post 3 asians and a slur starting with n and ending
May 7, 2012
I had written and entirely less intelligible post about this. Basically it was me rocking in a corner saying ‘No’ repeatedly. As with everything else in this series of posts, please call me out for stepping out of bounds or saying something inaccurate, oppressive, or just otherwise needing to be changed. But. Yeah. I haven’t forgotten about this series.
First and foremost, fellow Asians. Don’t use this word. Just don’t. Don’t use it ironically. Don’t sing it in lyrics. Don’t quote in movie lines. Don’t say it by yourself in the dark. Just don’t use it.
If you’ve somehow managed to get through life without learning anything of america history and slavery, I’m duly informing you that this word embodies all of the hate and racism that allowed the vast horror of the atlantic slave trade to exist. It is hundreds of years of pain, humiliation, dehumanization, and hate condensed into six letters of the roman alphabet in the language of english (and with many variations in other languages).
See here for a fairly good history (I have no opinion about the discussion on the modern usage by Black people at the end of the article, the relevant portion for non-Black people is the beginning, since this is all the word will ever mean coming out of our mouths).
So now you know. This is important because most people make excuses that Asians don’t know how deeply racist this word is. From the moment you began reading this post, you lost any claim to ignorance.
But can ignorance even be a valid excuse? If your non-native tongue isn’t english, where did you first hear the word? In an american movie? By listening to hip hop? Where you also forced to read english literature ‘classics’ like huck finn?
Try to think of one example of the word being used by someone non-Black where the context wasn’t racist as fuck…
I’m coming up empty.
Because even in popular media, the only people saying that word and it not being racist as fuck are Black people. Which should lead you to deduce one thing: if you are not Black, you probably should not say this work, lest you also be seen as being racist as fuck.
You can really only use the ignorance excuse once. Just once. And if you happen to use the word out of ignorance and are called out on it.
Please follow this procedure:
Whatever you initial reaction is, don’t do that. Instead, stop and listen to what you are being told (likely, that you shouldn’t be using that word).
Apologize. Don’t make excuses, even if it is ignorance. Just apologize. And make it a real one. Because a fellow human being has just told you that you’ve used a word that dehumanizes and hurts them (hint: this is also the real reason why you shouldn’t use the word). So. Apologize. Because this is what you do when you hurt someone.
Stop using the word. Don’t do it again ‘cause now you know and you don’t want to hurt people, right?
Spread the word. If you hear other Asians using the word, tell them what it means and why they shouldn’t say that.
Things not to do:
Make excuses for using it.
Try to defend your right to use the word (you have none, if you aren’t Black).
- Be dismissive of the hurt you just caused. Because even if you didn’t mean it, it doesn’t erase the hurt and the pain.