"Ban Police Brutality! Ban Racial Profiling! Forget the [N] Word!"

Source: Youtube.com
(Wordcount: 1,104; Pages: 3) "Ok, Victoria, you're too… Russian. We've got go make you more 'thug' so you can fit into this city. We've got to 'niggerize' you." And so began one of the more ludicrous episodes of my career as a responsible (loosely used) manager - my attempt to make a Russian émigré more "acceptable" to her new comrades by teaching her the Ebonics tools and 'hood mannerisms she needed to fit in. As I stumbled upon the term "niggerize" that sunny and cold afternoon, I adopted it more freely and, with a loud street-voice, I continued to exhort the beneficial qualities of "niggerizing" Victoria.

So, Victoria, Theresa (a Filipina with a Polish boyfriend who's a Hip Hopper) and I enter a nearby branch where a serious, elderly black man was using the ATM. Still using my street voice, finding nothing but humor in my efforts to "niggerize" Vicka, the man turns around and with an even more serious, stern look says just one thing: "You're sure using that word a lot", to which I say, "Yeah, and?!" in a tone that really meant, "If I wanted your opinion, ya old nigga, I'd ask for it!"

My elder's remark has stayed with me years after the episode occurred. Not because I felt remorse over my attitude, but because I continue to encounter such narrow-minded perspectives on the N-word and its use, including the laughably "symbolic" banning of its use in New York City on February 27th 2007.

And of course, I'd be happy to explain (defend) my use of the word. But first, let's cast aside some variables (context) so that we can discuss it more objectively; variables such as an education establishment that continues to churn out another kind of slave, whether parents acknowledge it or not; an establishment that abrogates parenting into its sphere, relegating parents to nothing more than at-home ATM machines, completely unaware of the influences their children are exposed to.

Let's cast aside an entertainment establishment that worships vulgarity, poisons, and violence, in which we budget over 5% of our total expenditures to (1), an amount three times greater than what we spend on educating ourselves.

And let's cast aside that if lamenting about past evils were in anyone's best interest, Jews, Irish, Italians, Guatemalans, Native Americans, Cubans, Haitians, Eastern Europeans, Arabs, and Indians would also make extremely interesting and beneficent stories.

Now, on to my explanation. A wise tactician once proclaimed, "Divide and conquer!" In essence, anything you can do to create strife among your enemies is an exploitable opportunity to destroy them. And nothing creates strife easier than distinctions. Since class distinctions take a little too much brain power (which we assume or hope our enemies don't have), a simpler, more obvious distinction was seized: color, a distinction a certain Willie Lynch supposedly utilized to keep his own niggers in line (2).

So, in order to be offended by the use of the term "nigger" or "nigga", I'd have to assume you're feeling inferior to me. But clearly, your backtalk and overt disgust at my using the term suggests otherwise, that you don't feel inferior, to me or any man - except maybe your boss or spouse. Or maybe you don't feel inferior even your boss, which may explain why African Americans (and, not to leave out Hispanics) are notoriously unemployed (reaching as high as 15% in predominantly African American areas like Harlem in New York or East Orange in New Jersey). And maybe you don't feel inferior to your spouse either, which may explain why there are 6 times more single, black and Hispanic moms with kids than single, white moms with kids in the U.S. (3).

I'm willing to bet you also don't feel inferior to the law, either, which may also explain why many of our most independent brothers are almost 85% more likely to end up incarcerated (4), a uniquely African American perspective to the law that seems to get more "independent" with age, since older black guys (A45-54) are also about 2 and half times as likely as white guys their age to be incarcerated. (Which explains that old, black guy from the bank). Come to think of it, I don't think a single white guy has ever felt superior or equal enough to the law to deserve being shot 50 or so times by the authorities, either.

No sir; if you had an inferiority complex, you'd have much fewer minorities in positions of power, wealth and prestige. For example, check out the executives that run the Fortune 10 corporations in the U.S. (I did.) Among these firms' 428 executives, just two pictured on their websites were (obviously) African-Americans (there may have been a few light-skinned brothers I missed). A surprising half of 1%! (The most global of firms obviously had diversity from all over the globe; it was, in fact, they who had the token black guys among their roster.) No inferiority complex here.

Or perhaps the rationale is that not enough blacks start or manage companies or governments in that league, because if they did, there would certainly be more blacks running things. Not so fast Malcolm X: of over 200 cabinet-level advisors in the last 55 years of presidential administrations, just two brothers and a sister - Vernon Jordan, Bill Clinton's lawyer; Colin L Powell, Bush 1's Gulf War commander and Bush II's Secretary of State; and Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Powell's replacement at State - had a voice where it mattered (5). Oprah, Clarence Thomas, Bob Johnson, Quincy Jones, and Maya Angelou are cool, but lawmakers ain't listening to R&B or watching BET when drafting laws.

Perhaps then, the rational is that since blacks have been disenfranchised, taken from their country and left to fend for themselves, they never really had a chance. Well, let's take a look at that sunny continent across the pond. Do Africans killing each other over 120-degree Fahrenheit dirt and Muslims blowing each other up over whether Mohammed did this or that really exemplify black empowerment? Well, sure, white guys sold them the guns to kill themselves faster, but where did they get the money for those guns? Oh that's right, they sold their oil rights and diamonds to white guys, too.

I know! Let's just do what that distinguished problem-solver, Dr. Kamau Kambon, suggests and exterminate white people (6). Perhaps this would be a better world without white people considering that they're the root of every problem endemic in black and Hispanic America. After all, how could we ever be expected to be accountable for our own behavior when our great-great-great-great-granddaddies used to all be slaves-o-whitefolks and even today, whites continue to "divide and conquer" us with public educations and corporate pay and promotions?

Perhaps I should apologize for going too far. You're probably thinking that I'm a f**king a**hole or b!tch-a$$ piece of sh!t, right? You're probably also a vegetarian because pork is bad for you.


(1) U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditures in 2005, http://www.bls.gov/cex/csxann05.pdf; al berrios & co. analysis.

(2) William Lynch Speech on Wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Lynch_Speech

(3) 2005 American Community Survey, http://www.census.gov/acs/www/; al berrios & co. analysis

(4) U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin Prisoners in 2005, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/p05.pdf [ PDF file ]

(5) Vanity Fair April 2007, All the Presidents' Men (and Women), http://www.vanityfair.com/magazine/2007/04/graydon200704

(6) Dr. Kamau Kambon presentation to committee on Hurricane Katrina & Issues Facing African Americans, from C-Span, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=006A5hfm0X8

Al Berrios is Managing Director of al berrios & co., a pure strategy consulting firm, specializing in advising organizations + entrepreneurs on managing their enterprises in a service economy. Write or Subscribe to Consumer Strategies Report.


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