By H. Lewis Smith
Myrlie Evers-Williams, wife of slain prominent Mississippian civil rights leader Medgar Evers, speaks out against use of the n-word by all Americans, but especially Black Americans' use, whose use of the word is the most disturbing and damaging in her perspective.
Why all the fuss over a word?, many will and do ask. Some Black Americans believe there are more important issues in the black community that one should turn one's attention to rather than the use of a word. However, this term [is] one of the most prominent issues because it's existence and use continues to contribute to the cycle of demise within the black community; as well, it chastises all the sacrifice and death brought about in the black community in the name of equality, justice, and true freedom. What is unacceptable and inexcusable is that embracement of the n-word is a mockery of Medgar Evers' death as well as the untold millions of enslaved African Americans who - as they drew their last breaths - would hear jeers of the n-word ringing in their ears. Nonetheless, a multitude of excuses are advanced by those who use the word in a feeble attempt to justify their ill-advised actions.
The truth of the matter is that there is only [one] true and authentic reason blacks refer to one another as n**gas: they are in denial of the fact that they are mentally enslaved, lost, confused and filled with a programmed self-hatred. The truth, no matter how cliché this may sound, can and will set them free, yet, they cannot handle the truth nor can the millions of non-users who condone use of the word by other blacks. Many users of the n-word do so simply because they have been conditioned over the years to use the word and now have no self-control over not using the word - use of the word to them is like breathing oxygen. Similar to a drug addict, they cannot go 24 hours without saying the word at least one time. Through and through, the n-word owns their heart, mind, body and soul. There is no other word in the English language that encompasses such a tremendous wealth of negative power. Today, use of the word has been reduced to a racial slur, but yet - subliminally - possesses the power to control the minds of a race of people.
Originally, the intent and purpose of the word n**ger was not just a racial slur. It served a purpose to ease the conscious of a brutal social system by consoling them with the twisted notion that the enslaved blacks were not human – or the same as them, therefore, denying the slaves their humanity and defining them as "things", not people. As such, blacks were classified as sub-human, 3/5 a person, a bestial savage, and then labeled as n**gers.
It was not only necessary for whites to see blacks in such a light, but even more importantly was to taint blacks' mentalities and sway their perspectives into seeing themselves as such beasts. The n-word was beaten, tortured and forcibly instilled into the minds of Blacks until they absorbed a self-hate, self-abnegation image of themselves contributing to an emotional, psychological, spiritual, and cultural genocide. The process has been such a resounding success that up into this 21st century, many black Americans do not have the intestinal fortitude nor courage to tear themselves away from the word. One of the greatest powers in the world is the power to define reality and make others accept it, even when it's to their disadvantage. The mis-use of Christianity also plays a role in this line of thinking. The belief was that by viewing blacks as sub-humans (n**gers), whites would be justified in the eyesight of God to perform any inhumane acts on blacks they so deemed appropriate to commit. Butchering, slaughtering, mutilations, brutal rapes, boiling and burning living beings, disemboweling with hot pokers and, of course, hangings were just a few of the so-called "justifiable" acts carried out against blacks. Up to as recently as the 60s, use of the n-word by southern whites weren't intended as a racial slur. It served as a code word among them that they were interacting with some inhumane species, and, therefore, whatever action inflicted upon black people, in their morbid minds, would be justifiable.
Twenty-first century Black America needs to come to grips with itself and stop being so naïve and childlike about this word...the human mind is not a toy that can be jiggled with, broken, and easily put back together or replaced. Rather, one must be vitally careful of what information fuses into the subconscious mind. Words and thoughts that are repeated often become stronger with repetition, sink into the subconscious mind and affect the behavior, actions and reactions of the person involved. The n-word has 400 years of built up negative energy, which does not bode well for its programmed users.
The number one priority for the Black community should be an unconditional commitment to the psychological and spiritual liberation of all Black people. It begins with the burial of the n-word. No, the word cannot be made to vanish into thin air, but it can be made to vanish from the speech of Black Americans. As Mrs. Evers-Williams concludes in a recent article: "The word should never leave your mouth... That bothers me more than a Caucasian using it. It is racist. It is hateful. It is everything it was meant to be."
To read more of Mrs. Evers-Williams' story, visit:
H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc., www.theunitedvoices.com a writer for the New England Informer Online, and author of "Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word".