Thursday, March 29, 2007

sum-n-saf half - black star line edition

oh yes, kids, sum-n-saf are back like a bad case of genital warts. (you can't freeze us off, suckas!) if our previous ignorant yet intelligent irreverence wasn't enough to hold you down, we got another list for that ass. this time, we yet again pummel headwraps and wrapper sympathizers with a list of why neither one of us is going back to africa. please note: we're spitting dy-lan-like venom (comma) yo. saf's hormones are all out of wack, and sum, well, sum is just empathizing with saf.

nigga, it's hot.

who wants to mine for their own diamonds?

i doubt i can throw some d's on an elephant, camel, or giraffe.

too old to get into the oprah winfrey leadership academy.

if i wanna catch the hiv, i'll just go to baltimore.

i like my white oppression in house...or i want white only oppression.

nigga, for real…it's like, equatorial hot, not just down south, family reunion hot…

i take enough intra-racial bullshit off american blacks as it is ("you're just a jigaboo, tryin' to find somethin' to do…")

i don't even like the beach, nigga, so the fuck am i going to do with a desert?

monkeys like to hurl their shit at niggas, and i just paid $40 for this touch-up.

if i want a sankofa experience, i'll just go back to the mcdonald's in my old neighborhood and ask for my high school job back.

the only thing worse than a nigga with a gun is a starving nigga with a gun.

i don't have to have my meals life-flighted in the us.

malaria may be manageable nowadays, but it still ain't no hoe.

i have to imagine that a bunch of women that haven't had a clitoral orgasm in, i don't know, their entire life are not going to be the friendliest bunch of beyotches you'll ever meet.

honestly, i don't even really fuck with niggas all like that.

i ain't dancing around topless for anybody unless they got some dollars for that ass.

i don't care what anybody says – gnu meat does NOT taste like chicken.

no, seriously, nigga. it's hot. like wear a fig-leaf hot. not just martin luther king fan hot.

if i gotta choose between meeting bono in person, or having that nigga's ipod, i'ma go with the ipod. call me limewi(red).

nigga, i saw the last king of scotland, and the only bitch worth fuckin' was kerry washington--an american negress. you can say it's self-hatred. i call it a sincere appreciation for the miscegenation that has created the western aesthetic.

listen, i love lionel richie as much as anyone (the nigga had hits), but for memyselfpersonally, i don't ever wanna be a part of nothing that prompts niggas to get together and make a tribute album. not voluntarily, at least.

you call it a famine, i call it compulsory anorexia. tomato...tomahto.

true story: at heathrow airport this nigerian chick got stopped by the dogs because of some food she had in her luggage. now, if this dog is trained to sniff out (force) wmd's, and he stopped her, what the fuck am i s'posed to eat?

let me reiterate, i don't fuck with niggas like that.

my mom's dog's name is nala, what else do i need to do to prove my authenticity? get james earl jones to read me segments of roots as a bedtime story?

more sum-n-saf madness:
take 1
take 2
take 3
take 4

language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

call my name: ruminations on the n-word and slave mentality

Admittedly, I've only been tepidly interested in (and mildly dismissive of) the recent move by New York City to request that its residents voluntarily refrain from using the word nigger and, I guess, the word nigga. In the past, I've very clearly stated the position I take in the debate, but I will state again publicly: I do not support a ban of the term nigger or its derivatives; my position has nothing to do with my First Amendment rights.

I concur that the word remains quite dangerous, and that non-Negroes should refrain from using it in mixed company for their own physical safety. (What you utter in the privacy of your own racial group is up to you.) I do not support a ban because, firstly, if I may paraphrase something I've written previously, advocating the removal of a word that is a (large) part of a decidedly "anemic lexicon" is incredibly irresponsible. In a nation already fearful of saying the 'wrong' thing, or of at least having to say sorry once that 'wrong' thing has been confessed, I find that such gestures--symbolic or otherwise-- implicitly impel us to remain dishonest and silent about race in America. This, in my estimation, is about as effective as putting a Band-Aid on a surgical wound. I venture to suggest that true racial healing will only happen once we willingly engage in honest discourse about it, when our interracial conversations resemble our intra-racial ones. Such engagements, I suppose, will necessarily require the use of terms we tend to sweep under the davenport to keep company with loose change and dust bunnies when our best Negro (and White) friends come over for a fried chicken dinner.

Secondly, I quite earnestly believe in the difference between the nigger and nigga. Yes, I'm fully aware of term's linguistic ancestors. I understand, for example, that initially the word had no pejorative connotation; that nigger, perhaps in certain mouths simply meant slave since, in this country at least, slaves were black. Yet I am equally fluent in the myriad of ways the meanings of words transform, that generally "moot" often means "little value" or "frivolous", and that the phrase "begs the question" when used these days very rarely connotes its original rhetorical definition. (Not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good.) By no means is such word transformation limited to terms with no ties to human description. Women use "bitch" and gays use "fag" in and amongst themselves ad nauseum. I am left to wonder, then, if this fight to conflate nigga with nigger stems from the same source that inspires similar folk to intimate in their talk that somehow blacks remain the only oppressed group on the planet or, at least, that we're the ones who have suffered most. (I'm also inclined to believe that supporters of the n-word ban also want to bleach America by removing the names of members of the Confederacy from school buildings and the like. But that's another story.)

One of these fighters was profiled on NPR's All Things Considered the other week. New York City is not the only place to have considered a voluntary censor of (all forms of) the n-word. Tim Gaylord, a resident of New Jersey has made similar efforts. As heard in the report, Gaylord seems to abhor the n-word because it reflects the same self-hatred that might prompt one to get her hair straightened at the local beauty salon. What piqued my interested, however, was Gaylord's response to a 16 year old student's disagreement with his position. Like a lot of young people, the teenager stated that it was okay for Blacks to use the word, and that it more than likely didn't matter whether or not the term was banned. In response, Gaylord said the youngster displays what he calls a "slave mentality." Interesting--this idea of the slave mentality. Admittedly, I've been thinking a bit more about the phrase since I heard the piece on NPR, and I've concluded that perhaps Gaylord is right--but not in the way that he thinks he is.

The more I think about it, the more troubled I am at the idea of "slave mentality" as epithet, for it seems to me that a slave mentality is the very reason I sit in front of my computer typing these words. I do not believe we will ever know the terrorism of slavery, what it must have been like to endure a regime not only designed to oppress, but destroy--and survive it. We are often so glib, almost insouciant in our analysis and present-day discussions of our enslaved predecessors, that I want to throw a copy of Octavia Butler's Kindred at anyone who begins a sentence with, "Well, if I was a slave, I would've..." I refuse to acquiesce to the idea that not hitching a ride on the Underground Railroad was some sort of implicit acceptance of slavery, which would in a generation or two merely manifest itself as some (latent) desire for whiteness. And, I seriously contemplate rejecting the notion that slave mentality is a pithy description of weakness and self-hatred, and a desire to assimilate. The assertion seems a bit too specious for my liking.

Perhaps a slave mentality is the one that made soul food good, created the blues, illustrated for later generations how to turn nigger into nigga. Maybe a slave mentality is the cornerstone to surviving centuries of violence and oppression. Maybe that's why I've never seriously considered trading my surname (or my Adidas) for something that links me to the abstraction that is the Dark Continent. One more reason to resuscitate the term, (American) Negro. Maybe.

Mc... It's my slave name, and I'm keeping it.


language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison