This post will contain many racial epithets.
If you are easily offended, please do not continue.
It's been a long time since my last post. I haven't been visiting other blogs too much either. Holidays were great. I was in a bad frame of mind for a little bit there. Not gun to the head, start fires, bed ridden for weeks bad. But it seemed like a lot of shit hit me all with in a week or two. One thing that set it off was an incident that happened to my Daughter at school, which led me to think of my own upbringing.
The first week of December was boring. I always get bored when I'm not working. Got laid off just after Thanksgiving. Since my home is pretty immaculate, my down time is usually spent doing basic household chores, and playing on the computer. But when my Daughter spends the week here, it's a lot less boring. So I pick her up and as we are driving home we are talking about her day. As I'm driving we are listening to some music. Then while we are stopped at a light, she says "Hey Dad". "Yeah Hun", I reply. "What's a Nigger?". My jaw dropped. "We'll be home in three minutes Hun, we'll talk about it then."
As we walk in the door she immediately sits down at the table to start her homework. I actually go to the fridge and grab a beer. "What the FUCK?" is what I'm thinking. So I take my beer and sit down next to her. With T.V. off and no distractions I ask her, "Soooooo, where did you here that word kiddo?" "Emma called me a nigger lover." she said. "What exactly happened?" I asked. "When I came in from recess I sat down, and Emma leaned over and called me a nigger lover" she replied. "Well what happened at recess Hun?". "Nothing, I was playing hopscotch with Sabrina" she told me. I asked her, "Is Sabrina the little black girl in your class?". "No Dad, She's in Mrs. McQuinn's class, not mine." "OH, sorry", I replied sarcastically. "Go ahead and finish your homework Hun, we'll talk more later." So I start cooking dinner. While I'm cooking, I start doing a lot of reflecting on my own past life.
When I was about nine years old, I heard my Father say nigger for the first time. Then my Mother is frantically telling him to shut up, "Jonathon is in the next room". I knew right away that I heard a bad word, but had no idea what it was. That's one of the most beautiful things about children. They are so naive to the ugliness.
Now my Father is what I call a "Taught Racist". He was taught from an early age that black people are beneath him. I believe this is the type of racist that is most likely to join a hate group. But, since he was raised in Kentucky by an Irish immigrant Father, he had some rather colorful nicknames for black people. By the time I was six, I thought crickets lived on the moon, cute bunnies lived in the jungle, and we had apes living in the backyard. But when I heard the word nigger, I was at that perfect age where I was naive and inquisitive. So I asked my Mom, "What's a nigger?". "Honey, that's a very bad word that you don't ever repeat."
Moving to Chicago in the 60's was probably a bad thing for my parents. I can see how my Father's seeds of hate only grew during the riots. I would think that's how it went down, and my Mother must have told him about our conversation. Because shortly thereafter, the word nigger was used more and more commonly in my home. "Oprah is a good looking woman for a nigger" is one thing I remember hearing. "If Walter wasn't a nigger, he wouldn't be half the runner he is now" is another thing I remember hearing about Chicago's very own and beloved Walter Payton. I thought nothing of this language, as I started hearing it all the time. By the time I reached Jr. High, we lived in a nice Chicago suburb that was pretty much all white. But at that age you start picking up little stories on TV and in news papers. And just as it is now it was the same back then. The majority of crime, especially violent crime in Chicago was committed by black people. So seeds start being planted. But then when I got into High School, big changes took place. I became defiant. As with most white kids in my situation, you start developing a love for the black kids. It would be nice to say that this is because you start developing empathy in your life. But that's bullshit, at fourteen years old, you're the most selfish you have ever been. You express love for the black community not out of empathy, but out of defiance. Pretty much a big fuck you to the old man. At this time I remember a young black doctor coming into our home to perform a physical on my Father for his work. I'm sitting on the couch waiting to hear my Father tell this young guy to get out of his house because no niggers are allowed. But just the opposite. All smiles and handshakes from the old man. Even friendly banter during the physical. As the doctor finished my Mother and Father walked him to the door. All smiles and waves as he walked out. I remember thinking, maybe my Father had changed his ways. He walks into the kitchen, grabs a Budweiser, and walking to his special chair he gives me a wink and says "I better take a shower soon and wash this nigger off of me". I remember shaking my head and thinking, "Wow, the old man is a Pussy Bigot". That was my own special name for people that were to afraid to express how they truly feel.
As I've grown older, I've often thought about racism and how it equates to upbringing. My Uncle, Aunt and Cousins still live in Kentucky. I don't think any of them are prejudice in any way, although I've never asked. That is from my Mom's side (her Brother). They are also all college educated. So does education have anything to do with it? Maybe. But my Mother was not racist at all, and she didn't even finish High School. Maybe it was my Maternal Grandfather (Pampau). Maybe there was a lot more love in my Mother's home than my Father's. Or is it experiences?
My own prejudices or at least the ones I think I have are solely based on life experience, or is it? I'll be the first to admit, I have become desensitized. Dago, Wop, Krout, Mick, I've said them all. But what is it that makes Nigger so dirty. It's got to be the worst, even worse than kike. So dirty, that when someone on some news channel paraphrases, they don't say nigger. They say "The N word". Which by the way, I've always hated that. I'll let one of my favorite comedians explain why.
To be honest with you, I've done the same thing. I once called some old white lady a dumb nigger. As I look back on language I've used, I realize none of it's right. But Nigger has got to be the most offensive. Seriously, calling me a Mick, or Hillbilly doesn't even compare. And I don't even know why I say it. Even with the life experiences I've had with people from the black community, I've never looked at another black man or woman and thought, "What a nigger". But yet I feel no guilt saying the word. I think I have become desensitized. By a combination of media, experiences, and of course my Father. (Thanks Dad)
But since the incident with my Daughter, I find it necessary to eliminate some language from my vocabulary. I am the first to admit, that I am a foul mouthed prick. Unabashed for sure. What do you expect, I was raised by a trucker. But I have always prided myself on "Watching" my language around my Daughter. I'm proud to say that the worse thing my Daughter has ever heard was Hell. I think she might have heard me call someone an asshole once, but I don't want to ask. But still, I have never stopped to think of what that word really means to the black community, and I think it's time. I can see how it is offensive. Not to you Liberal professor types, who may very well have family that owned black people long long ago. But to a black man whose Great Great Grandfather may very well have been owned.
Continuing with our conversation during dessert. "So Hun, you asked what a nigger is". "Yeah", she replied. "Well, a nigger is a very bad word that some people use for black people". "What does it mean?" she asks. "It has no meaning Honey, it's called a slur. A slur is a bad, hurtful way to refer to someone's nationality or race." I replied. "Oh, so why did Emma say it?" she asked. "Well, Maybe Emma's parents raise her differently than I raise you. Did Emma say this to Sabrina?". "No", she replied. "Good, what Emma said was not nice, and I don't want you talking to her." I said. " I don't talk to her anyway Dad, she's kind of mean." She replied. "Good, so what do you want to do this weekend?" I asked. "Can I have a play date with Sabrina?" she replied. "Of course you can honey" I said, with a smile on my face.