The Bigger Issue

11/28/2006 06:42 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

After reading some of the responses to my article "Apology Not
", I felt compelled to write on a broader topic. But before I get
into that, there are a few responses I would like to address. First, the
two recipients of Richards' verbal attack retaining of council have
drawn countless objections. Many contest that this isn't the proper
form of retribution. Honestly, I can't say that I disagree. Now, if
they sue Richards, use the money to pay for the legal representation and
whatever various court fees, and then donate the rest to charity, then
they proved their point. I know we live in a very litigious society, but
maybe that's not the best approach. I do however think that he should
face some form of punishment. Secondly, I was not trying to plug my
book. Nobody really reads poetry anyway;
it's just something I like to
do. Trust me, if I really wanted to rack up sells I wouldn't have
chosen a book of poetry. Thirdly, why is it that so many want to call for
black people to simply move past Richards' comments and basically
forget about the entire ordeal? One blogger said I was wrong for holding
this against him and then quoted Dr. King on me. I'm not calling for
"his head on a platter", or "a chunk of his side" but some things
aren't that easy to move past. Maybe they don't understand the
seriousness or deep hatred of his comments. That being said, I know that as
a Christian I am suppose to forgive him in that if Jesus can forgive me
for my sins, who am I to not forgive anyone else. But what do you do
when that person doesn't appear to be sincere? Do you forgive them
anyway? I don't know. Lastly there were a slew of comments made
regarding black people's constant use of this word. Apparently, this brings
about a certain level of confusion.

It is well concluded that Richards is a racist, so we can leave that
alone. No amount of apologies can make up for his outburst. I'm sure he
will never have a public eruption like that again. But rather will
confine his racist rants to the privacy of his own home. But there is a
bigger issue, and that is dealing with this "N Word". I constantly find
myself asking why so many black people constantly use this word. What
we heard from the mouth of Richards was the way this word was meant to
be used. I have heard young white kids referring to each other as this
word. Currently, this word is thrown around as if everyone has forgotten
about the history of it. For no one to have a problem with Mark
Whalberg easily saying it in the movies "Four Brothas" or the recent
"The Departed", or for Quentin Tarantino to have it used with rapid fire
in Pulp Fiction tells me that people are
starting to become far too
comfortable with it. They don't even bleep it out on USA anymore. This
word should never become socially acceptable, nor should it be
tolerated. There is no other way that it should be interpreted or utilized.
I'm only see one way to view a swastika or a confederate flag, but I

Here in lies the dichotomy. Why then do so many black people constantly
use this word with absolutely no restrain or hesitation. Randall
Kennedy, well respected scholar, dedicated an entire book to the history of
the word, and then concluded that "we can change the word from a
negative to a positive appellation". Various discussions and forums have
been held in the black community on the use of this word. Growing up,
anybody who knew me knew not to use that word in my presence because they
were going to get a long winded
speech about the reasons why they
shouldn't use it. Even now, I constantly correct anyone who uses it and I
don't tolerate anyone no matter who it is to refer to me personally
with that word. I am disgusted every time I hear black people using it
especially in the presence of white people. Two summers ago at a Seeds
Of Peace Camp, Dave Chapelle did a routine, and I had to ask him how
does he feel comfortable throwing that word around and making jokes
involving that word to a room full of white people. I was just watching the
Comic Relief 2006 and cringed at Mike Epps' continued use of the
word, to a mostly white audience. I have nothing but respect for them, and
any of my other black brothas and sisters who have lost the real
meaning and importance of this word I just disagree with their constant usage
of something that was meant for nothing but evil. They all use Richard
Pryor as the example of the pioneer who
consistently used the word.
Understandably they follow his example in that he was and always will be
one the best if not the best stand up comics ever. But they leave out
the part where he proclaimed that he was wrong. After a trip to Africa
enlightened him, Richard Pryor swore on stage never to use the word
again. That word was created to annihilate us as a people. There were no
ulterior motives, solely hate and destruction. I've heard all of the
arguments. From transforming it into a term of endearment, forming some
non-derogatory version, to the constant usage of the word robbing it of
its power, to different spellings meaning different things, and each
one is equally ridiculous. It begs the question, why would I make their
hate suit me? It is completely absurd to the point of racial treason to
disrespect our ancestors and employ a word that was used to oppress
their minds, bodies, and souls. In conclusion, as
deplorable and
disgusting as it is for black people to use this term, that in no way deems it
acceptable for any white person to ever let that word come out of their
mouths. At the same, I do understand the dichotomy.

An excerpt from a poem entitled "The N Word"

Accepting the unacceptable

Our oppressors' dream should have been deemed impossible

How can we fail to reject their views of our second class existence?

Seeing our self worth through their eyes

Embracing a word aimed to teach us to despise our own reflection

Their whips have scarred our minds as well as our backs

If we don't respect ourselves how can we expect anyone else to?

Even educated fools should be smarter than that