This week opened with a roar thanks to the Washington Post's analysis of the word "n*****," and that roar has yet to subside thanks in part to journalist Piers Morgan.
In an essay written for the Daily Mail, Morgan argued that the only way the word will lose its magnitude is if African-Americans stop using it:
The reason it is so ingrained in pop culture is that many blacks, especially young blacks reared to the soundtrack of N-word splattered rap music, use it in an ironic way.
They’re aware of its history; they know from their parents and grandparents that arrogant, dumb, racist whites used it as a wicked, derogatory insult against their black slave forebears. And they enjoy the freedom of being able to say it now in the knowledge that it’s become taboo for whites to do so.
I understand this, and empathise.
It’s the same ironic reason many gays call each other ‘f****ts’, why supporters of an English football team called Tottenham Hotspur, which has a large Jewish following, call each other ‘Y*ds’, and why some ardent feminists like to use the word ‘C**t’ with impunity.
I get it.
But I don’t like it.
And this is why: it doesn’t work. It has the complete opposite effect to the one that I imagine everyone who does this imagines it will have.
Far from ‘owning’ these words, seizing back control with the use of them, I believe it merely serves to empower those who wish to deploy them abusively - and encourage them to continue doing so.
Your average dim-witted, foul-mouthed bigot – and there are plenty of them as Twitter can attest – thinks: ‘If they use it, why can’t I?’
They hear African-Americans say the N-word to each other and claim victory: ‘See, that’s what they even call themselves!'
It’s the twisted, horrible mind-set of the wretchedly ignorant.
Is Morgan wrong? Not quite, but what he proposes in unrealistic. This solution is suggested often, but never gets any more pragmatic. Then there's the fact that it's beside the point, but nevermind that for the moment.
What's more, Morgan's opinion is somewhere near the top of a list of "pundits" who the public doesn't want to hear speak on the matter. Unsurprisingly, people reacted to Morgan's words on Twitter. Morgan, of course, reacted to their reactions.
We both know you read it > RT @shani_o things i will do before reading piers morgan’s column on the n-word 1. literally anything else— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) November 10, 2014
wait, this is awesome. you can just tweet things at @piersmorgan and he'll write back.— Rembert Browne (@rembert) November 10, 2014
please RT @andreagrimes: what if we just never piers morgan ever again— Miranda (@mirandale1gh) November 10, 2014
Piers Morgan wrote to black people, telling us to do something to get whites to stop being racist, instead of just telling whites to stop.— Chippa Jones (@ChrisTheFlyest) November 10, 2014
A reminder: It's still only Monday.
[via Daily Mail]