Monday, November 10, 2014

The N-Word At The Washington Post

   I'm not going to be doing much blogging for awhile for IRL reasons, but I thought this, at the Washington Post, was pretty good. Some interesting stuff has been written on this topic, but this piece is a pretty good, short take on the thing.
   I grew up with an extremely racist father--not, y'know nouveau "racist," like, he used slightly unfashionable terms or said something ambiguous on Twitter once...I mean racist. Like, hated black people (also Asians...but they seemed to be a kind of afterthought...) racist. And my consciousness was formed when the civil rights movement was not exactly ancient history. Anyway, that's a word that's always going to send me into an anger subroutine. I do suspect that the "reclamation" strategy is the best strategy, though it took me a long time to get used to it. I don't think a policing-and-condemnation strategy is going to work, whereas I think a reclamation strategy is likely to. It's kinda hard for me to understand why non-blacks think it's ok to use the term, but that's a conversation I don't really feel a need to be a big part of. Seems to me that it's (a) a desire to use a word perceived to be fashionable vs. (b) flirting with racism. It's hard for me to see how anybody would think that (a) is weighty enough to stack up against (b). But the very fact that it's become a question at all might be an indicator of progress.
   I don't really see that the word in question is a completely special case, actually. My own view is that it's analogous to e.g. 'asshole' and similar insults. When you apply such words to your friends, they're terms of endearment. When you you apply them to non-friends, they're insults. The former fact is basically parasitic on the latter fact. You apply the term 'asshole' to your friends ironically. You apply the term 'asshole' to non-friends straight.


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