I'll try to be brief... ish.
"Me with my nigga @LenaDunham of @HBOGirls - I love this beyotch!!"
So, you get it.
This tweet caught like wildfire on the internet machine. Some were up in arms, some were coming to Lisa's defense, others felt like Lena Dunham was to blame because she'd said nothing for days -- kind of the "silence-is-acceptance" theory. My friends ranged from offended to mildly annoyed.
I, on the other hand, couldn't make myself give a piece of a damn about it. I couldn't make myself care. I'm so exhausted by the debate over whether the word's use always implies hate and vitriol, or if it's a colloquial term of endearment that's harmless. I'm tired of discussion around whether or not its history still has implications today versus the idea that its power has been taken back. I just. Don't. Care.
I remember the first time I felt this way was back a few years ago: a group of black leaders hosted a funeral for the word in a ceremony led by the NAACP. The idea was to bury the word, thereby (seemingly) ending its use. Profound.
Somehow, it seems the word's burial wasn't for long. Raised from the dead, the word seems to live on, thrive even. I don't know if the world didn't get the memo or what, but it seems the idea that we could no longer use this word didn't get out.
This gets on my nerves, in the most nonchalant of ways. I just don't care.
We give so much power to the word "nigga." The response is almost beginning to start to feel disingenuous. I'm starting to feel like we get upset because we are told we should be, feel like we're supposed to, or something somewhere in between.
To be clear, when I say "we," I don't mean black people, exclusively. I do mean to include black people, but also white people, all other ethnicities, the media, and everyone that doesn't fit under my demographic umbrella.
I'm tired of referring to "nigga/nigger" as "the 'N' word" as if saying it that way changes what the word is, whether or not you recognize it, or if it means anything. I'm tired of it. I'm so tired of it.
Why don't we start having discussion about how we should let it go. Let's give up the anger, the pain, the increased heart-rate around the word. And let's extend it beyond just this word, let's let people be stupid when they want to say stupid things, and just be happy with our own lives. Let's focus on our own language; let's think about the way we use our words, whether the way we syntactically craft our statements and ideas and the ways they'll be presented. Let's be thoughtful about the phrases, words, and insinuations we offer in our conversations, debates, and exchanges and how they could be received.
Now, I must say, I don't believe in telling people what they can and can't or should and shan't say but, I will offer to non-black people who ask about whether or not it's OK to say the word and why: your use of the word makes people uncomfortable. Period. While I think I could end there, I'll add that you can obviously say whatever you want, but know that people will respond. People will likely be upset about it, they'll receive it as either racist or as simply trying to get a rise out of them.
Some will undoubtedly name my disposition "gleeful ignorance," I make the choice to call it "choosing my battles." When it comes time for the battle to see more faces of color in media: I'm down. When the discussion turns to equality for everyone regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability and the like: I'm there. When it's time for us to debate about whether or not Beyoncé is way, the truth, and the light: I've got my gloves on.
All in all, while I say I don't really care about this word, I do acknowledge both that I am in the minority and that I don't think everyone should just be throwing it around willy nilly (the technical term). I also don't think one should read this as a pass to be rude, racist, or otherwise offensive. A friend suggested that I ask my non-black reader "why do you want to say the word? where does the desire come from?" What does it mean to you?
Just be careful with the word, not because it hurts or always angers me, but because of what it incites.
See, Lisa Lampanelli. Oh and the funeral.
But then again, what do I know? (Apparently, not how to be brief.)
Follow Jarrett Hill on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JarrettHill