Race Relations 101

It was a couple of days before Halloween, a couple hours past dark. I was sitting alone either at a bus stop or, where I have learned that nothing good ever happens, on a park bench. Into my line of vision walks a group of 3 or 4 individuals — wearing masks. I, even as I conciously am aware that they are probably ambling their way to a Halloween Party, instinctively feel a bit fretified at the situation, the feeling finds its way onto my expression.

They stop. They pull up their masks so as to ameleorate my fears (something on the order of anonymous figures running around in bands intending either violence or ill-gotten profit through violence), making a bit of small talk.

I can’t quite recall or recreate the conversation, but the up-shot is that the kid speaking to me — black — clearly with his hip hop infused everyday slang — so as to make sure everything is cool here — they mean me no harm — referred to me as…


See, I’m used to situations where I’d be “brother”, or “amigo”, but I must say I was more uncomfortable at that point than when I first saw a bunch of masked youth walking in my direction. But I had to strain not to make a point of it, to smile and nod awkwardly without having anything to say that could possibly come out well. My discomfort level must have strained onto my face, as I had to explain that everything was okay and I was fine with them, and once again the word “nigger” was thrown in my lily-white direction.

I suppose we need to figure out what to do about that word, and debate amongst ourselves the boundaries of urban youth (um… that would be black)’s use of ther term amongst themselves, and its sociological import and all of that, to arrive at no clear markers. All I know for sure is that it doesn’t fit me, either as a racial slur or a term of
endearment, and thus my rule here is not to use it in reference to me, basically
by definition… find a different slur or find different a word of endearment. “Whigger”, for instance. Although to toss that word in my direction is semi-analogous (not entirely, of course) to slapping the back of your grandfather and using that other word.

Then again, I can say that I do indeed know what it is like to have that term used right to my my face. Granted, it’s an entirely different situation, which builds up to awkward as opposed to degrading.

One Response to “Race Relations 101”

  1. H. Lewis Smith Says:

    Most of white America isn’t aware of an anti-n-word movement presently building throughout the black community which is being directed primarily at black users of the word and other demeaning terms. Insofar, as Imus is concerned, everything is about timing and his was all wrong…of course this goes without saying that he had no business saying what he said in the first place…but he did get caught up in something that’s brewing within the black community. To learn more please go to:


Leave a Reply