Monday, April 16, 2007


It was the slur heard 'round the world.

No, Don Imus didn't say the N-word, but he didn't have to. Most of us who aren't members of his neo-Nazi, White Supremacist Sons of the KKK fan club knew what the nasty old fossil and his idiot sidekicks really meant to say. "Nappy-headed hos" and "Jigaboos" are just nicknames.

Surprisingly, Don Imus was fired for his verbal assault on the Rutgers women's basketball team, as sponsors fled from his program like cockroaches when a light is turned on. Not so surprisingly, we're already hearing heartfelt testimonials from the shock jock's apologists, pleading for us to show forgiveness.

Uh-uh. No, not this time.

I'm tired of cowards with a microphone hiding behind the First Amendment. This wasn't a fearless trailblazer like Lenny Bruce who was harassed, arrested, and finally banned from performing in public. This wasn't the controversial Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour being cancelled by CBS. This wasn't the subversive Bill Hicks being censored by David Letterman.

This wasn't a joke, this was a mugging.

Whenever I hear a stupid white man vomit the word "nigger", or any other racist slur, it feels as though a dirty-fingered bum with a bad cold has suddenly grabbed me like a napkin and blown his nose. I still hate the word, and I hate the smug white sons of bitches who casually delude themselves into thinking they have a right to use it.

You don't.

Yeah, I'll admit that you're exercising your freedom of speech. Legally, you're entitled to that.

Morally, however, as an African-American male, I feel that you're exploiting your white male privilege. That's not "freedom"; that's acting out a mental disorder you inherited from your ancestors who imprisoned hundreds of thousands of innocent Africans centuries ago and brought them here.

But you don't own that word anymore, because you don't own me anymore.

Believe me, African-Americans know what happens when white people forget we're human beings and treat us like we're their property:

Although Martin Luther King is an American icon today, I'm old enough to remember when the great civil rights leader was vilified, tossed in jailed, spied upon by the FBI, and assassinated because he was a nigger.

I remember Clifford Grover, Eleanor Bumpers, Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Michael Stewart, Abner Louima, Sean Bell, and all of the other human targets who found themselves on the wrong end of a cop's billy club or "warning shots," and were brutalized and killed because they were niggers.

I remember the men, women, and children of New Orleans who, after Katrina had cruelly taken away everything they ever knew, drowned or slowly starved to death in front of the whole world, because they were niggers.

Uh-uh, "nigger", "nappy-headed hos" and "jigaboos" aren't just words in the African-American community, It's a burglar alarm. It's telling me that somebody who hates me is knocking down my front door. That old saying "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" is a dangerous fallacy. When I hear the word "nigger," I know the damned sticks and stones are gonna be close behind, followed by an angry mob armed with nooses, knives, brass knuckles, baseball bats, guns, and a search warrant.

Remember Cabaret, the brilliant Oscar-winning musical by Bob Fosse? The Kit Kat Klub, a sleazy cabaret in Berlin during the 1930s, is used by Fosse as a grim mirror to reflect the gradual corruption of Germany before World War II. As the Nazi Party grew in power, the "comedy" routines on stage became more viciously anti-Semitic. And I'd bet you money there were "good" Germans who didn't think it was a big deal. What's the matter, you don't have a sense of humor?

Whenever an ugly racist slur turns into a punchline, look out. Not only isn't it funny--it's deadly.