Many days ago, on Social Media, I was called everything from a pussy to a snowflake to a politically correct moron and everything else you can imagine because I shared my decades-long journey with the “N” word on the show. The only reason for the discussion was that I had watched the new Dave Chappelle comedy specials on Netflix, and while they are being widely panned by viewers and critics, it is not for the same reason that I didn’t like them.
People online and on review sites say Chappelle has gone soft and talked about way too many things that are old or outdated (Bill Cosby, Transgender people, political correctness are all sited in multiple articles, blogs, and reviews as being tired and lazy topics). No one seems to be phased by his use of the “N” word, which is fine, just don’t tell me I have to be ok WITH his use of the word. Jesus this world is annoying.
I never suggested Chappelle shouldn’t or couldn’t use the word. He can do whatever he wants, I just don’t have to be entertained by it and I found his use of the word to be egregious, over-the-top, too often, and almost never in the context of an actual joke. He was just saying it to say it.
In the beginning of the discussion, it was absolutely appropriate to ask if my heightened sensitivity to the word comes from dating an African American for the past 13 months. That is a fair question and, obviously, I can’t objectively comment as to what extent that plays a role in my position now, but to claim that’s the only basis for my opinion is nothing more than cowardly.
I am not proud of my history with the N word but I own it. I grew up in the 70’s when the word was prevalent and basically accepted. I heard and told plenty of jokes using the word. As far as I know I never once called a person that word, but I don’t delineate between the motivations of the uses, I just hate the word now as much as I hate the gay slur that begins with “F,” another word I used plenty until about a decade ago. (And since I’m not currently dating a gay man that kind of throws the idiotic argument out the window that my opinions are formulated solely by who I am dating).
I find the N word, in all of its’ contexts, jarring. It immediately makes me look aside and ask myself “did I just hear someone say that?” I don’t criticize people who use it, I simply walk away or say nothing. I have friends, black and white, who still use the word today. That’s their choice; mine is to what extent I tolerate it. If that makes me a pussy, then color me pink.
I got a text from a friend of mine who watched the Chappelle special and basically said they didn’t find the use of the word to be egregious at all and maybe I was being over-sensitive. So I tried again. I watched the first special front to back, twice. The second time, I had the closed captioning on to help me confirm that he uses the word 26 times in an hour. An average of once every two minutes is way too much for me, thank you.
I’m still friends with the person who felt differently and make no judgments of this person. I wouldn’t be their friend if I didn’t know their heart. Their opinion was that since Chappelle didn’t use the word in a mean, malicious manner (which I agree with), they weren’t affected. Fine, I was affected and it tainted (giggity) my ability to enjoy his otherwise humorous comments and observations (despite the internet and most of the world disagreeing with me that he was funny).
Here’s the difference; as the debate over one of the most divisive words in our language rages on, other people would demand that my friend is a racist for even allowing the word to be spoken, while those on the either side call me a politically correct weak pussy for not wanting the word said at anytime around me. With those attitudes prevalent, we will continue to get nowhere on this debate and so many others.