Wednesday, September 28, 2005

N-Word is appopriate when...?, Part MCMLXX

Yet another graphic demonstration that America still isn't ready for a serious discussion about race... A racuous occurred on a Florida campus when a student newspaper ran a political cartoon (Explosion Over the N-Word) where Kanye West is dressed down by Condi Rice, who tells him "Nigga please..."

A second version of the cartoon has the Rice character explaining in a little more detail for the knotheads who didn't get the point the first time:

"As per the cultural standard of African-American entertainers deriding each other using a racial and/or ethnic context, I would like to address you in the same way. You are a rapper who constantly uses terminology denigrating to the African-American community. I am an African-American and close friends with President Bush; hence, Bush does not hate black people. Please."

This should have been obvious from the first version of the cartoon but it wasn't to some. Is it too much of a stretch to understand that N-word has assorted connotations? Remember what the initials of rap group N.W.A. stood for or how often the word is used in rap lyrics (including Kanye's)? The cartoon is a racial commentary but the message is "Get real!" and not some name-calling. But since this is such a volatile subject, the mere presence of the word "nigga" holds out the specter of racism. It's no surprise that our government can't have a serious dialog about race but when it also can't happen at a college campus (which is all about learning, right?), we're in trouble. If there's something we hopefully learned from the aftermath of Katrina, it's that the racial (and poverty) divide in America is still high and it's not going away. Until we can openly take about these issues, it's going to stay as bad as it is, if not get worse.

One thing to note about the cartoon itself is its message. Basically, it's taking the side that Kanye was wrong, using Condi as prove that he's full of shit. Could it be that some people also found the 'toon objectionable because they agreed with Kanye? It makes sense as "nigga" is a pretty un-P.C. term for a publication. Also note that Kanye is literally holding out a large race card with a picture of himself as a joker on it. It's easy to see where the cartoonist's sympathy lies.

Personally, I half-agree with Kanye. If I had to frame it more precisely, I'd say "George Bush doesn't care about black people (or anyone) who doesn't support his policies and his admin have made moves that are hostile to minorities (i.e. their anti-affirmative action stand)." But then again, that doesn't have the resonance of what Kanye said, does it?


Blogger blackmail is my life said...

Not only was it good T.V. it was a demonstration that polemics and polemicists are divisive and intriguing elements conspicuously lacking in American political life and are hysterically absent in normal politics (i.e. voting.)If there were ever a way to jumpstart discussion about poverty and race again in America, this was it. Unfortunately, by the time this happened, the Democratic Party had found a way to silence the Black Caucus and the Progressive Caucus. So much for having a message and an identity!

10:00 AM  
Blogger Perfect Sound Forever said...

As another indication of how far we still need to go about race relations in the States, see this disturbing article: Still Separate, Still Unequal: America's Educational Apartheid

10:02 AM  

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