Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A White Chick’s View On the “N”-Word

The Reverend Sharpton is in the Ghetto this week, seems he is imploring the world of Rap and Hip-Hop to bury the N-word. Now I am not the biggest fan of the old Reverend because most of the time I think he’s just goes around looking to stir up trouble where it’s not needed, not all the time but most of the time. I give you Tawanda Brawly as a prime example, anyway my opinions of Mr. Sharpton is not the point really.

Part of me thinks I should just backspace this whole post because as a white chick do I really have a stake in this, some might say no, but I will disagree and write on. In all honesty I have to agree with the Rev. here. I have never understood the fascination of how frequently and well almost joyously some African Americans use the word “nigger” amongst themselves. And yes I know that it has become a “cultural” thing, a sort of inner race term that is used amongst members of this race and that it serves some purpose. What that purpose is I don’t get, maybe I am just looking at this from a purely Anglo Saxon point of view too much. But as much as I try to understand it, I still don’t get how a group of individuals can become so comfortable using a word that was in essence created by slave owners to degrade an entire (at the time) oppressed race of people.

Every time, I step into the halls at the school I teach, and hear the African American students use the “N” word as they greet each other and in turn respond positively, I can’t help but think that their ancestral line must be rolling over in their graves. In my opinion I don’t think such a word is a term of endearment, and it should not be made out to be one. You can’t redefine the word or put a positive slant on it by simply substituting a vowel.

I don’t think enough time has passed in this country for the entire concept of using this word openly in conversations; the power behind the word has not been erased simply by the passing of a century. In essence it boils down to this, the word is still and probably will remain for a long time at its basis –a racial slur, and it will continue to be even more so until it is not considered acceptable.

But honestly is that ever going to happen? Couldn’t tell ya, all I know is that as long as we have people like Damon Wayans. Who by the way has been trying to copyright the word "nigga" with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office for nearly two years. Not because he wants control over the word to “bury” it but rather to market some products he's trying to sell. Apparently he hasn’t been successful as of yet. Don’t get me wrong I love Damon and well the Wayan brothers are complete comic genius, but I don’t agree with his “business” venture. But hell what right do I have in stopping him, after all he has freedom of speech and the right to call himself what ever he wants, who’s this white chick to tell him what he can and can not say. Freedom of Speech you gotta love it.

The Two Sams

When I was packing for my vacation I collected up some reading materials to take with me, one of the books I got for Christmas was The Two Sams by Glen Hirshberg. I had started to read one of the stories earlier when I got the book, but got side tracked by my Leather Bound Edition of The Snowman’s Children also written by Glen. Well as we all know my school year got completely crazy after Christmas and I just didn’t get the chance to pick it up again until last week.

I was looking forward to delving into this book, mostly because I wanted to see if he was able to captivate me as a reader like he did with the Snowman’s Children. Part of me was scared to read it, not because it is in the horror genre, but because I had a sort of weird connection with his first novel. Although Snowman’s was a work of fiction, it was loosely based on the premise of something very real, real events that I remember living through. The way he described the area in Oakland County and the characters, he could have easily been describing the kids in my neighborhood, hell even me, and in many ways he did describe my fears quite eerily.

Anyway, so I started to read and well I have to say I was not disappointed in the least, and frankly I can’t wait until he writes another book. Glen wrote five short stories for “The Two Sams” collection, all of the stories are out and out showstoppers, I know how hard it is to write and well Glen makes it look effortless. Although I have never attempted to write fiction of any kind, I can see how aspiring writers would read his work and basically say “why do I even try?” it’s that good.

I am not going to give a synopsis of each story because well I want you to read the book, but I will talk a bit about my favorite one. “Mr. Dark’s Carnival” reads like a good old fashioned ghost story, the main character is a college professor who has had a life long quest to debunk the mystical carnival that the story’s title describes. A sort of Montana plains Urban Legend of sorts....that is until he receives an real invitation to visit the carnival one Halloween night. Part of him wants to prove the legend to be a hoax but ironically even more of him wants to experience it, really experience it. Glen does an awesome job of throwing a modern twist into the story as you experience the main characters quest to debunk the traditional structure of a ghost story while all the while becoming completely absorbed within it.

Reading the Two Sam’s convinced me that his first novel and its affect on me was not a fluke, I honestly thought I would at most get a quick scare and then put the book down and quickly forget what I read. But Glen has a way of working on your Psyche, and leaving you with a chill running up your spine for quite some time..
So buy the book, even if you are not a fan of the horror genre you will enjoy his work, and YOU know who---ahem, get the book and read it if you haven’t already, you are missing out on some good stuff!!
Once again you blew me away Glen, thanks.
You can order Glen's book on Amazon.com