Friday, January 04, 2008

Obama Wins Iowa

This post is less about Obama and more about me and the N-word

So my daughter comes in to my room last night and says, arms raised in victory, "Obama won Iowa!"

I wish I could say I was shocked into being a potty mouth but my response, "You're shittin' me?"

And she, her brown eyes wide, hopeful and happy - "Nope! Isn't it wonderful?"

"It is absolutely wonderful!" And she dances back off to bed.

And I mumble under my breath - "Damn, that niggah might be president after all."

And then I am mildly shocked at my own weary vulgarity and that I, of all people, have called the potential president of the United states the N word.

Oh, yes, I say it occasionally. Like that time the Bengals got intercepted and the offense suddenly became the defense and I'm screaming, "Get that NIGGAH!" who's running with the ball like he stole something. And Ye Old Matey was on the phone with his white friend who heard me and was patently shocked, I tell you shocked. I think he said something to Matey like, "She's very excited isn't she," and Matey was like, "Yep," and kept on rolling. I should have been embarrassed, but I wasn't.

And I am still capable of looking Ye Old Matey, straight in the eye on occasion and saying, "Negro, please," when he has gone completely and entirely too far.

I worked at a school for a while and I wish I could say that it bothered me when the kids called each other "Niggah" but honestly, it didn't. I would stare at them in amazement that kids still said that - I remembered back in my school daze when we tossed that word around like pop rocks buzzing in your mouth - and they would think I was offended and quickly apologize - it was all I could do not to say, ah, that's ok. We were under mandate to discourage use of the word whenever we heard it and I didn't want to become known as the one adult it was ok to say that word around.

So this beggars the question - by using that word in relation to Obama, do I somehow see him as less than the other candidates? And the answer, I think, makes all the difference.

No. I am a staunch Obama supporter (switched from Hillary the minute he decided to run). I see the hope in him he wishes to convey to America - not just to black people - but to all people. That America and this world can be different if viewed through different eyes. I think of his wife coming to visit him in the oval office and the pitter patter of his girls' feet in the White House halls - and something in my heart expands

What white folks don't understand is that while the N word for them, is a word of exclusion, for us, it's a word of inclusion. Me saying what I said and some white guy saying, "Can you believe there might be a nigger in the White House?- and yes, I have read those very words on these here Internets - well sweetie, the difference between what I said and what they said - child, those two concepts are worlds apart.

Even so, because that word is a bit tired and can be so fraught with misunderstanding - I suppose it's best to use it less or not at all. 'Cuz let a white person say it to me now and I'm liable to slap the taste out of someone's mouth.

I guess it really does't have a place anymore. Even when I'm tired and ill and tucked into bed - no matter my reason or turn of phrase or expression - even though what it means for Me isn't the same as what it means for Them -no matter that I am able to feel that way and not feel one bit hypocritical -

I suppose I should stop saying it. Yes, even alone, all by myself.

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