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BS: Using the N-word.

artbrooks 18 May 06 - 07:00 AM
The Fooles Troupe 18 May 06 - 07:14 AM
Paul Burke 18 May 06 - 07:21 AM
The Fooles Troupe 18 May 06 - 07:31 AM
GUEST 18 May 06 - 07:40 AM
GUEST, a realist 18 May 06 - 08:01 AM
Bobert 18 May 06 - 08:16 AM
Big Phil 18 May 06 - 08:33 AM
Uncle_DaveO 18 May 06 - 10:18 AM
wysiwyg 18 May 06 - 10:28 AM
Clinton Hammond 18 May 06 - 10:32 AM
artbrooks 18 May 06 - 10:47 AM
Janie 18 May 06 - 11:24 AM
Clinton Hammond 18 May 06 - 11:26 AM
GUEST,clairerise 18 May 06 - 11:40 AM
Kaleea 18 May 06 - 11:43 AM
Desdemona 18 May 06 - 11:44 AM
NH Dave 18 May 06 - 11:44 AM
Ebbie 18 May 06 - 12:10 PM
Paul Burke 18 May 06 - 12:29 PM
Uncle_DaveO 18 May 06 - 12:30 PM
katlaughing 18 May 06 - 01:00 PM
michaelr 18 May 06 - 07:46 PM
GUEST,AR282 19 May 06 - 04:41 PM
GUEST,Melani 19 May 06 - 04:49 PM
GUEST,AR282 19 May 06 - 05:13 PM
Azizi 19 May 06 - 05:39 PM
katlaughing 19 May 06 - 05:59 PM
Azizi 19 May 06 - 05:59 PM
CarolC 19 May 06 - 06:12 PM
michaelr 19 May 06 - 06:31 PM
dianavan 19 May 06 - 07:43 PM
artbrooks 19 May 06 - 08:33 PM
GUEST,Misandrist 19 May 06 - 08:58 PM
artbrooks 19 May 06 - 08:59 PM
Peace 19 May 06 - 09:19 PM
dianavan 19 May 06 - 09:33 PM
Peace 19 May 06 - 09:50 PM
Azizi 19 May 06 - 10:39 PM
michaelr 20 May 06 - 12:03 AM
GUEST,thurg 20 May 06 - 02:13 AM
Teribus 20 May 06 - 02:18 AM
Azizi 20 May 06 - 08:49 AM
Geordie-Peorgie 20 May 06 - 12:37 PM
GUEST,thurg 20 May 06 - 02:01 PM
dianavan 20 May 06 - 02:03 PM
Azizi 20 May 06 - 02:24 PM
Azizi 20 May 06 - 02:33 PM
Uncle_DaveO 20 May 06 - 02:40 PM
dianavan 20 May 06 - 03:01 PM
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Subject: BS: Using the N-word.
From: artbrooks
Date: 18 May 06 - 07:00 AM

Part 1: There is a case of assault (register to read) in New York City in which one young man, "white", is accused of hitting another young man, "black", with a baseball bat. It is being tried as a hate crime because the alleged assaulter called his victim a "nigger" in the process. The defense has been quoted as saying that is "is expected to suggest that a young man growing up in a mixed neighborhood in New York City uses "the N word" as a matter of course and that the word no longer carries the racially charged overtones it has historically."

Part 2: Last week we were visited by a relative from Salt Lake who said that she couldn't get into an educational program that she was interested in because "the niggers and the Mormons are getting all of the slots". I went absolutely ballistic, which isn't at all my personal style.

I am pushing 60, and was raised with the understanding that this was an extremely rude word, akin to kike, sheeny, spic and others, and was absolutely not to be used, under any circumstances. And I am entirely aware that at least some urban "blacks"/African-Americans use it toward each other, and it appears in blacksploitation movies, but I see that as a different issue. So my question. Admittedly the Mudcat is a restricted sample, but have times changed to the extent that this word has, or should, return to normal use?


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 18 May 06 - 07:14 AM

Who knows Art?

And sometimes I wonder, just who cares?!!!

:-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Paul Burke
Date: 18 May 06 - 07:21 AM

Unless the defendant can show that it was intended inoffensively, it must be assumed he was using it abusively. After all, you never hear of someone punching someone in the mouth, whilst saying "you no good red-head", or "you *** person with grey-blue eyes", do you?

As for your relative, well I dislike Mormonism as much as the next atheist, but I suspect her of pigeonholing assumptions.

No, stereotyping words with history of discriminatory intention should not be in normal use until the stereotyping and discrimination have stopped so long ago that it no longer carries the baggage. So it's OK to call someone a quaker, or a left-footer (except in Northern Ireland), but Yid, Paki, raghead, nigger etc... no they are definitely offensive. When people use them (barring rare 'safe' circumstances where everyone understands and agrees) they can be taken as INTENDED as offensive.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 18 May 06 - 07:31 AM

So 'fool' is alright nowadays then?

;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: GUEST
Date: 18 May 06 - 07:40 AM

The assault case could be a tough call, though.

Urban youth culture HAS changed the contexts of use of the word nigger, no doubt about it. It is widely used in urban hip hop, spoken word, and 'cool' urban ebonics language contexts, and truly does not carry the negative associations it once did. The African American kids have, in that sense, reclaimed the word within their own culture (though not necessarily the culture of their parents!).

But as far as the legal case goes, you have to understand that one kid of one race beating on another kid of another race with a baseball bat while screaming racial epithets, may or may not have race implications these days, especially in gang related crimes.

The real imbalance is, there isn't an equivalent word which can be used as a racial epithet against white kids. But if the fight was between a member of a predominantly African American gang and a Latino gang or an Asian gang, it wouldn't EVER be prosecuted as a racially motivated hate crime, even though a lot of racism comes into play between those cultural groups.

I figure once the dominant society decides that racism can exist in communities of color towards other communities of color, and starts using the hate crimes laws in accordance with that reality, we'll be making some true progress in race relations in this country.

Until then, I guess will just build fences on the Mexican border, and have the mayor on NO declare he intends to make his city a "No Mexicans" zone.

Hate crimes laws can be used a bit too enthusiastically by over-zealous prosecutors who feel their case may not have a good chance of resulting in conviction of assault (or whatever the charge might be, ie manslaughter, attempted murder), especially in gang related crime where witnesses aren't exactly cooperative.

The Mormons/nigger thing is a no brainer.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: GUEST, a realist
Date: 18 May 06 - 08:01 AM

Paul Burke - I have, in fact, come across people who use terms that mean 'with red/ginger hair' as a term of abuse, and who for some reason feel affronted at the presence of ginger-haired people.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Bobert
Date: 18 May 06 - 08:16 AM

I've commented on this matter in the past on otheer threadas but it comes down to connotation...

When I, as a white person, was called "nigga" by a black when I was working in the jail it was endearing...

But as fir the white guy clubbin' a black and using the word it is far from endearing... Downright hatefull...


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Big Phil
Date: 18 May 06 - 08:33 AM

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but calling will not hurt me..


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 18 May 06 - 10:18 AM

Seems to me that in the baseball bat case one has to consider whether the use of the word (and racial referrent) led or followed the motivation.

Wha????

I mean, did the bat-wielder do the assault BECAUSE of racial animus, or did he have a cause of anger preexisting and independent of race (say because of gang tensions, or because he thought the other had stolen his girl friend, or vandalized his car) and use a handy insult in the course of venting his anger.

In the latter case (if believed by a jury) I don't see it as a hate crime. Unless you see the mere use of the word "nigger" as a hate crime , however much one disapproves of that use (and I don't see it that way.)

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: wysiwyg
Date: 18 May 06 - 10:28 AM

... have times changed to the extent that this word has, or should, return to normal use?

NO.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 18 May 06 - 10:32 AM

Why empower a word to enable it to hurt you at all?

"have times changed to the extent that this word has, or should, return to normal use?"
Define normal....


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: artbrooks
Date: 18 May 06 - 10:47 AM

CH, my intent was to use normal in the sense of usual or common.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Janie
Date: 18 May 06 - 11:24 AM

no


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 18 May 06 - 11:26 AM

Well, I'd say yes then....

Otherwise, you're only granting the word power over you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: GUEST,clairerise
Date: 18 May 06 - 11:40 AM

Unless the defendant can show that it was intended inoffensively, it must be assumed he was using it abusively. After all, you never hear of someone punching someone in the mouth, whilst saying "you no good red-head", or "you *** person with grey-blue eyes", do you?

That means guilty until proven innocent?


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Kaleea
Date: 18 May 06 - 11:43 AM

Living with my 1 1/2 year old neice who is just beginning to learn the importance of language teaches one to pause & think before speaking, especially since she has learned the "n" word in our home--which she is now using--is "no!"


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Desdemona
Date: 18 May 06 - 11:44 AM

Words *do* have a great deal of power, but mostly because we grant it to them. While I deplore racist or any type of pejorative language as a matter of principle, it seems to me that hitting someone with a baseball bat is a pretty clear indication that you don't like them very well! To my mind, taking an action that could conceivably kill another person is inherently "hate"-ful; calling names in the bargain is just adding insult to injury.

~D


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: NH Dave
Date: 18 May 06 - 11:44 AM

Art,
    My take on the situaation is that I'm not black enough to use the word nigger, Irish enough to use the word Paddy, and so on. It is courtesy thing.

    As for your relatives' view of SLC, the city is heavily LDS, and they tend to cooperate with each other, so it is difficult for a Gentile or non-believer to get along. An aquaintance's father ran a struggling grocery store there some years back and complained that he was nearly failing because the people around the store would walk a block to buy from an LDS owned store, rather than but from him, next door.

   This having been said, there has been some ACLU action about the church trying to run protestors off from the streets around the Temple. I think the land was recently deeded to the city, so the issue becomes a freedom of speach on public property issue.

Dave


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Ebbie
Date: 18 May 06 - 12:10 PM

"teaches one to pause & think before speaking, especially since she has learned the "n" word in our home--which she is now using--" Kaleea

I don't understand. Does that mean that we must be careful to not say out loud the words we have been thinking? Doesn't it, rather, behoove us to change what we are thinking?


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Paul Burke
Date: 18 May 06 - 12:29 PM

"That means guilty until proven innocent?"

No, it means that where someone is hitting someone else with a baseball bat, it can safely be assumed that they are not muttering sweet nothings and terms of endearment unless thay can show otherwise.

I muttered jealous oaths, and things,
As I punched him black and bluer,
Then I opens up this manhole cover
And I bungs him down a sewer.

From The Portuguese by ???

A case in point... few would take that song as vicious in intent, even though it has lines like "I don't like Portuguese in general, and in particular I didn't like him". Because in the UK for the last many years, no one has seriously discriminated against Iberians, and we can have jokes like Manuel in Fawlty Towers. But I suspect it could be seen very differently in the current climate in the USA.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 18 May 06 - 12:30 PM

Clairrise said:

Unless the defendant can show that it was intended inoffensively, it must be assumed he was using it abusively. After all, you never hear of someone punching someone in the mouth, whilst saying "you no good red-head", or "you *** person with grey-blue eyes", do you?

That means guilty until proven innocent?


---
I think the previous poster is considering that when a word with so strong a negative connotation there arises a presumption that it was used pejoratively. A presumption like that can, of course, be rebutted and perhaps refuted in a particular case.

As I mentioned earlier, even assuming that "nigger" was used pejoratively doesn't necessarily in itself make the baseball bat assault a hate crime.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: katlaughing
Date: 18 May 06 - 01:00 PM

Words hurt, whether we like to think so or not. That's why we have something called "verbal abuse." That's why a kid who is told they are no good, day in and day out, will have low self-esteem and a hard time through life, without help.

I think Carlos Mencia, comedian with his own show on the Comedy Network, does a good job of using all sorts of no-nos in illustrating how PCness may have gone to far, but his real goal is to teach us all NOT to stereotype, to realise we are just human "beans."

That said, NO, I do not think the N word needs to become common in its usage, again. There are too many right-wing bigots who would leap at the chance to be seen as more legitimate through free-rein in using such language. Plus, I don't want children like my grandchildren to ever be the subject of assholes who would think it was acceptable to call them "niggers." I know there are some anyway, but letting it creep back into everyday language would be a huge step backward, imo. And, that goes for any other racial epithet, too.

kat


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: michaelr
Date: 18 May 06 - 07:46 PM

I'm told that US troops in Iraq commonly refer to Iraqis as "sand niggers".

The N-word is definitely creeping back into general usage - but mainly by blacks themselves. I don't use it, and find it jolting when I hear it.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: GUEST,AR282
Date: 19 May 06 - 04:41 PM

Try being Asian in a country where "gook" "Jap" "Chink" etc are considered perfectly acceptable and if you complain, you're "being too PC."

Remember Bill Parcells talking about plays where the ball one time tries to "sneak" the ball past the line of scrimmage and Parcells said to all the reporters there, "We call them 'Jap plays'--no offense to any Oriental people." Did he lose his job? No. Was he castigated all over the sports pages? No. Did anybody even understand that Parcells' statement equated being a "Jap" with being "sneaky"? No.

Imagine him talking about plays where one team "steals" the ball from the other team and says, "We call them 'nigger plays'--no offense to any colored people." We all know what would have happened.

Not long ago, I was watching some trailer for some WW2 movie with Nicholas Cage and they choose to run him speaking only one line and this was the line: "Killin Japs is the only thing I'm good at." Imagine being white in a predominantly non-white country and you're watching tv and you and your family are greeting by a commercial where a non-white man says, "Killin whites is the only thing I'm good at." I'm not pissed about Cage, he was reciting a line in a WW2 movie, I understand that--it's that this was the only line the commerical used to advertise movie.

Imagine watching a German commercial and a guy says, "Killin kikes is the only thing I'm good at" as a way to get people to watch the show.

At least blacks and Jews have some amount of redress when epithets are spoken about them in public. Asian-American have none. Christ, two white guys once beat a Chinese-American man to death here in Detroit and used the excuse that they thought he was Japanese and netiher went to prison--not for a single day. The judge said, "These are not the kind of men you send to prison." Cold-blooded murderers?? Sure, when they're white and the victim was an unarmed Asian-blooded man whose only crime was to tell them to stop hassling a waitress in a bar. Was Chai Vang, the Hmong man who shot and killed 6 white people in the Minnesota woods for shouting slurs at him, allowed to walk away from it? No. He's in prison. Imagine an Asian-American judge turning him loose saying, "This is not the kind of man you send to prison." Would you consider that overt racism? I would. Would that decision stand? No, it would not and we all know it.

It pisses me off that race relations in this country is just black and white. Like no one else matters. As though whites are this terribly downtrodden minority. It makes me sick.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: GUEST,Melani
Date: 19 May 06 - 04:49 PM

Hugill used the n-word in his book, because that is how he learned the songs--but fortunately, it has the same number of syllables as "sailor," which can easily be substituted. We absolutely do not allow that word at our chantey sings, which we had to explain last year to someone who was into total historical accuracy. But we have recently had a problem with someone who is objecting to much milder terms--specifically "yellow gals"--which most of us do not consider similarly offensive. Though I realize it was used to refer to blacks of mixed parentage, in many cases it's not clear if the singer is describing black, Asian or Latino girls. And often it's used along the lines of "Those yellow gals I do adore, with their shining eyes and long black hair," or something similar, which makes it sound merely descriptive, as well as admiring. And of course a sailor who'd been at sea for a couple of years would have also admired green or purple gals. Any thoughts?


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: GUEST,AR282
Date: 19 May 06 - 05:13 PM

I remember an A.L. Lloyd amd Ewan MacColl doing a song where a verse goes something like: "And who you think was the skipper of her/ row, boys, row/ Why, Bully Hayes, the nigger lover..."

>>But we have recently had a problem with someone who is objecting to much milder terms--specifically "yellow gals"--which most of us do not consider similarly offensive.<<

That's what I'm talking about. It's only bad when it's directed at dark people. It's okay to mock their race when they're lighter.

>>it's not clear if the singer is describing black, Asian or Latino girls. And often it's used along the lines of "Those yellow gals I do adore, with their shining eyes and long black hair," or something similar, which makes it sound merely descriptive, as well as admiring.<<

White men who speak such sentiments are known in the Asian-American community as "asiaphiles" and they are considered the lowest of the low and for good reason--they chase after any Asian girl and I mean ANY Asian girl. I've had white guys tell me how they lust after "Asian pussy" and expect to find that flattering. I'll never let you bastards near my daughter knowing what I know.

>>And of course a sailor who'd been at sea for a couple of years would have also admired green or purple gals. Any thoughts?<<

That's true but unfortunately a huge number of white men feel and TALK that way who've never spent a day at sea. Methinks you're rationalizing blatant racism in these songs because you love singing them. I'm a shanty fan also (and a sailor) but I won't sing those kinds--never.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Azizi
Date: 19 May 06 - 05:39 PM

Folks here already know my position on the n-word.

Rather than have me repeat what I've already written, as my contribution to this discussion, I'll share this summary of an African American university panel discussion on that topic:

Oct. 11, 2005


Forum: "Race, Media, and Representation in Public Spaces: Black Music and Humor"
The second forum in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies' fall 2005 series was titled "Race, Media, and Representation in Public Space: Black Music and Humor." This event, smaller in scale than the first forum, featured four panelists speaking on topics concerned with how African Americans are designated and represented to the public.

The discussion was organized around a cartoon that ran in the Alligator, an independent publication distributed to students at the University of Florida at Gainesville. The cartoon, which excited outraged protest among students, faculty, and the Gainesville community, depicted Kanye West, dressed in baggies, stating that President Bush "doesn't like black people" and Condoleezza Rice, one hand on her sassily extended hip, replying, "Nigga, please!" AAADS Professor Valerie Grim, chair of the department, introduced the topic as part of the continuing conversation on race and posed several questions to the audience, as well as to the other panelists: Was the cartoon designed to spark dialogue, as its originators claimed, or was it blatantly insensitive to racial issues? Who is "nigga" and who has the power to apply that label? Could those present support the protest against the cartoon at the University of Florida? She also presented a brief overview of the debate between free speech and hate speech.

Professor of History Amrita Myers sketched out the history of racial oppression and the misrepresentation of blacks in the United States in order to put the University of Florida uproar into focus. Because of close connections to faculty at that institution, she was able to present a blow-by-blow account of the controversy. She called for a coming together of all people against hatred and for social justice, stating that "race issues are everybody's issues," and not just for "minorities."

Ethnomusicology Professor Fernando Orejuela discussed the role of hip-hop in promulgating and diffusing the use and impact of the "N-word" among both blacks and whites and gave a hip-hop history of that word in public use. While the current generation of young people is, perhaps, overly comfortable with the "N-word," said Orejuela, it remains acceptable only for black use, and even that is controversial.

AAADS graduate student Matthew Booker, who is doing research on black humor, addressed the role of humor in the black vernacular as it is evolving from a private racial space to the public arena. He cited comedians, such as Chris Rock and Dave Chappell, who use humor to create dialogue, and concluded that humor allows for honesty when African Americans talk about race to each other.

Following the four presentations, the audience joined the conversation, with several people pointing out the "commodification of black people" in numerous ways, including through the widespread use of black vernacular. Words as power and as one contemporary manifestation of racism were recurring themes in audience comments. One person summed up such misuse by saying that society was "making the victim their own oppressor by saying it's OK to use the 'N-word'." No one present advocated use of the term by either blacks or whites. At the end of the evening, the question of supporting the protest was again asked, with virtually all of the audience agreeing that the cartoon and those who promoted it must be opposed. Grim and Myers offered to write a letter of support to the protesters and to give everyone present a chance to sign the letter with them.

The forum was co-sponsored with the Department of History, the Black Graduate Student Association, and the Black Scholars Collective."


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 May 06 - 05:59 PM

AR282,

Thanks. Well-put. When I was working with a human rights org. in WY, one of my regular op/ed pieces included a story about an American of Asian descent physician and her husband, also a physician, basically being run out of town because of her ethnicity. It was descpicable. There were many of us who protested through commmunity meetings, marches, etc. By the time it was all over, she and her husband felt they had no choice but to leave, nor no desire to stay in such a place. It still seems incredible to me that this nation, fighting a war for others' rights, still waged such a war on its own citizens as was done to Americans of Japanese descent during WWII. We never heard about that in history class.

Lest you think all of WY is like though, I am happy to say an Honourary Consul-General to Japan, Mako Miller, lives in the same town I was in and organised some wonderful "Japan Arts Days" and is a tirelss advocate for human rights. Here's some info on her:

November 29, 2000

JOHNSON CITY –Mariko Terasaki Miller, East Tennessee State University's 1998 Outstanding Alumna and an Honorary Consul-General of Japan, will return to her alma mater to deliver the fall 2000 commencement address on Saturday, Dec. 16. The graduation ceremony begins at 10 a.m. in Memorial Center.

On May 1, 1995, the Government of Japan officially appointed Miller an Honorary Consul-General of Japan in Casper, Wyoming -- the first woman ever to hold the title. That achievement was announced a week early during her April 1995 visit to the ETSU campus to speak about her personal multicultural odyssey.

"I am an internationalist. I was brought up as an internationalist. And I come, by rights, to this internationalism. I was born in the international section of Shanghai with an American mother, a Japanese father, a Scottish doctor, and Chinese and British nurses," Miller has said.

Mariko Terasaki Miller is the daughter of the late Gwen Harold Terasaki of Johnson City and the late Hidenari Terasaki, a Japanese diplomat, who met at the Japanese Embassy in Washington and were married in 1931. The story of the Terasaki family's early life, the return to Japan after Pearl Harbor and the war years there, Japan's surrender, and the American occupation is told in Gwen Terasaki's book Bridge to the Sun, published in 1957. A movie based on the book had its world premiere in Johnson City in 1961.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Azizi
Date: 19 May 06 - 05:59 PM

I hit the submit button too fast.

That quote was from this website:

Indiana University College of Arts & Sciences
Department of African American & African Diaspora Studies

http://www.indiana.edu/~afroamer/new_site/events/forums/blackmusic.html

****

Re: yella gals- I don't flinch when I hear that referent used as I do when I hear the n-word-regardless who says that n-word and in which context it is said.

Maybe this is because I rarely hear "yella gals" spoken and read it only in the context of very old songs. "Yella" has been retired for some time as a common descriptor for light skin Black folks. Now they're called "light skinned". Or they're called "redbone" if they have a reddish tinged to their skin. Or -and I don't approve of these referents, light skin Black people [and what that means varies from circumstance to circumstance-andsistother famfamicaseilight ] are sometimes affectionately and sometimes not called "White boy" or "Casper" or even "honky". As an example, recently a "medium" brown skinned child in my foster care caseload was affectionately called "White boy" by his darker skinned young mother and his late thirty year old grandmother.


Btw, I believe that "yellow" was rarely used for Latino people. They might have been called "brown" or "dusty" but yellow? I don't think that often if at all.

That said, I respect and appreciate where GUEST,AR282 is coming from in her/his 19 May 06 - 05:13 PM post. I can imagine that "yellow" when used as a referent for Asian people would result in the same visceral revulsion for Asians as the n-word does for people of Black African descent.

I hate it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: CarolC
Date: 19 May 06 - 06:12 PM

I'm told that US troops in Iraq commonly refer to Iraqis as "sand n*****s".

This right here should tell us whether or not there is any legitimate place for the word in our lexicon.

The fact that it is being used in reference to people who aren't Black, and specifically for the purpose of dehumanizing them to make them easier for us to kill, shows us that the word is being used, not to describe anyone's blackness, but to discribe the status the users of the word want to assign the group in question... that status being "less than human".

When words are used in such a way, they have a purpose... to marginalize and dehumanize the people being referred to in this way. And for that reason, they do have power. They have the power to promote hatred toward and descrimination against certain groups of people. And for this reason, they have no legitimate place in our lexicon. And I would say the same thing about words like "Jap", and all other words that are used in this way.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: michaelr
Date: 19 May 06 - 06:31 PM

I couldn't agree more, Carol.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: dianavan
Date: 19 May 06 - 07:43 PM

"...there isn't an equivalent word which can be used as a racial epithet against white kids."

Oh yes there is; Honky and Ofay to offer a couple of examples. It has been argued that until we start identifying the dominant culture as "White" we will never be able to change anything. I'm not sure if I agree that it will change anything but I usually do identify non-coloured folks as "White". I refrain from calling them Ofay bitches and Honky bastards if they can hear me. You don't get away with that kind of behaviour unless you're from the dominant culture.

All name-calling is a bullying tactic and meant to dehumanize.

As to the assault case mentioned above - Yes, its a hate crime. How can you beat someone with a baseball bat while shouting racial slurs without hating them?

As to the niece - I hope you asked her why she feels entitled to a 'slot'.

I see that as the biggest problem with racism in general. That is the idea that white people are somehow entitiled to as much as they want and are able to do what they want. Anyone of colour can have whats left over, should be grateful and had better behave themselves in a way that is acceptable to the dominant White culture.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: artbrooks
Date: 19 May 06 - 08:33 PM

Thanks for all of the input. I'm very glad that this word remains socially unacceptable.

I also have a problem with white and black being used as racial designators. In the first place, they are inaccurate. These words designate colors, and nobody is white or black. Try putting your hand on a clean piece of paper or drawing on it with black ink. In the second place, "white" seems to have a connotation of pure, virginal, clean (e.g., 'white as the driven snow') and therefore somehow better than other colors...which is, as we all know, so much BS.

I don't really have a good alternative, assuming that racial designators are necessary for some stupid reason. "African-American" really only applies to Americans (US citizens) of African descent and (Azizi, correct me if I'm wrong) primarily to those who are descended from slaves. What does one call a Nigerian national? Or a Nigerian national who emigrates to the US? Or the child of that person and a "white" American?

And, to carry my personal diatribe against racial designators one step further, how about "Hispanic"? A person who originates from a Spanish-speaking country, regardless of race. We (in the US) would usually describe a Hispanic as being shorter than average and having a medium-brown complexion, brown/black eyes and black hair. Actually, we are basically referring to Mestizo Mexicans. Hell, my 6'2" blond, blue-eyed son-in-law from Panama (who speaks only Spanish) is Hispanic!

IMHO, we can never have true equality (or maybe I mean discrimination based only upon merit) until we realize that there is only one race, the human race, and everything else is superficial.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: GUEST,Misandrist
Date: 19 May 06 - 08:58 PM

I only hate half of humanity.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: artbrooks
Date: 19 May 06 - 08:59 PM

Would that be the left or right half?


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Peace
Date: 19 May 06 - 09:19 PM

If people who are not Black think it's OK to use the word nigger, walk into a bar populated mostly by Black folks and use the term in a loud, clear voice. Please write and let me know how it turned out.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: dianavan
Date: 19 May 06 - 09:33 PM

"...we can never have true equality (or maybe I mean discrimination based only upon merit) until we realize that there is only one race, the human race ..."

Thanks for saying that, Art.

I don't know why so many people insist on social constructs that deny the truth. Seems to me that if we continue to discuss 'race' we continue to discriminate on the basis of colour.

The only reason that there are racial divisions is to maintain the status quo. In other words, its another method of dividing to conquer. As long as the power and wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, those few will make sure that we never unite against their greed and their inhumanity.

I think its high time that people of all colour begin to recognize their real enemy and join together in opposition to an unjust society.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Peace
Date: 19 May 06 - 09:50 PM

. . . when you regain the use of your arms.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Azizi
Date: 19 May 06 - 10:39 PM

In my opinion, racial categories are not a problem, it's the positive ir the negative valuations people put on the racial categories.

As for 'white' "having the connotation of pure, virginal, clean" that's a cultural connotation that isn't traditional in [to?] all cultures.

Re: the referent "African American": What a hodge podge of people are lumped in to this catch-all referent. It seems to me that 'African American' has come to mean any people of any Black African descent [no matter how long ago]who live in the United States. I'm referring here to the 'one drop of "black blood" makes a person black" social rule that used to be American law.

I suppose that most people think that the term "African Americans" refers to people of Black African descent who have two birth parents whose ancestors have lived in or were born in the United States.

However, among the many sub-groups of African Americans, there are folks whose have both birth parents from the same or different African nations, or one birth parent from West Africa and the other birth parent from Pennsylvania [by way of North Carolina or perhaps that birth parent from the state of Pennsylvania has family who were from Pennsylvania for generations]. Then there are African Americans who have birth parents [one or both] from Jamaica, or from Brazil, or from the Philipines or from Germany, or from Japan etc etc etc. Not to mention African Americans who have Native American descent.

And then there is the fact that Black is more all encompasing than this narrow [but generic] definition of "African Americans" since African American doesn't even serve as a referent for Black Canadians [some but not all of whose ancestors were formerly enslaved in the United States] and Black Brazilians and Black people from Venezuela and other Black South & Latin Americans. on 'Americans".

And -of course-some African Americans are very light complexioned and probably have the same amount of if not more European ancestry than African ancestry.

One can ask is "Black" an accurate referent for them? My answer: if you think that 'black' is just a color, no.

But I consider "Black" as a multi-faceted cultural construct that refers to all those people who want it to refer to them [and some who don't want it to refer to them at all but whose physical appearance rightly or wrongly places them in that grouping}.

So in spite of the fact that "Black" [the informal term] and "African American" [the formal referent] have definitional
{if that is a word} problems, for at least the last forty years, these referents have been constant, and given the various changes that we have made in our group referents since, in my opinion, that's a good thing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: michaelr
Date: 20 May 06 - 12:03 AM

artbrooks is correct: There are no white or black people. There are pinkish people and there are brownish people.

Anyone want to come out for...

Pinkish Power?

Thought not.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:13 AM

Azizi - No particular beef with anything you're saying, but this surprised me: "So in spite of the fact that "Black" [the informal term] and "African American" [the formal referent] have definitional
{if that is a word} problems, for at least the last forty years, these referents have been constant, and given the various changes that we have made in our group referents since, in my opinion, that's a good thing." Forty years takes us back to the 'sixties, when I was a kid. In those days, where I lived (Windsor - right beside Detroit), the polite or neutral racial designations were "coloured" or "negro"; "black" as I recall was a dubious term until the more "militant" black leaders (Stokely Carmichael et al) decided that "black" was the preferred term. From what I've been given to understand, Rev. King himself had to wrestle with that one before coming 'round. As for "African-American", was this term really in common use in any circles (outside universities!) before about ten years ago? Don't think I ever heard it much before then ...


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Teribus
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:18 AM

I muttered jealous oaths, and things,
As I punched him black and bluer,
Then I opens up this manhole cover
And I bungs him down a sewer.

From The Portuguese by ???

Paul B. that sounds like a version of this Dublin song:

"The Maid of Cabra West"

I'll tell you a tale of a fair young maid
That in Cabra West did reside
Meself, I live up in Donnybrook
Its a one-and-a-fivepenny ride
But there was a fly in the ointment now
That you very seldom see
For although I loved her terrible well
She was in love with a Portugee!

Now he was a nasty piece of goods
Gonzales was his name
And he couldn't wait till he got his hands
On Concepta - who was me dame!
So I made a vow be the Grand Canal
That I would do him in
'Cos I didn't think much of them Portugees
And in particular - I didn't like him!

So I follied them up to Grafton Street
One evening' just for one
Around by the Mercer's Hospital
It's next door to the Berkley Dunne!
Sure I spied them sitting' in the corner seat
They was kissing' and holding hands
Ah! There he was seducing her
With pints and Babychams

So I follied him up to his lodgings
In Rathgar or thereabouts
And as he was going up an alleyway
I battered him inside out
He gave out many's the curse and swear
'Til he was dead, I'm sure
Then I lifted up the manhole lid
And I dropped him down the sewer!

Now when the mot she heard of this
Sure she made me life a hell
So just for the sake of peace and quiet
I did her in as well
And its now I'm up before the judge
To answer for me crime
He says " I wouldn't mind the first one, Son
Ah, but not the second time"

So its all for the love of that fair young maid
And her Portugee sailor boy
For the passionate love of that fair young maid
I landed in Mountjoy
And if ever I get out again
I'll change me ways, you'll see
And I'll marry with a woman from Walkinstown
Who wouldn't look at a Portugee!


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Azizi
Date: 20 May 06 - 08:49 AM

Well, thurg, ya got me there :o)

I was dating those terms from the time of the 1960s USA Black power movement which started [guess when!]in the mid to late 1960s.

But yes, I'll agree that there was a great deal of back & forthness among Black folks not as much about whether "Negro" should be scrapped, but whether the correct formal group referent should be "Afro-American" or "African-American". I also recall seeing some print articles that used "Afri-American" and probably other variants, though I don't recall ever hearing that referent used in spoken conversations.

Wikipedia has this to say in their article about the group referent "African American":

"The term "African American" has been in common usage in the United States since the late 1980s, when greater numbers of African Americans began to adopt the term self-referentially. Malcolm X favored the term "African American" over "Negro" or "Black" and used the term at an OAAU (Organization of Afro American Unity) meeting in the early 1960s, saying, "Twenty-two million African-Americans – that's what we are – Africans who are in America."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African-American

I pretty much agee with the information in that article. IMO, it's a very interesting read. [and no, I didn't contribute to that article.]

All this to say, it is probably more accurate to state that most African Americans have been calling ourselves African Americans as a formal referent and Black as an informal referent for 30 years and not 40. But it certainly has been more than 10 years that the Afrian American group referent has been consistently used [by us and through example and pressure, by the 'mainstream' USA media].

Thanks thrug, for asking me for that clarification.

Btw, it occurs to me that I wrote a post on another Mudcat thead about why "African American" became the commonly accepted group referent [among Black Americans] for "Black Americans".

And since you asked ;0) here's a slightly excerpted repost of that comment:

Subject: RE: BS: Cross cultural marriages
From: Azizi - PM
Date: 24 Jan 05 - 06:59 PM

Though this is definitely a digression from the heart of the topic of cross cultural marriages, I would like to offer an abbreviated version of my opinion of why "African American' won the contest for the best group referent for Black people in the United States...

Once upon a time, as I'm sure that you're aware, some people of African descent in the United States used the referent 'African' to describe themselves. As evidence of this, one can point to the Protestant denominations AME and AME Zion [African Methodist Episcopal and African Methodist Episcopal Zion]

In the mid to late 1960s the referents for Black Americans were really in flux. During this time, a number of African countries were becoming independent nations. For the first time for many of us, the continent of Africa, and African cultures were getting some favorable press. For a growing number of Black Americans it was a matter of pride to be identified with historical & contemporary mother Africa.

At that time in the United States the 'melting pot theory' was being ditched for the 'multi-cultural' mosaic theory on how American culture is shaped. As a result in this paradigm shift the mass media was paying more attention to the positive contributions that each hypenated ethnic group in the United States provided to the whole..

If was therefore not surprising that eventually the term 'Afro-American' was added to the list of hyphenated Americans [although as per Americans' custom to simplify things, the two words came to be used without the hypens]. So you heard more about "Italian Americans", "Asian Americans", "Native Americans", and "Irish Americans". And you also heard about "European Americans", although I believe California's Latino Americans started using the group referent "Anglo American" instead of "European American".

Then it was that some formerly Negro, formerly colored people argued that we should just use "black" or "black Americans' as our formal group referent. But there was a real problem with this referent. Notice that all the group names but 'black' were capitalized. Did the use of the small 'b' connote a lessened status?...Many thought it could be interpreted this way. So though "black Americans'was still used informally {often with the 'b' capitolized, the search was still on for a formal group referent.

For a while "Afro-American" appeared to be the winner. But then someone noticed that the beginning word for all these hyphenated names except 'Afro' referred to a geographical place-a homeland. Others noticed that 'afro' spelled with a small 'a' was the name of a natural hairstyle that was gaining prominence among segments of Black Americans at that time. For sure brothers and sisters didn't want their formal group name confused with the name of a hairstyle...No, the group name had connote pride and promote a connection with the glories of Africa past and the promise of Africa now and in the future..

What name would it be? Why, African American of course the leaders exclaimed! And the people followed their leaders lead as people are usually do.   

So that was how "African American" won the what-to-call-us contest. And that is why African American remains the formal referent for us still today.

thread.cfm?threadid=77610#1386594 Cross-Cultural Marriages


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Geordie-Peorgie
Date: 20 May 06 - 12:37 PM

Aah think the version Paul B's refers to is "She married a Portuguese" By Derek Brimstone

Ther's a canny line in it where he sings "And he was a-seducin' of her wiv pints of babychams"


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:01 PM

Azizi - Thanks for the response. Another quibble: "So that was how "African American" won the what-to-call-us contest" - are you sure the contest is over? I suspect that before too long some shorter, less academic term will emerge. I think African American just has too many syllables to last in common parlance.


All - Re: "The Maid of Cabra West". Have I just lost my sense of humour, or is this a hideous song?


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: dianavan
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:03 PM

In my opinion, the term African-American may be a fine label, if thats what that group of people want to be called. It is, however, a term that excludes not only other minority groups but 'Blacks' from other countries. The problem with that is that it weakens the support that minorities need to overcome the discrimation that is present in 'White' society.

Try to imagine the strength that "People of Colour" or "Non-White" or even "Marginalized" people would have as a unified group. Of course I think that being "Black" is not the most signifant form of oppression.

Of the three most significant causes of oppression in our society (colour, social status and gender) gender remains the biggest problem of all. You can be a rich, "White woman", and be limited by gender stereotypes. If you look at the composition of the upper classes, you will find that there is very little discrimination against Blacks. In other words, if you are male and have enough money, your colour doesn't matter.

Poor, Black women are lower than poor, Black men in the heirarchy of power.

Women are not a minority. If women (regardless of social status or colour) were ever to realize their commonality and begin to relate to each other as a unified, oppressed group, we would begin to see significant change. As long as women separate themselves by colour and social status, it doesn't matter how many sub-groups are divised.

Of course, the best solution of all is to stop creating sub-groups of human beings all together. We all, after all, have the same basic needs and have a common Mother.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Azizi
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:24 PM

The referent "People of color" is widely used among many African Americans and others as an all encompasing term for people who are not "White".

As to contest being still on for other group referents, maybe. But Black is a short term and as long as White is being used, I'm betting that Black and Brown will be too.

As I believe that I've mentioned before in this thread, I'm no problems with the color references "Black" and "Brown" as long as it is known that they are not strictly discriptive of skin complexion and as long as there are no positive or negative valuations placed upon people who are part of those groupings. {"Brown" here being a referent for Latinos}.

However, I don't like "Red" as in "Redskin" or "Yellow"-as a referent for Asians. Maybe it's because the people who those terms are said to refer to made it known that they find them offensive, while Black and Brown people use these terms proudly as self-referents and group referents.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Azizi
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:33 PM

dianavan,

For the record, I very much disagree with the points you made in your 20 May 06 - 02:03 PM post.

However, I will not attempt to discuss the whys and wherefores of my disagreement with your points.

Perhaps another time, another place. But not here and now.

That said, I respect your right to have your opinions and beliefs and causes.


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:40 PM

You seldom (probably never) see questionnaires, job applications and the like, asking for you to fill in "Race".   Fine, say I.

Before the next paragraph I'll say that my ancestry, as far back as I know about, is German.

About fifty years ago, when I was in college, I adopted the procedure, when faced with such a box on an application, to fill in "Human". At the time it seemed a rather nervy thing to do, and I wondered if I'd get a negative reaction to it.

So far as I could tell, no-one ever reacted negatively to my wilful failure to answer the question they really meant, nor did anyone ask for any clarification expansion of what I meant.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Using the N-word.
From: dianavan
Date: 20 May 06 - 03:01 PM

Yes, Dave O, you are right. I used to bring home forms from school that asked about religion and race. My father used to insist that those lines be left blank or filled in with the words, "none of your God-damned business." Since then, I have always written "other".

Recently, I was asked to interpret a psych. test from a well known institution. Under family information, the little girl in question was listed as Caucasion. I was shocked! The girl has a White mother and a Chinese father but looks much more White than Chinese. I am quite sure that the information was assumed by a bureacrat and was not provided by the parents. I wanted to scream! What the hell difference does this make? That kind of information is absolutely meaningless.


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