Sunday, March 3, 2019

Redefining the 'N' Word

Jimi Hendrix was a n*gga
Jesus Christ and grandma, too
Jackson Pollock was a nigga
Nigga, nigga, nigga, nigga
Nigga, nigga, nigga
Outside of society, they're waitin' for me

Outside of society, if you're looking
That's where you'll find me
Outside of society, they're waitin' for me
Outside of society

-Rock n Roll Nigger, Patti Smith

Are there any niggers here tonight? Could you turn on the house lights, please, and could the waiters and waitresses just stop serving, just for a second? And turn off this spot. Now what did he say? "Are there any niggers here tonight?" I know there's one nigger, because I see him back there working. Let's see, there's two niggers. And between those two niggers sits a kike. And there's another kike— that's two kikes and three niggers. And there's a spic. Right? Hmm? There's another spic. Ooh, there's a wop; there's a polack; and, oh, a couple of greaseballs. And there's three lace-curtain Irish micks. And there's one, hip, thick, hunky, funky, boogie. Boogie boogie. Mm-hmm. I got three kikes here, do I hear five kikes? I got five kikes, do I hear six spics, I got six spics, do I hear seven niggers? I got seven niggers. Sold American. I pass with seven niggers, six spics, five micks, four kikes, three guineas, and one wop. Well, I was just trying to make a point, and that is that it's the suppression of the word that gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness. Dig: if President Kennedy would just go on television, and say, "I would like to introduce you to all the niggers in my cabinet," and if he'd just say "nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger" to every nigger he saw, "boogie boogie boogie boogie boogie," "nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger" 'til nigger didn't mean anything anymore, then you could never make some six-year-old black kid cry because somebody called him a nigger at school.

-Swear to tell the truth, Lenny Bruce

I grew up in a pretty close minded community, where the word inappropriate was tossed around a lot to excuse generally totalitarian behavior to young children with common sense. Don't stand for the Pledge? That's inappropriate. Don't kneel for Father Diddlesmore's fiftieth homily? That's inappropriate. Don't maintain traditional gender performance? That's inappropriate. Speak up for yourself? That's inappropriate. Saying a lot of things was inappropriate and I've always had a lot to say. Me and my big mouth were consistently inappropriate, but try as they might, all the rapacious priests and ruler stroking nuns in Pennsylvania couldn't contain the feisty inner bitch that hid in my mouth until she was ready to come out. So I guess it should come as little surprise to anyone that once I finally lapsed from that putrid pederast factory, I assumed freedom of speech as my new religion, with malcontents like Patti Smith and Lenny Bruce as my saints.

I have plenty of contrarian positions, I can't even stick to one gender for more than five minutes, but there are two positions on which I am downright dogmatic, and that's my total objection to war and censorship. As a thesaurus groping gonzo autodidact, my love for words is practically a sexual fetish; big words, small words, "good" words, "bad" words, I pretty much use them all. I'm pretty sure that I've called Donald Trump a cunt at least once a day since his inauguration, and I'm pretty proud of that guesstimation. But if there is one word that affords me more grief than any other, it's the word that only needs one letter. The word that begins and many times ends with the letter N. I don't use it often in my work but when I do it seems to upset people.

And it should. Nigger is a word with a lot of vile baggage and should never be taken lightly. It was created with the express purpose of dehumanizing and degrading an entire continent's worth of people so as to make it just that much easier for pale skinned oligarchs to justify their wholesale slaughter and enslavement. Over time the word has evolved, as many words do, and been righteously repossessed by its very victims as a term of endearment and comradery, though many black people continue to disdain its use even within their own community. As a general rule of thumb, I try not to say things about people that I wouldn't be comfortable saying to their face and since I don't feel comfortable dropping the N-bomb around my handful of black friends here in Trump Country, I generally avoid saying it. So why then do I occasionally find myself using it in my writing?

I wont lie to you, dearest motherfuckers, that's not my style, a part of it is provocation. Nigger is a word so visceral that it commands attention like few others, and as a muckraking journalist who writes primarily to incite, it can be an indispensable weapon. The catch is that I almost exclusively use the word to incite white people. Unlike the childish provocations of the Alt-Right, I use words like nigger and faggot with the intention of bringing poor people together rather than segregating them against each other. The best example of this, the one that always stands out in my mind, was something I wrote years ago in response to the racially primed chaos of Charlottesville. Sickened by the spectacle of poor people brutalizing other poor people while President Cuntface and his finger wagging enablers in the legacy media used their pain to push their own divisive agendas, the best advice I could shore up for both ends of the melee is that we are all niggers and faggots in the eyes of the One Percent. Like my patron saints, Patti and Lenny, I sought to redefine these words to fit the turbulence of the times. As a queer person, I sought to welcome even the very whitest of trash to embrace their new status as veritable faggots in the growing ranks of a post-empire proletariat, rather than clinging to a rapidly diminishing sense of privilege.

But who am I as a "White" person to invite people that happen to share my shade to embrace their symbolic niggerdom? Well, for one thing, I don't identify as white. When I walk into your average local honky-tonk, the people there, my supposed people, don't see one of their own. They don't see white, they see tranny and they see faggot and this has been the case long before I came out. Even as an essentially genderless child, people, most of them white, could smell the queer on me. Oswald Spengler himself, one of the brighter bulbs of nationalist thought, observed that race wasn't defined by the blood and soil that the nitwits who often bandy about his name prize, race is about common culture and values, and queerness is defined by a total rejection of puritanical, white, Anglo-Saxon values. So when people ask me what race I am, I tell them queer.

Even when people press me about my ethnicity, I don't answer white, I answer Irish Catholic, a race of people who weren't even considered white by their European neighbors for most of their existence. In fact, when they first came to this country during the famines, they were regularly derided by the white Protestant class as white niggers, a term still in regular circulation among Ulster Loyalists in occupied Northern Ireland. The Micks only became white when they embraced the very culture and values that I'm biologically programmed as a queer person to reject. In the eyes of the white establishment, a faggot is little more than a squishy pink nigger and a pauper is only as white as their devotion to the company line.

So does this mean I'm "allowed" to say the dreaded 'N'. No, in a free society we should all be free to say whatever the fuck we want and define ourselves how ever the fuck we want. History be damned, there are no bad and good words. Language isn't a science, it's an art that shifts over time with culture. I can't know what it's like to here that word as a black person, but I can definitely relate to being made to feel like the white man's bitch and I have a feeling that a growing class of increasingly poor white people can relate. If I can convince these deplorables that they are niggers and faggots too and that their liberation as well as ours rests in the wholesale rejection of their own waning privilege, then White Supremacy is truly, finally, fucked.

If that's inappropriate, then so be it. You'll have to forgive me of my trespasses, dearest motherfuckers. After all, I am a faggot. Inappropriate is part of our culture.

Peace, Love, & Empathy- CH

Soundtrack; songs that influenced this post

*  Rock n Roll Nigger by Patti Smith
*  Express Yourself by NWA
*  Los Angeles by X
*  The Underside of Power by Algiers
*  Woman is the Nigger of the World by John Lennon and Yoko Ono
*  Wolf Like Me by TV on the Radio
*  Rock n Roll Nigger by Marilyn Manson
*  List of Demands (Reparations) by Saul Williams
*  Holiday in Cambodia by Dead Kennedys
*  Oliver's Army by Elvis Costello
*  Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry

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