N-Word Reverie - The Jose Vilson

N-Word Reverie

July 15, 2007

This is what I was feeling last week. Before you judge, ask from whence it came. Hope y’all like …

“N-Word Reverie” by Jose Vilson © 2007

They buried the n-word yesterday
The National Association for the Advancement of People Who Are Often Defined As and Often Call Themselves The N-Word
gave the last rites and buried the n-word
With n-words praising the move and others dismaying it
IT made me wonder if the n-word that came up with the idea
Sent out a memo to its constituents
Held a forum on it
Had a jury of the n-word’s own peers to decide
Whether to execute or execute it
If not, then, what is the procedure for impeachment and disarmament
of those who’ve lost such a touch with their people
It does whatever it wants like
Wage wars,
Distribute tax monies improperly
Represent the interests of the rich, white, Protestant minority
Who really has the authority?
And how do we expect to descent upon the power of this small collective’s oppression
When we mirror the oppressors?
And what will NYC do to me for using the n-word that Bloomiani hasn’t tried already?
Use it against me?
Libel me?
Lower my wages as a city employee?
Ticket me?
Support assassins who shoot me up after I dropped my wallet?
Push me into a black van with the rest of the disobedient?
Maybe I can release my Cheneys,
And get a Libby
By Scooting and commuting to the nearest
Deposit box and writing a BIG ASS CHECK
For the entire teacher salary I make to educate kids to empower themselves as more than second-class citizens
Dust off doors for them that they hadn’t seen
Hadn’t dreamed
That a racial epithet would define who they will be
Is beyond me
The root is not the rappers, R&B artists, and comedians constantly using it in their shuffle-feet records
It’s not even Imus and Michael Richards using it in public view than blaming it on aforementioned musicians
Not Paris Hilton using it in her greenlit videos published all over YouTube
And it’s not even the common underrepresented youth
The poor Latinos, Asians, or Black kids
Or that one poor White kid who listens to Wu-Tang and hangs out with the rest of us
It’s the conditions that still exist that gave birth to the word
It’s not I don’t think it’s a powerful word
It’s that the web of power and deceit continues to exist
Whether we use the word or not
So let the n-word die off
Not from martyrdom but from sheer powerlessness
True advancement instead of this foolishness
Let this Bush burn and call it a liar
Dancing to its cackles,
Come around the bonfire
Celebrate the incineration of an idea much more powerful
Culminating in a word I’d be more prepared to fight for
And die for
Freedom …

peace

p.s. – Bam’s got a good perspective on this as well. These minds definitely think alike.

This post was written by...

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

For more about me, read here.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

ej July 15, 2007 at 12:24 pm

*bravo!!!!!* I totally agree; I especially liked this:

So let the n-word die off
Not from martyrdom but from sheer powerlessness
True advancement instead of this foolishness

I am speaking in general here but if my grandmother heard me using “the n-word”, she would turn in her grave. We need to keep in mind that “self empowerment by disempowerment” is nothing but a sad excuse. We are not taking the power out of the word by consistently using it. In fact, we are ingraining it into our subconscious—as much as we scream about “rising up”, we wont do that until we use an elevated word to describe ourselves…our children will believe that they represent the true meaning of the word; a person regarded as contemptible, inferior, or ignorant.

Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? Why does it seem that the majority of Black and Latin people find this a term of endearment? It saddens me that we still use it and think its okay…you don’t hear White’s calling each other “cracker” or Latin’s calling each other “spick”. No matter how “down” people of other cultures think they are, that should NEVER give them license to use it. I do not agree with how hip-hop culture has given “permission” for people to be comfortable with using a derogatory word that was used to oppress us and demote us to something lower than the fecal matter of a dog…

I will now get off of my soap box.

Reply

Tricia July 15, 2007 at 1:41 pm

You hit the nail on the head with this one homie. On point. People make a big to-do with the “burying” of the n-word but it’s not the word itself that’s the issue, but the history of hate, the negativity, etc. that it represents… that it will continue to represent regardless of who wants to “bury” it… it was a symbolic gesture that meant absolutely nothing as far as I’m concerned. You cannot just bury our history, you cannot just bury the hate. I could really go on about this…

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AngelaMichelle July 15, 2007 at 10:17 pm

mucho applause mr. v!

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LuzMaria July 16, 2007 at 10:44 am

Thank you. This writing is extremely powerful and very important. Day in and day out, I hear my kids using the n-word and they have no idea or concept of the meaning of this word. They do not understand the history behind it and rerpeat the n-word because this word has become somehow infused in their daily communication and interaction with others. My students who are either first generation or immigrants from Latin American countries use the n-word because they are repeating what they hear from their peers and the media. Instead of ignoring it, I address it and make it part of my lessons and also speak to them informally. They claim to be “tortured” by my preaching but it this year it finally hit home for some of them. Even though they were sixth graders, I printed out the Jim Crow Laws out for them and we read and discussed them. Some of them shared stories and experiences about forms of prejudice they have encountered and/or their families. But it wasn’t until they read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, that my students became offended and upset when the n-word was part of the dialogue among the characters. The implications the n-word had throughout the book allowed for us to really have authentic conversations about this word. Even though there were a handful of students that still used the n-word, the majority of them stopped or self-edited when interacting among their peers. Or there were other studets who would “shout out” their peers when using this word because it was offensive. Taje’s comeback was classic: “Don’t you have any respect for yourself? If you don’t, why do you think others will respect you, fool.”

Mr. V-thank you.

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NYC Educator July 16, 2007 at 5:44 pm

Where I grew up there were n-words for just about everyone. It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from, but someone was sure to hate you for it. They’ve been burying the n-word and all those other words all my life. I’m afraid it’ll take a long time to complete the task.

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Tricia July 16, 2007 at 9:24 pm

ryc: i don’t see where u linked it but no matter. i really do appreciate the love/feedback homie!!

Reply

Tricia July 16, 2007 at 9:25 pm

oh ignore my comment. i see the link. ;-)

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Shonte July 17, 2007 at 12:54 am

Damn Jose,
You couldn’t have said it better. Thanks for the enlightenment.

Reply

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