It's Actually Sticking

Category: By Christian
There has been a lot of talk about the use of the N-word ever since the Don Imus and Michael Richards incidents. Both sparked a lot of conversation and debate, especially about the view that racial slurs were appropriate within the black community as in-group slang. The NAACP went so far as to have a ceremonial funeral for the N-word, as they felt its use within the black community was corrosive and unhealthy.

I had my doubts as to what long-term effect this "funeral" would have. It seemed like a nice gesture, but unlikely to spark any type of substantive change.

I was wrong.

This past weekend, Black Enterprise magazine was holding an event. They invited Eddie Griffin to do a standup routine, and he accepted that invite. When it comes to black comedians, Griffin is a pretty big name. He has been in many feature films and has had his own TV show. He's a funny guy.

What Black Enterprise did not find funny on this occasion however, was Griffin's repeated use of the N-word in his routine. It has become a very common practice by black comedians for many years, much the same as the Hip-Hop community uses it regularly. It has become socially acceptable, though it seems as though that opinion might be changing.

As Griffin proceeded through his routine, the leadership of BE decided that they were not comfortable with his use of profanity, including his use of the N-word. It wouldn't be enough to let him finish and then apologize later. They were not content to slip it under the rug and simply learn from their mistake. They were not intimidated by his celebrity. In the middle of his routine they pulled him. They pulled him in front of 1000 people, and BE's publisher came on stage to explain. And they didn't even have to do it. You and I would have never even known the performance happened. Even if we did, it would have been normative in light of other performances by prominent black comedians.

That takes a lot of guts. But it was worth it. Those guts proved that it is possible to change the tide, and it showed a new way forward for a paradigm of appropriate language within the black community. So props to those cats. Sorry I doubted.

Fair Dinkum

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