In a recent podcast interview, President Obama did something racists have done ad infinitum and rappers do ad nauseum. He said ‘nigger.’
Specifically, during an interview for a WTF With Marc Maron podcast, he said: “We’re not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not.” He didn’t say ‘the n-word’. He didn’t say ‘racial slurs’. He said nigger. Oh, yes he did.
Not surprisingly, several Fox News pundits have weighed in, positing such scenarios as President Obama dropping the word during his State of the Union address — and confirming Point 1 of my 7 Points About Racism. The word is not the problem. Calling a Black person the word is a problem, but that’s not what he did. However, the word certainly gives them something to talk about instead of things like the all those heretofore unknown donations to Republican campaigns from the Council of Conservative Citizens.
They didn’t hear a single other word he said. These people go to extraordinary lengths to criticize President Obama. To the point of lunacy, actually. What they don’t see is just how stupid they sound. Arguments — good ones — are logical, and that makes them easy to build. When you have to work really hard by stringing together a bunch of random facts, cherry-picking history, ignoring what’s right in front of your face, focusing on the irrelevant and blowing it out of proportion, it’s probably time to check your inferences. As a writer, one thing I’ve learned is if a project is way too hard, if it just won’t come together at all, it’s usually time to reexamine the premise.
Personally, I’m glad he said it. It makes people uncomfortable. And that’s exactly what racism should be — uncomfortable. Unbearable is better, but that’s our reach state-of-being.