Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rev. Jackson calls Obama a “nigger”


Recently Jesse Jackson made derogatory statements about presidential hopeful Barack Obama on the FOX Network. Now it’s being reported Jackson said more than what was initially reported. Jackson is believed to have called Obama, “A no good, half-breed nigger.”

This situation is very unfortunate. First off, Jackson should have reframed from such statements. If that’s something he needed to say he should have taken confronted Obama face to face in private.

Jackson clearly has provided fuel for the media pit two African Americans against one another but I urge you to look beyond the obvious.

I think this is a good opportunity to engage in dialogue about the word “nigger” and put it in its proper context. To me it’s not about Jackson calling Obama a nigger-it’s about how the word was utilized in Colonial America and beyond.

In the early 1600’s in Virginia Anglo-Saxon Europeans began referring to imported Africans as niggers. When they began importing natives for indentured servitude and eventually full-fledged bondage they weren’t referred to by their given African names-they were confiscated. Therefore the word nigger was substituted for their given names. The latter endured for centuries.

Why isn’t the media talking about that?

Today anytime a white person utters the word “nigger” they are vilified for using it, and they should: but now we have a situation where a prominent African Americans refers to the other as a nigger.

Is there a double-standard?

White racists historically have used the word “nigger” as a tool to destroy the collective psyche of African Americans. What African Americans have done overtime is modify the meaning of the word to make it acceptable within the community where they live. Largely the word is used in an endearing fashion which reflects a strong bond and or friendship. Jackson surely didn’t mean it in an endearing fashion.

In sixth grade, while waiting in line to get a drink of water a white kid cut me in line and said, “Get out of the way nigger!” All of the other students, mostly white, heard it and the teacher did nothing. The words hurt. I took matters into my own hands since the teacher failed to handle it.

You see, that white student felt entitled to cut me in line because I was considered inferior in his eyes. He felt his complexion entitled him to disturb my world: lessons I’m sure he learned from home. But when my African American friends used the word it never made me feel bad because that wasn’t their intention.

What the media is trying to with Jackson’s statements reminds me of the American drug problem. The government allows drugs into the country. Then they disperse them into African American communities for distribution. Once the drugs are in the community the same government allowing the drugs seeks to arrest the people for using the drugs they’re responsible for bringing in the community.

So, how can an African American calling another African American a nigger be a big deal when the media fails to mention who created the word and why?

Hypocrisy.

To me it’s not about Jackson calling Obama a nigger-it’s about America still calling African American niggers without using the word.

Back in the day whites overtly called African Americans a nigger to their face. We’re still being called niggers today but it’s very subtle. It’s like oxygen-you know it’s there, yet you can’t touch it but you certainly can feel it.

African Americans are being called nigger when having to perform on the job four times as hard as whites to be considered average. You’re a nigger when you are harassed by the police because of skin color. You’re a nigger when the judicial system awards you a longer sentence because of race. We’re viewed as niggers when African Americans are stereotypically portrayed in the media by whites. We’re niggers when African Americans account for nearly 70% of the NFL as players yet are kept from ownership opportunities because of skin color.

When you look beyond what’s presented you’ll often arrive at the truth. Mainstream America doesn’t want to go there because they’d have to admit to their collective wrong-doing.

Again, Jackson exercised poor judgment but let’s not forget where the word came from and what “we” mean when we use the word. When you look at this event with an open mind then you can view this situation for what it really is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Ali was one of many black men to defy white America and still succeed. His life serves as an inspiration to me as well.