s Critique of Two of President Obama’s Harshest Critics”

It’s time to Break It Down!

Before I launch today’s post, let me be clear…I voted for President Obama.  Twice…without regret!  Having said that, I recognize and respect the rights of individuals to vote for, and support, whomever they choose.  I also fully appreciate and embrace the rights of individuals to disagree with and even criticize candidates, politicians, and elected officials.  Without a doubt, my beliefs speak to the kind of country in which we live.

I am taking a somewhat different tack (than that which I usually do) in this post.  Typically, I employ a number of sources and citations to tease out my point(s), and ultimately to make the case of the day.  In this instance, I want to present for your reading pleasure, an opinion piece written by LZ Granderson, a regular CNN Contributor.

In the article, linked below, LZ looks at two prominent African Americans who frequently and fiercely render scathing criticism of the President.  More importantly, he renders an opinion (which is what one does when writing commentaries and opinion pieces), regarding why these two men, TavisSmiley, and Dr. Cornel West, choose to attack the President.

It goes without saying people attack the President everyday…any president…no matter how beloved in some circles.  However, within the African American community, it has often seemed that President Obama, the First Black President, gets a pass.

This perception, which more often than not is accurate, is certainly not a sign of monolithic approval of the President.  However, it is fair to say, that lack of single-minded support inures to the chagrin of some African Americans.  Wait let’s be real…to the chagrin of many African Americans.  OK, whom am I kidding?  Most African Americans find such caustic comments about the President, by anyone, offensive.  That the remarks emanate from other African Americans simply underscores the disdain with which they are often viewed.

So who are Tavis Smiley and Cornel West?

Mr. Smiley is a talk show host, liberal political commentator, and author, among other things.  He gained national acclaim by leveraging numerous opportunities to speak in front of a mic, or to an audience.  Born in Gulfport, Mississippi, he later moved to Bunker Hill, Indiana, and earned a degree in Public Affairs at Indiana University.  He is currently the host of “Tavis Talks” on BlogTalkRadio’s Tavis Smiley Network.

Dr. West is a philosopher, academic, activist, and public intellectual.  He holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from Princeton University.  He is also a prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America.  Currently, Dr. West is a Professor of African American Studies at Princeton and a Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary.

In short, they are educated, articulate, and opinionated African American men.  They pursue and promote their agenda with passion and persistence.  Their agenda: elevating poverty as a working policy issue in America; then eliminating it.

LZ identifies the inception of what is known in the vernacular as the “hateration” of President Obama, first by Mr. Smiley, and then by his colleague-in-hateration, Dr. WestGranderson hails Smiley’s invitation of then Senator Obama to attend his Summit on the “State of the Black Union,” in February 2008, in New Orleans.  At the time, Senator Obama was locked in a spirited battle for the Democratic Party Presidential Nomination with then Senator Hillary Clinton.  The ante likely was raised by the fact Senator Clinton did attend.  Meanwhile, Senator Obama offered to send Mrs. Obama as a surrogateTavis declined, and immediately, according to LZ, a rift was born.

Granderson recounts a similar perceived slight for Dr. West.  He maintains Dr. West was incensed at receiving one ticket to the Inauguration…instead of the three he had requested.  This lack of “proper respect,” earned the newly elected President a comparison to Machiavelli, according to LZ.

There was a time when Smiley and West were accorded more respect, and certainly a higher level of popularity.  Even now, I applaud both of them for the willingness to commit unswervingly to their shared values…even though I disagree with many of their “Obama rants.”  I do not consider myself an “Obamapologist.”  Most assuredly, I believe he is fallible, and like all politicians, faces choices for which there is no “one-size-fits-all” response.

I definitely feel he has missed the mark on occasion.  However, when I consider the alternatives we were given in 2008, and 2012, I am satisfied that President Obama has spent his time in office laboring to keep Americans safe, and to re-energize a sputtering economy; moreover, that the results of his efforts, naysayers and obstructionists, notwithstanding, reflect success, given where he started.

I urge you to read Mr. Granderson’s treatment of the subject he calls, “What’s Motivating Some of Obama’s Critics?”  To wit, I give you;”One Journalist’s Critique of Two of President Obama’s Harshest Critics!”

I’m done; holla back!

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“Four Minutes!”

It’s time to Break It Down!

I never wanted to write a post about the Trayvon Martin trial.  In fact, I did not intend to.  Many of my close friends and associates wanted, or at least expected me to do so.  Secretly, I thought they were wrong…and I was prepared to prove it.

I usually try to direct readers’ attention to some current event.  George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon in February 2012.  The media has inundated the public with coverage of the case since that time.  There just could not be, in my view much more to say.  Rest assured, even in discussing it, I will make no effort to retry the case, nor provide anything resembling a blow by blow of pertinent details.

So I was poised to ferret out another topic.  However, then…I listened to an airing of a portion of the Defense’s closing argument.  It went a little something like this:

After presenting about an hour and twenty minutes of his closing argument, Mark O’Mara, the lead Attorney for the Defense, orchestrated a break.  He set a timer for four minutes.  After the time on the device expired, Mr. O’Mara said, “That’s how long Trayvon Martin had to run.  About four minutes.”

With that one matter of fact comment, I knew immediately, “That…is a bloggable moment!”  Not to worry; I will make this an endless diatribe, or interminable rant.

That statement, with or without the theatrics of the timer was, in my opinion, the Neutron Bomb, of the case.  If in fact, you see whatever unfolded, in the manner in which Mr. O’Mara explained it in that comment, you must also believe, in effect, that no matter where he is, if a black man is being followed by a white man, he better run.  Why?  Because to do otherwise, is to place his life in jeopardy; he could be killed, and it would simply be deemed self-defense.

In this encounter, Trayvon Martin, who was seventeen years old, apparently had one advantage, the opportunity to run.  Even though:

  • Trayvon Martin was walking (to his father’s fiancée’s) home from the store; by most reasonable accounts, occupying space for which he had every right to be in
  • Trayvon was unarmed, except for a bag of Skittles and a can of soft drink, be it tea or other flavored drink
  • Trayvon was profiled; you may say it wasn’t racial, but he was followed because of how he looked
  • Through all of this, Trayvon, it appears from the rationale put forward by the defense, and ultimately accepted by the jury, is accorded no rights…not of self-defense,     not of standing his ground, not even of walking home from the store

Over the past two nights, CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed Juror Number B37.  The network maintained her anonymity during a nearly hour-long interview conducted on Monday, in which she answered an array of questions that left this writer, and many others, with the impression that her view of Mr. Zimmerman, of Mr. Martin, and of the case, was practically a mimeograph of the Defense’s collective arguments.  According to her, the other jurors’ outlook was relatively consistent with hers.

On the face of it, this is a scary prospect.  It would be even scarier, had the other jurors not distanced themselves from her comments.  I have no idea whether the denials are a function of really having different views, or if they just desperately wanted to avoid any link to the views articulated by Juror B37.  No doubt, that was especially true after those views immediately garnered so much negative feedback from across the digital spectrum.

Reaction was swift and negative!  So much so, that Juror B37, who had revealed on Monday, plans to co-write a book about her jury experience, recanted Tuesday, saying she decided not to pursue the book.  In a separate account, floating around the digital universe and reported by the Washington Post, the Literary Agent pulled the deal.  It does not really matter.  Either way, this bit of “compelling history” will have to wait for an appropriate vehicle.

What observations did Juror B37 make during her interview with Mr. Cooper?

She expressed several opinions some might consider more than a little controversial.  A few that rise above others include:

The jurors considered the Stand Your Ground Law…even though the defense did not use that law as part of their strategy

Race played no part in the case; nor of Zimmerman profiling Trayvon

Trayvon was equally responsible for his death along with Zimmerman

She felt sorry for Trayvon (in the situation he was in)…and for Zimmerman (because of the situation he got himself into)

Juror B37 had no doubt Zimmerman feared for his life

The voice on the tape was “definitely George”

George Zimmerman learned his lesson about going too far, and he should still serve as a neighborhood watchman…and he should get his gun back

Zimmerman was guilty only of using poor judgment; he was egged-on by the 911 Operator

Zimmerman’s history of reporting black men to the police, and his decision to follow Trayvon had no role in the verdict

Rachel Jeantel’s testimony was not credible

OK, let us just go ahead and stipulate, if someone believes the assertions in all of the bullet points above, it is easy to see how that particular someone would arrive at a “Not Guilty” verdict.  If one accepts all those assertions as facts, it is virtually impossible to conclude otherwise.

Not surprisingly, there has been considerable post-verdict interest in the case.  Many media outlets as well as casual observers predicted there would be violent fallout from a Zimmerman acquittal.  For the most part, this negative, but oft-repeated expectation has failed to materialize.  There have been numerous protests across the country, but little violence to date.

On Sunday, President Obama issued a statement on the outcome of the case.  In it, he noted that the jury has spoken, and called for Americans to honor Trayvon by respecting the calls for calm reflection and by asking ourselves how we can prevent tragedies such as this in the future.

Here is the statement in its entirety:

“The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.”

There remain various views about this case.  These views include:

  • Mr. Zimmerman, his family, the Defense and those who sided with it, insist, “Justice has been served.” 
  • Mark O’Mara contends that anyone who does not just accept the verdict and move on is disrespecting the process 
  • Fox News host Bill O’Reilly characterized those who are upset about the Zimmerman verdict as falling into one of two camps: 1) “Those who hate     America; 2) Those who believe their country is racist

Of course, alternately, there are those who have done the research, who report:

Blacks receive longer sentences than whites for having committed comparable crimes

Blacks are convicted by far more often when the jury is all white, versus a more diverse panel

Whites are far less likely to be convicted in a case involving a black victim when the jury is all white, than when the panel is diverse

Justice is a complex concept and it often has a complicated array of moving parts.  Undoubtedly, that was part of the fractured narrative accompanying this case.  I admit I watched far too much of the Trial.  Consequently, the verdict did not surprise me.

I would be disingenuous if I said I said I did not find the verdict disappointing; but surprised, I was not!  The vast majority of the analysts I saw and/or heard contended the Defense was Storming the Castle on the prosecution.  So many Prosecution witnesses buttressed the Defense’s case with their testimony, combined with the State abandoning its version of events regarding which of the two men was on top, assured that the handwriting on the wall was so clear, even Rachel Jeantel could read it.  In fact, she pretty much said she did, in her Monday evening interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan.

I hoped for a different outcome.  Until…I heard that sobering segment of Mr. O’Mara’s closing argument: “Four Minutes!”  “That’s how long Trayvon Martin had to run.”

I’m done; holla back!

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“All You Need to Know!”

It’s time to Break It Down!

Last week I opted to risk offending the basic sensibilities of the more refined readers among you, by constructing a post that underscored my off-the-chart temerity.  Yes, I actually included the unadulterated, non-coded, no hyphen included, N-word in the Title.

Clearly, my readership is on point.  Not a single individual provided a direct written response.  Congratulations!  The NSA will have nothing on any of you.  At least, they will have nothing on you related to that blog.  I just hope you didn’t wait ‘til last week to clean up your act.  LOL!

This week’s entry is brief, as the Title suggests.  However, don’t be sidetracked by the lead-in.  While I mentioned last week’s post in the lead-in paragraph, it is the post from two weeks ago that I want to summon your attention to for today’s review.

On June 26th, I wrote about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and its role the previous day in crippling the Voting Rights Act (VRA).  In essence, by a 5-4 vote, the Court struck down the central element of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA), Section IV.  Already, chickens are coming home to roost.

In the ensuing two weeks since SCOTUS ruled on the VRA, a number of states have moved rapidly to erode the protections of the law.  Michael Cooper, a national correspondent for The New York Times wrote in that paper on July 5th, “State officials across the South are aggressively moving ahead with new laws requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls after the Supreme Court decision striking down a portion of the Voting Rights Act.”

Since the Tea Party revolt of 2010, Republicans have controlled many of the State Houses across the South.  In North Carolina, for example, the GOP won both Houses of the General Assembly in 2010, marking the first time in over a century the Party controlled both Chambers of the State’s Legislature.  In 2012, the Party added the Governorship, when Pat McCrory, former Charlotte Mayor, won the Governor’s race.

Republicans have contended for some time that such laws are necessary to interdict voter fraud; an argument they make, despite the fact that voter fraud is an issue only in extremely rare instances.  In fact, ironically, in the 2012 election, most of the reported cases of such activity implicated Republicans.  I suppose, when you think of it that light, perhaps the GOP may have some special insight into the nature of the problem…if you know what I mean.

Democrats have consistently countered the frequently hollow voter fraud assertion with the insistence that they are concerned that the Courts’ ruling, and the laws that inure from it will make it more difficult for many poor and minority voters to cast their ballots, especially in states with a history of discrimination…most of which are in the South.

In Texas, authorities moved, the same day SCOTUS ruled, to enact a Photo ID law.  According to The Raw Story, State Attorney General Greg Abbott declared, “With today’s decision, the state’s voter ID law will take effect immediately.  Photo identification will now be required when voting in elections in Texas.”

In Mississippi and Alabama, State Houses had passed their own voter ID laws, but had not received federal approval to enact them.  Both states have now announced plans to advance post haste.

According to a Los Angeles Times report, “Republicans in the Old North State (North Carolina) intend to adopt stricter voter identification laws.  The same report says the state GOP is pushing to end the state’s early voting laws, Sunday voting, and same-day voter registration.”  Denizens of the Tar Heel State will be safe from voter fraud.  Sadly, the odds don’t seem nearly as good for avoiding voter suppression.

As you might imagine, civil rights activists and advocates have expressed alarm over the Court’s ruling.  Moreover, millions of voters from over a dozen states find their right to the ballot jeopardized by Southern Legislatures moving assertively to ensure a reduction in the number of voters, and an increase in the number of challenges standing between voters and their ballots.  That, gentle reader, is “All You Need to Know!”

I’m done; holla back!

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A Sociological and Etymological Examination of “Nigger;” the Most Verbally Radioactive Word in the English Language

It’s time to Break It Down!

(Warning: Reader discretion advised.  This post contains explicit language that some may consider offensive.)

According to a vast sample of sources, nigger is in one super-charged, six-letter, two-syllable word, the most offensive, most highly racially charged, and most vile epithet in the English Language; possibly, the single most disparaging and offensive characterization in the history of the English Language.  I believe most reasonably sane Americans would hold that assertion to be true.  Yet, it is common for some celebrity to ignite a controversy due to having liberally applied the sobriquet to an African American, or group thereof.

Quickly, allow me to add, this is not another Paula Deen rant.  If interested in her story, however, you can find a plethora of citations at Google or Bing, with a single mouse click.  Have at it.  By the way, for your information, the individual who filed suit against Ms. Deen was not African American.  The litigant, Ms. Lisa Jackson, is a white female…just for the record.

This is also not an extrapolation or dissection of the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case.  Moreover, rest assured pertinent information about this matter is readily available to you as well; at your fingertips, as it were.

Those are simply two contemporary instances in which the collective American focus has zeroed in laser-like fashion on the word nigger; directly, as it pertains to Ms. Deen’s, and indirectly, but still purposefully, with regard to the Zimmerman-Martin case.   A Plaintiff alleges Ms. Deen actually used the word nigger, while a key witness maintains Mr. Martin uttered the phrase, Creepy-assCracker,” which, in turn, numerous media outlets juxtaposed with nigger, for comparison purposes.

Having established the efficacy of that basic predicate, let us move on to a couple of critical questions:

1.     From whence does this inflammatory term derive? 

2.     What are the particular and peculiar elements that make the assignation so toxic?

First, according to Wikipedia, the free (online) encyclopedia, “The word originated as a neutral term referring to black people, as a variation of the Spanish/Portuguese noun negro, a descendant of the Latin adjective niger (“color black”).  Often used slightingly, by the mid 20th century, particularly in the United States, it suggested that its target is extremely unsophisticated. Its usage had become unambiguously pejorative, a common ethnic slur usually directed at blacks of Sub-Saharan African descent.”

That is actually a generous depiction of the evolution of the word, in terms of when negative connotations first emerged.  Later in the same citation, it becomes clear that in 1619, English settlers used variations of nigger when referring to slaves they had brought over to help conquer the New World.

Given the nature of the relationship between white men and women, and the slaves they bought, sold, owned, and treated dismissively, it is hardly likely any term appropriated specifically to describe those slaves was ever intended as an honorific.  I am confident we can safely stipulate that without fear of impeachment or contradiction.  To that end, there is no need, basis, or reason to feign ignorance and pretend that the verbal assaults on the senses (to say nothing of the physical assaults that often accompanied the verbal ones) emanating from “nigger” are a product of the 1960’s, and thus only 50 years in the making.

The evidence is clear, the direct insult and slurring spans four centuries.  That its use in 2013 can ever be considered in a light less significantly offensive than in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, or Twentieth Centuries, would likely be beyond debate, were it not for a single caveat.  That inexplicable note of exception flows from the recognition that a segment the black population is actively engaged in an effort to repurpose the word.

In fact, this effort is underscores a schism in the African American community.  In July 2007, the NAACP conducted a mock burial of the term.  Meanwhile, the denizens of the Hip Hop World, as well as a number of blacks, old and young, many of whom are not connected to hip hop in any way, revel in its resurrection.  They and others contend the term they use most frequently, nigga, conveys a form of brotherly love.  The principle problem with that is…it’s just the next variation.  Moreover, the use of the word by blacks apparently invites, at least some of, those white celebrities to ponder why blacks can use the word and they cannot.

While I think such reckoning is specious, and does not dignify a response, it does bring into focus the second question.  The toxicity associated with nigger is a function of the many hate-filled acts that accompanied the word and its use.  Lynchings and other murders, physical assaults, violation of civil rights, and a host of other consequential negative actions came with the assignation, nigger!  The pathological culture of fear, violence, terror, and anguish, directed at blacks, and intended to separate them from their due rights and benefits is what makes nigger such a heinous, contemptible, and despicable appellation.

I do not have the definitive answer for those blacks who refuse to “let it go.”  To be sure, hip hop has monetized the term.  That alone ensures that the relationship is durable.

Yet, I am reminded that while I was growing up, a number of adults who helped shape my view of the world challenged me regularly by asserting that the use of profanity was a sign of a lazy and stagnant mind; a lack of mental acuity.  I have to believe that rappers, creative entrepreneurs that they are, can do better.  There are some amazing artists who practice the hip hop art.  I know they can bury nigger, retire profanity, and eliminate misogyny from their future catalogs…if only they would.

As for those white folks who just cannot seem to break the habit, I offer you the well-thought out, very precise advice of one Christopher Julius Rock, III, AKA, Chris Rock.  In answer to the question, “Can white people say nigger,” taken from his 2008 CD, Kill The Messenger.”

Earlier, I referred to the use of nigger by members of the hip hop community.  As an addendum, comedians have also figured out inventive ways to monetize the term.  In this case, Mr. Rock is grouped with the rule, not the exception.  As with rappers, many comedians employ the word nigger to spin their stories.  The humorists can do better as well!   That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

There you have it; “A Sociological and Etymological Examination of “Nigger;” the Most Verbally Radioactive Word in the English Language!”  I’m done; holla back!

PS. Enjoy your Independence Day tomorrow!

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