The N word vs. the C word

OK so this has long been a debate in my worlds including academia, comedy and writing: Nigger. Chink. Spic. Kike. etc etc. Do these words have equal value in terms of a) offensiveness b) racism c) ability to be parodied and subverted.
I was onstage at carolines comedy club a few years ago watching a pretty popular headliner tell the audience that she would say any racist word, any and all of them because she was an equal opportunity offender, a lenny bruce, a politically incorrect rebel defending our right to say these words and parody them, she said she would tell all kindsa jokes and make fun of everybody equally EXCEPT that she would never say nigger. (the N-word as she called it) Now picture smoke coming out of my ears. All you fearless users of language to politicize your experience, all you comics defending your right to poke fun at stereotypes and curse and be shocking onstage, I applaud you in your use of scary language, your ability to make people laugh, gasp etc. But to quantify hatred, to suggest that one racist epithet is MORE damaging, MORE hateful than any other, to me is the most offensive, RACIST brand of hypocritical nonsense and deserves the most scathing censure there is. I know that these words: chink, nigger, spic, jew, chinaman, paki, towl head, fag etc etc all have different histories in terms of how they entered our culture and our consciousness. But they all come from the same stupid fearful hateful place which seeks to oppress, to dominate and to disenfranchise whomever is on the receiving end and to suggest that it is ok to say chink spic etc hahaha so funny, but not nigger ohhhhh no you cant do that, is essentially to deny the experience of alienation loss and shame that actual human beings have felt because of racism in the world. If you say chink on stage you HAVE to at least be pro saying nigger otherwise you are actually a total biggot. You cannot quantify hate. If you are one of those, who like me chooses to address issues of race in this country by exposing the ridiculous language of bigotry, by reclaiming it through satire or humor or even through its usage such as when groups reclaim a word like nigga and fag, you cant become precious and !!politically correct! because you are afraid of being seen as racist-- coz guess what, in cherry picking which races you take on, you are being a fuckin racist.

I did shows at carolines 2 weeks ago and sang my mixed race call to harmony "My boyfriend's black and there's gonna be trouble" (see tracks posted on myspace) where the lyrics are about how hypocritical asian parents and people of color in general are about racism. And this fuckwad comic gets up on stage after me, this guy who laid out misogynist language, kill whitey jokes (just like everybody else and so fuckin what it was a comedy show not my point) so he says : well she had me till she said nigger, and then proceeded to tell everyone that I sudednly became ofensive in that moment. After an entire set where i also must have said chink (in context my friends, of course) and a bunch of other stuff designed to expose and subvert our own complacency towards things like misogyny and racism. This will happen from time to time. Someone will hear me say chink, and act like i created the word and am not actually exposing the users of the word and deconstructing it in the context of a discussion of stereotypes. Cant be helped. And it is part of my job to start a discussion. So I could care less that someone found fault in my original premise that to use a word, really USE it is a way of reprogramming it into culture in a new context that will eventually make it redundant. Like I said before, at least now people are talking about their own relationship to these words even if I am vilified in the process. Whatever. But to say it is ok to parody every race except african americans/caribbean americans/black americans is actually like a rally for racism to continue. For hate to be permissible. For everyone to be equal, but some are more equal as our friend george orwell warned us.

So fuck white guilt, fuck inter racial racism, fuck race activists who are homophobic, fuck christians who hate gays and arabs, fuck people who claim to be pro life then go kill peoples rights to have the life they choose/ bomb people, fuck everyone who says americans are the devil, fuck people who hate george bush but drive a hummer, fuck all yall and everyone i have forgotten, equally, in the spirit of total anarchic refusal to find anyone more correct than anyone else as we try to get on living and laughing at ourselves and figuring out how peace can play out in our own little lives.

7 comments

  • Dan

    Dan

    Nigger was an everyday word in the sixties when I was a child. The niggers had no problem with it then. I agree with you. How can they say that nigger is their word when crackers named them that most likely because they could not pronounce Niger where a lot of them came from. Then they say nigger about every third word just to try to piss "crackers" as they say off. None of the nigs ever even heard the crack of a whip across their back. Don't get me started on their ignorance even in congress when a congresswoman said her ancester niggers were slaves for over four hundred years. Hell, the country is only 200 years old in 1976. Then they were freed in 1861. I just think they are the biggest haters ever created that it makes it almost impossible not to hate them! Fuck a God damned nigger.

    Nigger was an everyday word in the sixties when I was a child. The niggers had no problem with it then. I agree with you. How can they say that nigger is their word when crackers named them that most likely because they could not pronounce Niger where a lot of them came from. Then they say nigger about every third word just to try to piss "crackers" as they say off. None of the nigs ever even heard the crack of a whip across their back. Don't get me started on their ignorance even in congress when a congresswoman said her ancester niggers were slaves for over four hundred years. Hell, the country is only 200 years old in 1976. Then they were freed in 1861. I just think they are the biggest haters ever created that it makes it almost impossible not to hate them! Fuck a God damned nigger.

  • lindsay

    lindsay

    Well.....

    Well.....

  • D

    D

    That is like saying South African Blacks were fine with Kaffir just because they used the word. That is simply illogical. As well, you are using the fallay of ad populum by asserting that because a plethora of Black people TOLERATED the term, that somehow makes it acceptable. I hate to see this typical arguments from White people, but I do not expect them to get pat their usual ignorance anytime soon.

    That is like saying South African Blacks were fine with Kaffir just because they used the word. That is simply illogical. As well, you are using the fallay of ad populum by asserting that because a plethora of Black people TOLERATED the term, that somehow makes it acceptable. I hate to see this typical arguments from White people, but I do not expect them to get pat their usual ignorance anytime soon.

  • Will

    Will Staten Island

    Hey Dan, there were slaves in this country both before and after we gained independence from Britain. Remember, Columbus reached the Caribbean in 1492; counting from the 16th century (the 1500s), you reach at a number much closer to 400 than your figure of 200.

    Hey Dan, there were slaves in this country both before and after we gained independence from Britain. Remember, Columbus reached the Caribbean in 1492; counting from the 16th century (the 1500s), you reach at a number much closer to 400 than your figure of 200.

  • Will

    Will Staten Island

    But I digress, interesting opinion in this post. I hope to hear your standup sometime in NYC.

    But I digress, interesting opinion in this post. I hope to hear your standup sometime in NYC.

  • Shannon

    Shannon Los Angeles

    Thank you for this article. I wholeheartedly agree. I think the reason for the taboo placed on the n-word, as opposed to the ch-word-describing-Asians (sorry but I’m not a comedian/not able to bring myself to write out the words/old-fashioned PC liberal) is a direct correlation between usage and backlash. The black community tends to become extremely angry, vocal and sometimes even threatening when the n-word is used. The Asian community...not so much. At least not that I’ve seen. I could say the solution is for every Asian person to threaten physical violence when hearing the word...but that’s just victim blaming. You’re right - we need to just put a stop to it whenever we hear the word in seriousness - or when it’s used tongue-in-cheek, we need to ask the person if they’d also use the n-word. And if not, ask why is the community it names any less worthy of respect.

    Thank you for this article. I wholeheartedly agree. I think the reason for the taboo placed on the n-word, as opposed to the ch-word-describing-Asians (sorry but I’m not a comedian/not able to bring myself to write out the words/old-fashioned PC liberal) is a direct correlation between usage and backlash. The black community tends to become extremely angry, vocal and sometimes even threatening when the n-word is used. The Asian community...not so much. At least not that I’ve seen. I could say the solution is for every Asian person to threaten physical violence when hearing the word...but that’s just victim blaming. You’re right - we need to just put a stop to it whenever we hear the word in seriousness - or when it’s used tongue-in-cheek, we need to ask the person if they’d also use the n-word. And if not, ask why is the community it names any less worthy of respect.

  • Greg

    Greg H

    So anyways he was correct in the statement that he was making was that this person in Congress had stated that her family has been slaves for over 800 years her ancestors excuse me so even if he was wrong with his figures add the 200 extra onto it and you stated, he's still correct because it's still nowhere near 8 that's the point he was making and I agree with dan, fuck a goddam nigger

    So anyways he was correct in the statement that he was making was that this person in Congress had stated that her family has been slaves for over 800 years her ancestors excuse me so even if he was wrong with his figures add the 200 extra onto it and you stated, he's still correct because it's still nowhere near 8 that's the point he was making and I agree with dan, fuck a goddam nigger

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