I am an easy going, laid-back, go-along person but I have my limits and they have been reached. I’ll go so far but no further. I have reached my limits in adjusting to what people with dark skin want to be called.
John Rolfe, Virginia’s first tobacco planter (and husband of Pocahontas) wrote about the arrival of a Dutch ship that arrived on the Virginia coast in 1619 that “brought not any thing but 20 and odd Negroes” that were traded for food. Another source says they were called “Negars.” Later, dark-skinned people were called, “darkies” as in many folk songs. In Gone with the Wind, one character speaks of “the simple-minded darkies.” We are told that when whites used the term “darkies” it did not suggest inferiority; however, I am not convinced that was generally true.
Eventually people of color were called “n******” without any suggestion of hatred, prejudice, or bigotry at least in many instances. In English literature in 1897, Dickens and Conrad published The N***** of the ‘Narcissus’ with no racist connotation. Mark Twain often had his characters using the word without any negative or racist suggestions although there are some fanatics who still insist that Twain’s books be removed from public and school libraries.
I find it incredible, incredulous, and inane that those same people usually fight to keep Heather Has Two Mommies, Go Ask Alice, etc., on the shelves! It is laughable to think that Twain would put into the mouth of one of his characters, “the N word,” as many PC media people do today instead of using the actual word. My children never heard “n*****” in our household since it became a slur many years ago and some of my friends (and many of their Christian school classmates) were black.
Then dark skinned people were called “colored” which was considered a polite term especially after a “colored” man stopped the run-away carriage of President John Tyler in 1844. During this period they were called, “darkies,” “colored,” and “n*****,” depending on the location and the people using the terms. In fact, the U.S. War Department established the “Bureau of Colored Troops” in 1863 to help with Lincoln’s War of Northern Aggression. The “colored” troops fought bravely—for both the north and the south! Today, “colored” is considered a slur unless you want to join or support the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In that event, the term is acceptable.
“Colored” and “darky” fell into disuse and was replaced generally by “Negro” until after the Civil Rights movement in the 1970s. About that time, Negroes decided that they didn’t like the term and wanted to be called, “Blacks.” All right, that was reasonable although “Negro” simply means, “black.” “Negro” was accepted by blacks and whites as a neutral term and everyone knew what it meant. Now it is a slur. Of course, it is not considered a slur to make out a check to the United Negro College Fund, or to the National Council of Negro Women, National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women, and others.
While “Negro” was replaced by “Black,” that too is now forbidden although there are groups such as the Organization of Black Airline Pilots, Black Film Festival, National Black Engineers, Black Police Association, Black Mayors Association, and scores of others.
“Black” is now considered a slur usually by black bigots. But I went along with the change from Negro to Black. No big deal. However, I have been pushed far enough. Many Blacks now want to be called African-American, but I’m not going there. One reason is I have been gracious enough in going along with all the changes but mainly because I don’t believe in hyphened Americans. We don’t have Jewish-Americans, Irish-Americans, German-Americans and we don’t need African-Americans. Call it bigotry, stubbornness, crankiness, but my black friends are Blacks. Frankly, they are simply “friends” since I don’t care whether they are black, brown, or polka dot. I won’t move another inch.
It is astounding that almost all the media refuse to use “n*****” in the correct way as if there is no correct way to use the word. Of course, that is political correctness or is that personal cowardice? Almost everyone in and out of the media don’t mind using almost any four-letter word no matter how offensive but they shy away from the infamous six-letter word, a word that many Blacks use every day. I never want to offend anyone even my critics; however, no one will choose my vocabulary for me and when n***** is appropriate (as in this column) I will use it even if it causes heartburn and nightly teeth-grinding to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Barack Obama!
(I have just experienced an example of censorship by the group that distributes this column to over 11,000 media outlets. They refused this column with “the N word” spelled out. I received the message “You have used an inappropriate word.” I did not but to get this column published I am forced to go along with the nonsense.)
A Dallas County (Texas) Commissioner charged that the collection of traffic fines was a “black hole” and one of the Commissioners charged that the term was racist! Before you fall to the floor holding your sides in rib-breaking laughter, he also says language such as “angel food cake” and “devil’s food cake” are also racially insensitive. He wants us to be more sensitive. No, he wants to control me, and that won’t happen until shrimp learn to whistle and pigs learn to fly.
I feel the same way about being pushed to change from B.C./A.D. to BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era); about publishers who insist on using a Bible version other than the King James Version; the use of “she” instead of “he” as gender neutral; and other such attempts to force conformity. I won’t go there. I will not permit others to pressure me to change what has been acceptable and workable for centuries. I refuse to use such publishers. Go there if you want but you go without me.
I’ve gone as far I’m going even if I walk alone.
Copyright 2008, Don Boys, Ph.D.