Saturday, February 18, 2006

Nigga, Please!

So this white teacher called his black student a "nigga."

Here's a video of the original news story.

This is the followup story.

And this is a bit of brilliantly stupid internet tampering.

Now, I understand this is the kind of stupid thing that sparks heated debates, and I can kind of understand why. In this case, the word in question, although just a word, has a very dense history behind it. The phrase was, at one time, a very negative, hurtful one and, at least in one form, still is.

The big difference (and this is particularly absurd when you really consider it) is that of either ending the word with an "a" or an "er." The teacher in this case used, according to him, the "a" variation. His version of the story is that the student used the word first and he responded back with it, sort instinctively (his way of saying it was it was what he was "trained" to do which just makes him look kind of stupid (who is trained a specific way to insult?) but I think I get what he was aiming for). The kid's version of the story is that he "doesn't use that word and never uses that word and his friends know he doesn't use that word" and the teacher just said it.

I know I'm not the only one with the opinion I have on this story but I'm gonna share it anyway. For controversy!!! I gotsta get mine!

The only reason this is a real issue is because the teacher was a white guy and the student was black. Certainly, a black teacher using it could be in danger of someone reporting him simply because a teacher shouldn't be using that sort of slang in general but the likelihood of it is far less. This is a rather stupid technicality. The notion of it is that it's okay for black people to say it, but not white people. You could just as easily apply the same theory to any other racial slur but it's less frequent that Spanish people go around calling each other "spics" and Italians calling each other "wops."

Plus, this is technically not a racial slur anymore by way of the exchange of "er" for "a." Therefore, we have a bit of a paradox on our hands. A word had been edited slightly, thereby officially deeming it a casual term rather than something offensive but, wait, no! If a white person says it, it IS racism again! Shame!

The thing is, the teacher should have been more careful about what he said and should have realized that (considering his whiteness), he'd maybe be getting himself into trouble (and he probably only made it worse by saying it repeatedly on the news too).

The teacher hardly comes off as a bad guy. I think it's highly unlikely he just called his student any form of "nigg" out of nowhere. I think it's far more likely that the student really did say it, maybe not directly to the teacher but the teacher probably did overhear him saying that. I just know from experience that it's a very common term with the youth these days! I hear both black and white kids saying it (as the average white kid these days is just a poor facsimile of a black kid) and unless this kid is a real diamond in the rough, I think he must just have a report due or something to want to get this poor guy fired or just thinks there's a principle here he's obligated to uphold the validity of.

Either way, it's unfortunate that something this tiny is sparking such a huge amount of controversy. Now, I wouldn't call it tiny if the word "nigger" was completely out of our venacular these days but the fact of the matter is, it gets used (or a form of it does anyway) all the time. I personally think that if people don't want an offensive word being used by certain groups, they shouldn't be spreading it around themselves. That way it's just an offensive word and the rules about using it or not don't get all hazy. In my mind, someone getting mad at someone else for using a word that they themselves use is a case of the pot calling the kettle nigga. Sorry, I just wanted to say that.

I do have to admit one thing, though. The teacher does seem to be a little bit nuts. What's with him (in the followup story) writing a letter referring to himself in the third person and drawing red N's on his hands (something completely unaddressed by the reporter)? I kind of just think he's annoyed and flustered about what a big deal is being made over something so silly, but he's still a bit wacky for sure. Also, they keep mentioning that he's being investigated for an unrelated issue. I'm very curious as to what this might be.

2 Comments:

Philena Rush said...

Woooooo.. That's a trip. Perfect for Black History Month. But I don't personally think he was being bogus about it, but I do agree with you, he seems a lit strange, but being an honor english teacher, I'm sure he was just trying to make a point. I bet he is a great teacher, and Dr. MLK probably would had high respects for the man. But think about this, we have it in our rap music so heavily, that to say whites can't say the word at all means they can't sing our songs either. No one's going to go back to the word "negro" either, that's lame.

4:02 PM  
Joeplork said...

Yeah, I actually commented on this for, like, ever on the same entry back at writingup and music eventually entered the discussion. Incidentally this blog is so far just the same crap from over there (except later)! Eventually I think I'll be posting two different blogs in both places, though, I think...I dunno.

11:56 PM  

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