Nigger v. Queer: How Gays Got it Right

Re: the post on 11.10.06 of my Esquire article "The Manifesto of Ascendancy for the Modern American Nigger," I had expected to see in reply discourse on the events of the "Hainan crisis." On the merits of the inciting factors of the Cincinnati riot versus, say, the '92 Los Angeles uprising. I'd expected a debate on comparative events in history as they relate to black America.

Alas, from the contrarians I expected too much.

It was obvious from pursing some of the replies that the bulk of the naysayers had not even read the Esquire article in its entirety. Faint of heart and fearful of intellectual conflict, on the way to the link they tripped over the word "nigger."

Is it possible that in 2006, generations after we as a people survived slavery, an abandoned reconstruction, Jim Crow and the tumult of the civil rights era some in our community would allow themselves to be cowed by six letters and two syllables?

Yes.

And this manifestation of timidity is formed at the nexus of a gross symbiotic relationship between the paternalistic left and the racist right.

The left wants to wield the righteous sword of politically correct censorship in a hamfisted attempt to protect what they perceive as the otherwise "weak" and "helpless" black man. They wish to neuter the word nigger so that it will not shatter blacks' fragile nature. You do not see the word in print in mainstream media. And though entertainment companies make serious bank pimping "niggaz" to middle America, you do not hear the word associated with true discourse in the media.

Yet, how many media executives or newspaper publishers who made the decision to amputate nigger into "the N-word" are people of color themselves? Or is it merely "them" deciding what's best for "us?"

So, the left hides the word away. But the same as with a gun or blade or blunt instrument, even in seclusion it remains a weapon. And once found, it can still wound.

And that is where the far right joins this sick game of Twister. After being told repeatedly that nigger is a hurtful word, don't say nigger, blacks are weak and will wilt if the hex nigger is spoken, the Retro Guard feel emboldened to use the word, to speak ill of us and to openly surmise that all blacks are pigeonhearted and in need of protection.

We do not need protection.

There is not one individual on this planet who can make a black into a nigger. We can only do that to ourselves. Yet aided and abetted by fear of the right and largess from the left some are all too happy to be accomplices in their own demise.

This is where gays got it right. There was a time when queer was a harsh pejorative for homosexual. But instead of trying to force people into using convoluted phrases such as "the Q-word," they embraced the word queer. Gays stole it from their enemies, waved it like a captured war flag which they then strung from the standards of pop culture: Queer as Folk. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. By flogging it endlessly they took away its intended sting. So, then, go on and call a gay queer. At worst they will laugh and shake their heads. At the least they may say: "yes, thanks."

Acceptance of the word does not end homophobia. It does not stop the hate mongers from trying to inject bigotry into the Constitution. However, unlike some in the black community, upon mention of the once dreaded word gays will not drop into a fit of histrionics.

That blacks once stood against attack dogs and water hoses and rope thrown over a tree limb, but now fade before the utterance of a word speaks to an atrophying of the black spirit. I will not add to it by apologizing for praising blacks who accomplish. Particularly blacks who accomplish through letters, intellect and focus on the family (real focus on the family, not the hypocritical Dobson-ish variety).

And yet . . .

And yet the self-victimizers and their coddlers question why individuals would dare - DARE - aggrandize success over failure, accomplishment over complacency (particularly when that success and accomplishment is attained to the right of the political center-line), and are more concerned with the usage of a word than discussing the root of an issue.

I am unsure of how anyone can take a contrary stance with the tenet of self-reliance.

But, they have.

I am uncertain of how a person can quarrel with the concept of achievement.

But, they did.

In the face of the principles which delivered us from physical and spiritual bondage, there are those who refuse to concur with personal responsibility, the pursuit of ideals and the praise of achievement. Achievement being as minor as political or economic stature, as major as honest work for honest pay. Being a loving mother and involved father no matter the structure of your family.

How can any individual - anyone of any race, of any political leanings - take issue the fundamentals of ascension?

But, some always will.

So be it. I say to them as I said in the Esquire article: Go with God. For those who choose to reside on the narrow strip of land between victimization and non-accomplishment to where both the far right and far left wishes to relegate us, by all means pitch your tent.

But do not expect all to reside with you. Do not expect the greater of black America to allow themselves to be continually defined in media and culture by the lesser. Do not expect this from Harold Ford or Colin Powell or Barack Obama or Condi Rice or the unnamed black man or woman who works their tail off, comes home tired but still takes the time to make sure their kids have done their homework, eaten a good meal and are well rested for the next day's schooling.

Do not expect anything less from those of us who wish to see all of us ascend.