It's been nearly four months since the multi-Oscar award winning, cinematic lightening rod Django Unchained opened nationwide. It met with critical acclaim, social uproar, and sold a lot of tickets. But, it ultimately came and went like all movies, good, bad, overrated (Wes Anderson) and shameful (Tyler Perry) tend to do.
Most notably to me though, is that when the film left theaters the debate and despair it "seemingly" (if we were in person, I'd do ironically dismissive air quotes) engendered went with it.
But not for me. My DVD copy of Django Unchained just arrived and I'm going to individually protest it by never taking it out of the plastic. Thus, creating a silent demonstration of two things: 1) I'm the master now; and 2) How it feels to be held behind nearly invisible, but all-too-real social restraints that prevent full access to the world one occupies.
In other words, I'm going to keep fighting the unnecessary and overly, if not aggressively, sensitive, and ultimately meaningless would-be fight, because someone needs to.
I have a considerable amount of disdain for non-news news, not to be confused with the equally horrible: inaccurate news. I've grown increasingly intolerant of fake outrage and manufactured fervor. So, I'm going all in with this one.
You may ask who am I, or what are my qualifications, to speak on something as timeless and pervasive in American culture and sub-culture. To that I say, "All good questions." But I don't have the time or desire to answer them.
Just know this. I'm black. My parents are black. I'm originally from the south. And I'm black. (Yes, I said, "I'm black" twice.)
I don't take umbrage with Quentin Tarantino, or his studio. I'm not looking to skewer writers, researchers, bloggers, or anyone else who stood up for or against its spaghetti western interpretation, countless acts of violence and representations of abuse, re-imagining of American history, willful omission, or bastardization of slavery's impact on black Americans to this day, or even the potential cultural rights and wrongs of a white man utilizing the N-word, so frequently and so publicly.
I certainly dare not cross my much respected, long suffering black elders, educators and/or keepers of the legacy.
I saw the movie as an artist's vision. An original, daring film that had many more hits than misses and considering the writer/director's history and public persona, I was pleasantly surprised with his tact and respect for the basis of the subject matter.
So, what has me so angry? What do I want to take down?
I'm mad at the N-word itself. I'm mad at the history around it. I'm mad at the idea of who can, or can't say it, and why. I'm mad because it is simultaneously omnipotent and impotent. I'm mad that it is often used as a conversational pronoun. Yet, making light of it is a violation. While accepting its sting is to acquiesce to it. I'm mad that all the arguments around it turn into one-sided history lectures, or shouting matches.
But, I have a solution: Eliminate N-words.
I'm not suggesting people simply stop using that very specific, singular N-word. I'm suggesting we, as a united people of all races, creeds and colors stop using all words that begin with the letter N. We can keep N in the alphabet and it can most certainly be used in other words. It simply can't be the first letter.
I'm not done. Or, better stated, "I've yet to complete that thought."
Along with all N-words, We must reduce the usage of all words beginning with the letters "M" and "O" by a minimum of two-fifths. Because with any cancerous growth, you need to create safe, clean margins around the affected area to minimize the likelihood of recurrence. (And "M" and "O" have stood idly by for far too long.)
Please, don't feel the need to get upset over the cancer reference. I've had tumors. So, not only am I black and eligible to use the N-word, according to the N-word police, I also have an oncologist on speed dial.
So, I'm allowed to comment on all invasive growths, with the exception of those that affect lady parts, because I am not a lady, of course.
Look, I don't know who writes the rules on how black folks, our history, or our present, can be represented in media. I don't know who decided what constitutes political correctness, or how PC should be applied to any group. However, I do know none of it seems to be working, for anyone.
People are talking more -- about talking more about race relations without actually talking to one another about race relations. It is surely a complicated, tangled, potentially hurtful, yet endlessly worthwhile road to travel.
And since a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, may this be step #1. Let the healing begin.