Kabbala Tuesday

About N words

 

From: golden3000997
Date: Sun Mar 7, 2004 6:35 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] About N words

Hi Tarjei,

Your post popped up at me in the middle of a "High Beam Research" that I am doing right at the moment on the word "nigger".

I am not completely sure, though, by the stories you have told whether you agree with me that the use of the word "nigger" by black people among themselves is not a good thing.

I realize that the debate is a hot one and I also realize why each side thinks the way they do. But I am personally on the side that thinks that no one at all should use this word to describe themselves or anyone else. I feel that the "black" explanation is a rationalization and a cover for feelings they don't want to admit to.

This is the best article I have found so far in support of how I feel about the issue. I will add * [Editors note: The emphasized text will appear in red] where I would like to emphasis the text:

THE N WORD POWERFUL WORD SHOULDN'T BE USED BY EITHER RACE. (P-I Focus)

Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Seattle, WA); 2/4/1996

For black history month, let's declare a national moratorium on using the word ``nigger'' - not as a restriction of free speech but as a time for reflection on the evolution of our cultural identity.

Many blacks say ``nigger'' because we're too young to have a visceral reaction to the true power of the word. For the affirmative-action generation and generation X, calling one another ``nigger'' is a habit we've picked up from comedians such as Dick Gregory and Richard Pryor or rap artists such as Ice Cube.

We've learned to laugh at the word, to desensitize ourselves to it and ultimately to adopt it as our title when conversing with our own kind. It's a way of being in the club.

Calling each other ``nigger'' as a term of affection or affiliation is a grass-roots kind of reverse psychology, where terms normally applied to our culture by outside cultures as a form of ridicule - terms such as ``dope,'' ``down'' and ``bad'' - are used in a positive sense.

Simone de Beauvoir's book ``The Second Sex'' deals with the second-class status of women, but one passage, if paraphrased, relates as well to why the word ``nigger'' passes through generations as both a curse and a vaccine.

It would go like this: ``The child is at once its elder's double and another person ... Saddling the child with its own destiny is a way to proudly lay claim to one's own blackness and also a way of revenging one's self for it. The same process is found in drug addicts and in all who at once take pride in belonging to a certain confraternity and feel humiliated by the association.''

To be called a ``nigger'' traditionally is a curse. The word is designed to strip all African-descended people of their dignity and individual character in order to deny them rights to freedom and prosperity.

On some level, incorporating the word into our own sense of blackness gives us possession of its meaning and inoculates us against the disease of racism.

When comedian Dick Gregory published his autobiography ``Nigger'' in 1964, the title confronted an America in the throes of the showdown between Jim Crow and the civil-rights and black-power movements.

Gregory's book describes his ``nigger'' status during his World War II childhood - starving, shining shoes and having his teeth kicked in by a white man for touching a white woman's ankle while plying his trade.

The most touching part of the book is its dedication: ``Dear Momma - Wherever you are, if you hear the word `nigger' again, remember they are advertising my book.''

In my recollection that's the first time I ever saw the epithet used as a self-utilized commodity. In 1967, Muhammad Ali provided perhaps the greatest gesture of true political significance by a black sports figure. Ali refused to fight in Vietnam, offering an economic, profound explanation.

``I got nothin' against no Viet Cong. No Vietnamese never called me a nigger,'' Ali said.

By the 1970s, America was considerably more integrated, and the struggle for equality quieted down - at least until we heard from a new brand of comedian.

The racially based comedy of Richard Pryor made him a mainstream superstar.

Pryor was the first person who made me laugh when I heard the word ``nigger.'' He made the word funny. Before, it used to give me butterflies in my stomach, because it meant that someone was trying to take away your respect or your life.

My mother shook with rage every time she heard one of Pryor's routines. She lives with memories of an era that won't let her utter or laugh at the ``n'' word.

However controversial Pryor was, his voice was loved in the 'hood. People defended Pryor's use of the word, saying that he took ``the sting out of it.''

Pryor himself changed his mind on this issue, however.

His new autobiography, ``Pryor Convictions and Other Life Sentences'' details a trip to Africa in 1979, at the zenith of his popularity.

(my emphasis)

What awed Pryor about Kenya was the country's black-run government. Black faces appeared on both currency and coin, and balanced images of black people filled the national media. This experience of being in a society where blacks formed the dominant culture brought Pryor to an ``epiphany'' in a hotel lobby in Nairobi.

``There are no niggers here,'' he said to himself. ``The people still have their self-respect, their pride.''

This revelation changed Pryor's point of view. He returned to the United States wishing he had ``never uttered the word `nigger' onstage or off.''

Once Pryor openly disavowed the word in his act, he received death threats from fans and ridicule from his peers. Finally, he admitted that his voice was not his own.

``I wasn't Malcolm or Martin or anybody else,'' Pryor writes, just ``a drug-addicted, paranoid, frightened, lonely comedian who wanted to be liked, not hated.''

In a sad final note to the episode, he writes ``I didn't want racial struggles. I walked too far out on the wing ... and buckled under pressure.''

The 1980s roared in, and many of the advances hard won by black Americans started screeching to a standstill. As usual, in the face of adversity the culture invented a new idiom, and hip hop was born.

The form created an environment that Chuck D., of the pioneering band Public Enemy, likens to a ``black CNN.'' Rappers wrote rhymes and young America graduated from chanting Mother Goose rhymes to rhymes about the predicament of black America.

In the world of hip hop, nobody is shy about using the word ``nigger.'' One of the most successful rap groups ever is the now-defunct NWA - ``Niggas Wit' Attitude.''

The band's name was shocking, for sure, but it illustrated what was happening at street level. One of NWA's first hits was ``F tha Police,'' a rebel tune about the treatment of black citizens by the police which proved prescient when the Rodney King case became public, placing Los Angeles Police Chief William Gates only a hair's breadth from Bull Conner.

Some people say that the word ``nigger'' has evolved to be less hurtful than it once was. One is Russell Simmons, founder and CEO of Def Jam Records, according to Forbes the most profitable black-owned entertainment company in the world.

Despite criticism from the pulpits of Harlem to Capitol Hill about the vocabulary used by many of Def Jam's artists, Simmons doesn't back down.

``Twenty years ago, when black people called each other `nigger' it was self-defeating, an affirmation of being second-class,'' Simmons says. ``When we say `nigger' now, it's very positive.

(Christine's emphasis)

``Now all white kids who buy into hip-hop culture call each other `nigger' because they have no history with the word other than something positive. But if their parents say it, then they get offended.''

According to Simmons, it's a question of definition.

``When black kids call each other `a real nigger' or `my nigger,' it means you walk a certain way ... you have your own culture that you invent, so you don't have to buy into the U.S. culture that you're not really a part of. It means we're special, we have our own language.''

On the other hand, Simmons himself was once infuriated during a negotiation with a white-owned conglomerate, and exclaimed that he had gotten ``a nigger deal.'' What did the word imply that day?

``I speak two languages fluently,'' he says. ``When a white person calls me `nigger' in a negative way, it means zero - because of the way they interpret it. To them it means slave.''

The word in this context is literally meaningless, Simmons says, because his sense of self is so strong that ``nigger'' can't render him a slave.

But not all of us are fortunate to have the willpower and self-possession of Russell Simmons. For most black people, the common attitude is, ```Nigger' is a good word when a black person says it. It's bad when a white person says it.''

When I ask why we would want to lay claim to a title that isn't positive all the time, everybody's face goes blank.

So does mine. The question really is, does using the word ``nigger'' to define ourselves really change the status quo?

COPYRIGHT 1996 Seattle Post-Intelligencer. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the Dialog Corporation by Gale Group.

(Christine)

I remember the days when people made fun of Gloria Steinham for her almost militant insistence on the acceptance of the salutation "Ms." and her extremely vocal and active work to change the way "he" was used almost exclusively as the general pronoun in writing. I remember how much moaning and groaning there was about how "difficult" it would be to have to use "he and she..." or "he or she..." when writing. I am still jolted into awareness everytime I read an article where the person uses "she" as the general pronoun in a sentence. It still feels "odd" and "self-concious" and yet, always it feels good. It is such a powerful acknowledgement of the worth and value of "she" and all "shes" by extension.

Because this is my personal feeling and experience, I also feel the degradation and de-valuation everytime I hear the word "nigger" from anyone - black or white. And I believe that the negativity that word contains does not go away through rationalization.

Here is another interesting article on the subject and one which supports how I feel about it in relation to working with young people. I understand Paulina's point of view and give her enormous credit for being able to create bridges and bonds with her young students and the community at large. However, I still think more questions should be asked and the leaders of the black community (global and local) should be working to make sure that all young black people are truly aware of the history of this word and its use and meaning. Even a decade or two becomes "ancient history" to children and it is put forward that many young people do not have enough knowledge of what has been done and said and sacrificed in order to have this word removed from common usage. To accept its "casual" use by young people is to devalue that sacrifice which was made by both blacks and whites.

Play Gives Young African-Americans a Language Lesson

Morning Edition (NPR); 6/19/1996

Morning Edition (NPR)

06-19-1996

A sixth-grade teacher doesn't believe any use of derogatory terms should become part of our culture. So, she wrote a play which her students will perform in Philadelphia hoping they will learn about ``nigger.''

ALEX CHADWICK, Host: The power of language is undeniable - to elevate or to destroy. Over the past month, two black Philadelphia residents were forced to move from white neighborhoods after their homes were vandalized and spray-painted with racial slurs. In another well-publicized Pennsylvania incident, a white politician used racial epithets in a barroom argument in the state capital, Harrisburg. These incidents have increased tensions, but in at least one case they have also increased awareness. A Philadelphia teacher has written a play intended to get her students thinking about one of the most commonly used racial slurs. That word, which many people find offensive, is heard repeatedly in the following report by Elizabeth Blair.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, Reporter: The word `nigger' is all too easy to say, says Leslie Carliss [sp], a sixth-grade teacher at Schumacher Middle School [sp], a predominately black school in West Philadelphia.

LESLIE CARLISS, Sixth-Grade Teacher: We hear it on the radio, we hear it in the rap songs, we see the videos, and we think it's cool. I thought it was cool. I thought, hey, there's nothing wrong with it. But then, as I got older, I saw the effects of it.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: In particular, she saw a Black History Month production written and performed by some of the school's students.

LESLIE CARLISS: It was a good play, but they used the word `nigger' constantly, and I was looking around and no one was offended, no one was shocked, no one even thought, you know, `This is wrong.' And then I heard people in the hallway, saying, `Get off, nigger, go away, nigger,' just in general.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: So Carliss wrote her own play. On The Word `Nigger,' Pass It On takes place in the present. Most of the student actors play characters very much like themselves. Eleven-year-old Enoch Sterling [sp], who plays Enoch, tries to convince his family and friends to stop using the word.

[excerpt from play]

ENOCH STERLING, `Enoch': Listen you all, if all you all think of me after 10 years of friendship is being a nigger, I have to shake you all loose.

1st CHARACTER: Say what?

ENOCH STERLING: You heard me. I have to shake all negative people from me.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: Teacher Leslie Carliss tries to show how hard that is and how pervasive the word is in a scene of Enoch's family watching a comedy show on cable TV.

LESLIE CARLISS: And in this comedy show, we have blacks, you know, calling each other `niggers,' and `my nigger this' and `nigger that' and `listen, nigger,' and everyone's laughing and having a good time. And then he asks him, you know, `Do you know what a nigger means? I mean, you're looking at it, you listen to it, you say it, but do you know what it means?' And they say `no,' and then he pulls out the dictionary, and he finds the word nigger, and he reads to them what the definition is.

[excerpt from play]

ENOCH STERLING: Here. `Offensive slang for a black person or dark-skinned people.' Hear that? Offensive, or lazy, rude, or crass.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: But some people think that definition is outdated. Mark Madison [sp], spokesman for the Philadelphia-based rap label Ruff House Records [sp], says the way the word is used now could be an indication that we've moved forward.

MARK MADISON, Ruff House Records: It has taken us a long time to get to a point where it has been put behind us. Now, it's in everyday use, and it's enough to drive a lot of people crazy, but a lot of people really don't care. I mean, it's just in everyday use, but every group, every individual, has, you know, their own meaning with the word. I, personally, I choose not to use the word at all, but, you know, to each their own, basically, and it's not like I'm funning around with it, but it is very touchy, and because with one group of individuals you can say `what's up' and use the word, and it wouldn't be a problem, but with another culture, they can come to someone and use the word and there will be total chaos and mass confusion.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: There shouldn't be a difference between when blacks use the word and when whites or when anyone else uses, says Jason Neinschwander [sp], who is completing a Ph.D. at Temple University. He says the word was derogatory from the beginning, and he doesn't accept the argument that a culture will embrace such a term as a way of denying its meaning.

JASON NEINSCHWANDER, Temple University: In terms of popular entertainment, the group NWA, the group Niggers With Attitude, you have critics that say it was supposed to convey a new sentiment about the word in that it was embraced. I think that's rubbish.

Given the superficial acceptance of the word in popular culture, you hear young white kids all the time saying to themselves, `Well, if they call each other that, why can't I use the word?' If you hear a young white boy say it, just because he has heard the lyric in the song, that doesn't change the meaning of the word.

I wouldn't say that it is really accepted as a term of endearment. That's where you get into the whole perniciousness of the word. In fact, this is not a word that people of African descent originally called each other. This is a word that has been imposed so that it is taking one tool of oppression, which is language, and using it on a day-to-day basis. You hear people talk about, `Oh, people are too sensitive when it comes to words, people are too sensitive when it comes to language,' but language is key when you deal with power.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: Many of the students in the Schumacher Middle School play say they have used the word without thinking about it. Acting in this production has given 13-year-old James Glover [sp] a new understanding of what it means to use the word to address his friends.

[excerpt from play]

2nd CHARACTER: All right, man, go practice. Peace, man. I'll see you all tomorrow. I'll stop you yet, nigger.

3rd CHARACTER: What'd you call me?

2nd CHARACTER: I didn't call you nothing. I didn't call you anything.

3rd CHARACTER: Did you call me a `nigger'?

2nd CHARACTER: Yeah, man. So what?

[interviewing]

JAMES GLOVER, 13-Year-Old: It's about black people bringing us down by calling each other `niggers,' and some people just don't like it, you know. They don't like being called a `nigger.'

ELIZABETH BLAIR: How has this play changed your attitude?

JAMES GLOVER: It ain't- It ain't changed me that much, because I still call people `niggers' sometimes. But then, when I do, I stop to think about it.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: And what do you think?

JAMES GLOVER: I think they're here aren't a nigger. None of us are here are niggers.

[voice-over]

ELIZABETH BLAIR: It's harmful for anyone to use the word, says 11-year-old Latasha Harvin [sp], who has never used it herself.

LATASHA HARVIN, 11-Year-Old: Because my mom always tell me that when slavery was here, they used to call black people `nigger,' and a nigger was just an ignorant person.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: [interviewing] So why do you think blacks use it?

LATASHA HARVIN: They try to be cool, and they just use it in raps and movies to make money. That's all.

[voice-over]

ELIZABETH BLAIR: In two weeks, the students at Schumacher Middle School will begin summer vacation. Sixth-grade teacher Leslie Carliss hopes the play's message will stick through the summer. With all of their spare time, she hopes they will come up with a more positive word to use when they talk to each other.

LESLIE CARLISS: I want them to realize, you are an African-American or a black person, anything you want to be, but you're not a nigger, you know, and you didn't come from niggers. You know, you came from queens and kings. I mean, mm - you know, we got them young, and they can remember this and pass it on. I hope they have the guts to pass it on. That's my wish for them.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: The sixth-grade class at Schumacher Middle School performs On The Word `Nigger,' Pass It On later this week.

For National Public Radio, I'm Elizabeth Blair in Philadelphia.

[This program has been professionally transcribed by Journal Graphics.

JG has used its best efforts to assure the transcript accurately reflects NPR's original broadcast, but makes no guarantees or representations that the transcription is identical to the original NPR broadcast.

The official record of an NPR broadcast is the audio tape of the original broadcast.]

...................................................................................................................................

From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Sun Mar 7, 2004 6:44 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] About N words

At 15:35 07.03.2004, Christine wrote:

I am not completely sure, though, by the stories you have told whether you agree with me that the use of the word "nigger" by black people among themselves is not a good thing.

You have a very valid pont, Christine. But I never forget the line from "Beverly Hills Cop" (number one) when Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte have strolled into a redneck honkey tonk joint, Eddie the outlaw from prison having borrowed Nick's badge, and when the situation gets hostile, he shoots, "I'm your nightmare - a nigger with a badge!"

Tarjei

...................................................................................................................................

From: golden3000997
Date: Sun Mar 7, 2004 6:47 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] About N words

Of course it's funny - but it's about power, isn't it? Look who he's talking to - he's throwing it back in the face of people who use it at its worst!

...................................................................................................................................

From: Tarjei Straume
Date: Sun Mar 7, 2004 7:04 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] About N words

At 15:47 07.03.2004, Christine wrote:

Of course it's funny - but it's about power, isn't it? Look who he's talking to - he's throwing it back in the face of people who use it at its worst!

Exactly. Pryor's point is valid; this word should not be thrown around; there is too much stigma attached. What Eddie Murphy did in "Beverly Hillls Cop" was to confront the issue where it really needs to be confronted and add hilarity to it at the same time. And that's a stroke of genius.

Tarjei

...................................................................................................................................

From: golden3000997
Date: Sun Mar 7, 2004 7:05 am
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] About N words

Life after the Cosby show: activist-actor celebrates 30 years of wedded bliss, continues fight against black stereotypes on TV. (Bill Cosby)

Ebony; 5/1/1994; Randolph, Laura B.

For Bill Cosby, 1994 started off with a joyous celebration. In January, the legendary comedian and his wife, the former Camille Olivia Hanks, celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. To commemorate the special day, the couple hosted an elegant dinner party at their home in New York City. "If I do say so myself," says Cosby, "it was lovely."

Lovely, however, is not how Cosby would describe the status of African-Americans on television. In fact, two years after The Cosby Show ended its glorious, history-making prime time run, the man who created the series finds it difficult, often painful, to watch television. "I see myself as an African-American who is exploited," he candidly declares.

He can't believe the way Black people are being portrayed on the small screen. Not on the eve of the 21st century. Not 40 years after Amos 'n' Andy. And certainly not two short years after his multiple Emmy Award-winning hit completed its historic run, a run that spanned eight seasons and exploded the myth that White America would not watch a show about an educated, professional, intact Black family.

Like many African-Americans, Cosby sincerely believed that when the series ended its prime time run two years ago, it left a lasting legacy: the end of the stereotypical and one-dimensional fashion in which Blacks traditionally have been portrayed on television.

On the final episode, when Cosby took Phylicia Rashad in his arms and danced off the set, if there was one thing he knew, it was that the Huxtables had forever changed the way African-Americans would be depicted on the small screen.

"Not only did I believe it," Cosby says today, "I knew it was going to happen. That's how sure I was."

There was good reason for his certainty. After all, from the moment it debuted in September 1984, The Cosby Show wasn't just another situation comedy. It was a national treasure. A runaway critical and commercial success, the series won numerous Emmy Awards and earned NBC a cool billion dollars. More significantly, it was watched by more people than any other situation comedy in the history of television. (At its height in 1986, more than half of the country's households watching TV on Thursday night were tuned into The Cosby Show.)

In short, the series annihilated every excuse - from "It won't make money" to "No one will watch it" - ever given by the White men who run television for showcasing Black stereotypes over, as Cosby puts it, "African-Americans acting like human beings."

That the television industry has chosen to ignore the unprecedented success of The Cosby Show is what Cosby finds so disappointing - and so galling. It is why, at age 56, the legendary comedian says he is "weary." And it is why he says his post-Cosby Show life "has not been as happy as it ought to be in terms of the victories that our enemies have sustained in making us appear to have gained nothing academically, behaviorally, economically."

His passion to change the images of African-Americans in the media, to stir things up in the hope of turning them around, is what made him deliver what he calls his "passionate cry" to his peers when he was inducted into The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.

"I'm begging you all now," Cosby implored the audience of imagemakers, "stop this horrible massacre of images that is being put on the screen now...It isn't us...I don't know where they get these people from. Drive-by, I guess. Writers drive by and see people on the street, and I don't know if these people [writers] are sad because Amos 'n' Andy won't come back, but ladies and gentlemen, really and truly, The Cosby Show should have shown these writers something about our people."

Should have but, as Cosby himself concedes, didn't. After the speech, "I had people who came up and told me it was a very brave speech and they wish they had the courage to say those things," Cosby recalls.

That's what they said. But two years after the speech, America's favorite dad says all evidence suggests that his words fell on deaf ears.

"One thing that stands out in my mind was a statement from someone there that evening who said, |What can we do?" he recalls. "Well, after you give a speech like that and people come to you and say, |What can we do?' then it's quite evident that, number one, they weren't listening and, number two, they don't want to do anything."

That ambivalence figured prominently among the reasons Cosby tried to buy NBC last year. He was also painfully aware of just how little access to this powerful medium Blacks have to tell their story. (African-Americans own only approximately one percent of all U.S. broadcasting companies.)

"My partners and I went very, very far and our presentation was first rate," says the star of his efforts to turn NBC into the Network of Bill Cosby. In the end, however, "I just could not generate the rest of the money," he says.

Though his efforts to purchase NBC didn't work out, since The Cosby Show completed its final season, its star and creator has continued to work extensively in television. Most recently, he returned to his historic role of Scotty for a two-hour television movie of the classic I Spy series. (In 1966, his co-starring role opposite Robert Culp broke the racial barrier of television. He was the first Black actor to co-star with a White actor.)

He also has agreed to star in four, two-hour "light mystery" television movies that will spin off in the '94-'95 season to an NBC series.

"You're going to get Bill Cosby," he says, explaining what his fans can expect from the upcoming series. "When I see an opporturnity to make people laugh without it getting in the way of a good story, it will happen."

His fans are hoping the new series, tentatively titled, The Cosby Mysteries, will fare better than the two shows he produced shortly after The Cosby Show left prime time. Here and Now, the series he created about a graduate student (played by his TV son Malcolm-Jamal Warner) working at a Harlem youth center, and You Bet Your Life, a '90s version of the classic Groucho Marx show in which Cosby also starred, were both canceled due to poor ratings.

Though he says he understands why Here and Now didn't make it ("It wasn't well written"), the cancellation of You Bet Your Life hit Cosby hard. "We were bringing on people who, as individuals and small organizations, were making a difference in urban communities and we were celebrating those people," he says, explaining how he used the show as a vehicle to ordinary people doing extraordinary things. "That is what hurt me more than anything when You Bet Your Life didn't make it," he says. "I clearly felt that this was something that wasn't fair - that a show like this had to go because the numbers were not as strong."

But what hurts the star far more than the cancellation of either show are the types of programs that seem to flourish. "Def Comedy Jam is like the Amos 'n' Andy of the '90s...," says Cosby. "When you watch it, you hear a statement or a joke and it says |niggers.' And sometimes they say |we niggers.' And we are laughing [at it], just as we laughed at Amos 'n' Andy in the '50s. But we don't realize that there are people watching who know nothing about us. This is the only picture they have of us other than our mothers going to work in their homes and pushing their children in the carriages and dusting their houses...And they say, |Yeah, that's them. Just like we thought.'

"Stepin Fetchit was a caricature that no African-American wants to be labeled as," Cosby continues. "But when you look back at Stepin Fetchit, you have to say at least he didn't call Black women bitches and ho's and he didn't call himself a nigger. That's a very powerful statement as far as I'm concerned."

COPYRIGHT 1994 Johnson Publishing Co.

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From: Frank Thomas Smith
Date: Mon Mar 8, 2004 8:24 am
Subject: RE: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] About N words and such..

As long as we're being anecdotal and talking about girlfriends: I also had an African-American (to be modern) girlfriend, in Germany. She was beautiful, spoke very good German with an American accent (had been married to a German) and was an actress, so she was, in Germany, exotic, and knew it. The word for Negro in German is "Neger", "Negerin" feminine. But at some point, probably following the American lead, they used "Schwarzer" (black), "Schwarze" feminine. Now, many Germans are very anxious to show that they're not racist, which is understandable given the history, and sometimes said silly things to prove it, such as deploring the racial tensions in the U.S. and on several occasions, saying to my friend: But you're not black, the implication being that brown is better. She would just smile and walk away. Another time we were with a white American whom we had just met, and as we were all originally from New York, we were talking about that city and Coney Island came up. He said: Yeah, too many suntans there for me though. I glanced quickly at my friend, wondering if she would blast the jerk, but she just stared into the distance (normally she was quite choleric). He caught my glance, realized what he had done and changed the subject quickly. Later I asked her if she had caught the remark, and she said yes, "White people are all prejuduced; they can't help it." Since "all white people" included me, I was about to react, but thought better of it, thinking that perhaps she was right, so let it go. But the remark has stayed with me.

Another one. We have a small Waldorf school here in the mountains of Argentina. Yesterday a couple came to register their 3 year old child for kindergarten. They live about 60 kms, from the school though, and I told them I thought that was rather far for a small child to travel every day, but they insisted they could do it. They had heard of Waldorf educaton and were enthusiastic about it, but admitted that their prime concern was that where they live a white child is picked on, hit and its things stolen, and has a hard time in school. Negro or negrito here doesn't mean of African descent, but Indian. The people involved, Indios, don't like either term, and prefer to call temselves "indíginas", for the time being anyway. It would seem that, to a certain extent at least, minorities, regardless of race, have a hard time everywere. I have a Jewish cousin from New York. He got a scholorship to a predominantly Negro college in Florida because he was white. Anecdotes abound. I think it's great when minorities can laugh at themselves - like the guy from Tel Aviv who, someone here said, was anti-Semitic because he likes to tell Jewish jokes. Frank

[From the thread "Kabbala Tuesday - now: Judaism is not passe"]

At 02:08 05.03.2004, Christine wrote in a personal vein:

When I was working the phones, I had some long conversations with young black women who were my colleagues. Sometimes, they would get some rap

Copyright © 1996 by National Public Radio. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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