Paul Scott:

A broken, elderly black man limped into his doctor's office last Tuesday afternoon. His neck bore the scars of numerous lynching attempts and his back the whelps of years of severe beatings. Reflected in his eyes was the pain of seeing his mother and sister raped and being powerless to do anything about it. As he described in vivid detail his many thoughts of committing suicide, the physician just sat emotionless in her chair. Finally, she scribbled on her prescription pad, "take two doses of the "N word" and call me in the morning. LOL..."

Last week, talk show host, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, came under fire for using the "N word" multiple times to help a caller get over her racial "hypersensitivity." While the purpose of the conversation was, supposedly, to give the caller life changing advice, in reality, Schlessinger was merely trying to help her predominately white audience get over their collective guilt of harboring white supremacist attitudes as she soothed them with the old standard, "Black Comedians use the N Word, Why Can't I" Therefore, if it's cool in Compton it must play well in Peoria.

Newsflash for Dr. Laura. Not all black men walk around grabbin' their crotches, showing their dirty drawers and dropping the "N bomb" like there's no tomorrow. I, personally, have never made a habit of using the word and have spoken out against its use on many occasions. Also, activists such as Gary, Indiana radio host, Kwabena Rasuliu have led multiple protests against those in the Hip Hop world who have used such ignorance as a marketing tool.

However, folks like "Sgt. Schlessiger" and her Right Wing Storm Troopers, continuously, use black entertainers as justification for their racist rants. The comedians to whom Schlessinger referred do not speak for me nor do they speak for most people of African descent. It is unfortunate that, while folks like Dr. Laura can name black comedians who use the word, they cannot name one Afro-centric historian who has put the word in a social or historical context and can explain how it became a term of black endearment.

So, herein, lies the major problem facing this country in terms of race relations: historical and cultural ignorance.

Although, the use of the "N word" pops up as a topic of discussion every few years, most people, black or white, do not know the historical origins of the word.

The word "nigger" is derived from the Portuguese adjective "negro" which was used by the early slave traders to describe their new found "property." So, when it crossed the Atlantic , "negro" was ,eventually, transformed into the word "nigger;" different spellings but for all intents and purposes, having the same meaning as they both infer that black people are less than human.

Black psychologists have suggested that the use of the word by African Americans is a subconscious response to white supremacy.

In his book, "Black on Black Violence: The Psycho-dynamics of Black Self-Annihilation in the Service of White Domination" the late psychologist Dr. Amos Wilson wrote, " through identification with the aggressor, the subject attempts to magically transform himself from the one being threatened to the one threatening; from powerlessness to powerful: from inferior to superior."

It must be noted that the degradation of black people for comedic purposes started with white black-face performer Thomas Rice's Jumpin' Jim Crow in 1830, predating early black comedians such as Moms Mabley and Redd Fox by more than a century. Not to mention that most black entertainers work for white owned companies.

While comedian Richard Pryor used the "N word" extensively in some of his early stand up routines, later in his career, following a trip to Africa, he publicly vowed to "never call a black man nigger again."

Perhaps, the group most influential in popularizing the word during the Hip Hop Era was NWA (Niggas With Attitude) of the late 80's and early '90's. However, the group was managed by Jerry Heller, a white man, who was also the co-owner of their record label, Ruthless Records. So, there have always been white business men who have supplied white Americans with an avenue to, vicariously, live out their racist fantasies through black entertainers.

While some may make the argument that it is only entertainment, the contradictions within this statement are many.

One example is that although Jewish comedians such as Jackie Mason and Adam Sandler, may make Jewish jokes, none of their stand up routines would ever be used by outsiders to make light of the Jewish Holocaust.

Also, attacks on the black community seem to be the only topics not off limit by the entertainment industry. Black entertainers from Professor Griff of Public Enemy to the late Michael Jackson had their careers negatively impacted by, allegedly, making anti-Semitic comments or songs. Ironically, Ice Cube, one of the founders of NWA was boycotted in the early 90's by the Korean community over a song he made in regards to the murder of 15 year old Latasha Harland, who was shot by a Korean grocer.

So, we see the real double standard at play.

If we are not careful, the controversy over Dr. Laura's statement will go the route of the infamous Don Imus incident as civil rights leaders and right wing media pundits will find a way to put the blame totally on rap music; blaming Dr. Dre instead of Dr. Laura.

In order to stop the Dr. Laura's of the world, this country must engage in a massive reeducation process. African Americans must learn all they can about their culture and pass the information on to future generations. Also, white Americans must be willing to hear the truth about the African American experience no matter how uncomfortable it might make them feel. This will not come from educators who fear backlash from school boards nor newspaper editors who are more concerned with offending their advertisers than serving the public good but will come from Afro-centric historians and scholars who are brave enough to speak truth to power without biting their tongues.

Unfortunately, this cure is too big a pill for most folks to swallow.

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots Fired .com. For more information about the Intelligence Over Ignorance lecture series on Race, Rap and Revolution contact (919) 451-8283 or

No Warning Shots
(Hardcore News and Views with a Gangsta Attitude)
(919) 451-8283

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  • Chicago-Midwest
    I know I arrived at this particular table of debate a bit late and yes this is my first post so I ask that you bear with me as I share my thoughts on this uproar over the N word. My my my such an uproar over one word. Yes words do have power but only the power that the speakers, writers, readers and users of words give them. The mere fact that so many of us are yet again debating the use of the N word gives that word more power. N----r is a state of mind a way of being and acting it is not the definition of a particular cultural or ethnic group. Yes Dr. Laura was rude ignorant and disrespectful in her use of the word but I wonder why that woman stayed on the line with her for so long once she started spouting N this and N that all over the airwaves. She certainly was not addressing the caller's concerns or request for advice. Dr Laura was (and I use the title Dr loosely) out of order but the sister that called in with the question about how to deal with her white husband was lacking in judgement as well. Please enlighten me as to how a white woman is supposed to be able to advise a black woman married to a white man on how to handle a matter of racial slurs in the home. In my humble opinion the woman needed to put her husband and his so called friends in check rather than putting her business out there for all the world to see and hear. Yes we the people of the USA have given much power to the N word over many years and for many reasons good and bad. Why not wrap our minds around this....Dr. Laura was acting quite niggerish in her response to that caller and her ignorant niggerish response has set off yet another cloud of smoke for us to stumble through in an effort to rise above the ills of the past. I just wonder what the response would have been if the subject of that infamous phone call had been a question of if it were in poor taste for one of African lineage married to one of European lineage to refer to said European spouse as a Honky....would we be debating the proper use and meaning of that word?
  • South
    Doc Laura hands down. She is an evil woman and feels it is her duty to spread morality when she spread her legs for a nasty photograph when fooling around on her first husband. It is OK for her to be an ex-slag because she is religious and a right-winger. Lindsey Lohan is another Paris Hilton who broke her probation and is banging dope again. You said it best, Brother Corey.
  • Georgia
    I write extensively about various related topics in my two books: Plain Talk volume 1 and Plain Talk Volume 2----
    It seems as if some white people want to have a sense of entitlement and empowerment. they want to push the limits of good taste. Why stop at imitating black men who use the N-Word, is that the only trait or characteristic that white people like Dr. Laura want to imitate. There are other things that black people do that they wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. What if black people started using that excuse, Well Lindsey Lohan did this, so I thought I could get away with it as well. Paris Hilton broke her probation and she only did chump change, I thought if I did something similar that I would get off easy too. I saw a white man jump in his car and take off with the police in hot pursuit. I also saw the Police officer draw his weapon and then put it away to run back to his car and chase the white man down. You know what would have happened if that was a black man. POWW!!!! Personally, I think it is time for all intelligent Black people to take true ownership of the N-word by not using it. Therefore, we relegate those, both White and Black, to idiots if they do use the N-word.
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