The public use of derogatory slurs is a hot topic these days, with famous utterances from Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, Paris Hilton, and Isaiah Washington. Remember “macaca”? Last week the NAACP buried the word “nigger”.
Today in the news a prominent member of the board and benefactor to Roger Williams University admitted to calling a Black board candidate a “nigger’ during a meeting to discuss diversifying the college’s board. His colleagues were outraged and he has now retired to spend more time with his family. He claims to have only recently heard of the word “nigger” from listening to rap music and said the word just “kind of slipped out”. He’s an eighty year-old white man.
Two weeks ago I wrote a piece about how I was called a “dyke-bitch” at work, but what I didn’t write about was being called a “nigger” walking down the street in the Russian enclave of Brighton Beach. Three days ago these two guys got into a fist fight on my block on the Puerto Rican guy called the Black guy a “nigger”.
What to do about all this name-calling? I think it would take up too much space on this blog and in my life to chronicle every time a famous person or an elected official or just a regular person called someone an offensive name, but I feel strangely compelled to do so. I feel like I need to put up some sort of blog memorial of insensitive/offensive/oppressive slurs noting the time, date, and circumstances of the verbal event.
On March 23, 2007, so-and-so called so-and-so a _______________ (insert derogatory term).
Maybe it will help people heal if there was a site where folks could send in their offensive event with all the details. Then other people could read it and realize that name-calling hurts and we should avoid it just because it would be the better way to live. We could call it the “Nigger Memorial Site” or something like that.