When MC extraordinaire Nas wanted to call his 2008 album N****r there were rumors that the record company threatened to drop him if he didn’t change the title. There was even a plan in place for the government of NYC to divest their financial support from Universal’s parent company if he refused to comply. In the end Nas gave in but in a show of defiance he left the album untitled. Flash forward to Tom Hank’s son Chet attempting to “school” people on his need and right to use the word n-word but as you can see there’s no uproar from the mainstream and certainly no outrage. It’s expected for the white man to have access to that word and have free use of it just as he had free use of our bodies and labor in the past.
I too experienced something somewhat similar to what Nas did all those years ago. As a young 14 year old I was given by my Mom a copy of Die Nigger Die by H. Rap Brown and I can still remember the startled and somewhat surprisingly angry looks I received when I was reading it with the cover clearly visible on the train in mid-Manhattan. What was particularly surprising was that it was almost always…no to be honest it was only whites who reacted to me. I began to wonder what could be making so many white people around me so angry about this word on the cover. After a while I started to enjoy their obvious discomfort, one man even asked me, “Where did I get THAT book”! I think I laughed a little because he literally looked like he had swallowed a frog. It was then that I realized that the angry faces and looks were very common and familiar. They were envious! They weren’t upset because it was and still is a slur they were mad that I was using it. If you think about it the word does ‘belong’ to white people after all. A writer and journalist that I follow on twitter once tweeted something I have never forgotten. “The N-word never belonged to Black people and when whites want it they will simply take it back.”
Make no mistake, Oscar winner Tom Hank’s son in his online “n****r” tantrums is not saying the n word for the first time he is simply exercising his white supremacy rights to tell us…Black people to stfu about it when he does it. He is not asking for permission he is telling us just like Darren Wilson “told” Mike Brown that he does not have to respect the dignity or life of a Black person. Black lives do not matter is the message and we have been hearing that loud and clear long before the American constitution declared all of us less than human. Even if he kept it private Chet’s vile desires it would still be really disturbing, but this tacky attention seeking public display is all together another matter. The only reason why he is online talking about his “rights” is because he expects the systems of racism to uphold his privilege to do so. In other words if #BlackLivesMatter than I can call you “N****r”.
I use the word system deliberately because that is the foundation that men, people and organizations like Chet stand on. Everything always begins with the system. In this case the system is white supremacy. This is the system in which we are all born into and has been the prevalent human system for several hundred years; it allows white people to first establish and then maintain dominance over other human beings all over the globe. It works so well whites DO NOT have to be even present for it to work. The system sustains itself by establishing a pattern and then this pattern resets itself anytime anyone or anything disturbs the signal and frequency of that pattern. This well established and maintained pattern will be the cause of some incident or event. The Hanks rant is one of these so-called events.
The high profile of #BlackLivesMatter and #HandsUpDontShoot are the forces attempting to disrupt that pattern and in order to put the “n****rs” in their place in walks the usual suspect a privileged white male racist publically reminding all of these uppity, trouble maker Blacks and their supporters that they are all nothing but n****rs. This slur was designed and used to precisely negate the existence and esteem of Black people and all white people yes ALL white people know this. I stress the public nature of this event/attack on the sovereignty of Blackness because the publicity is a part of the pattern. It is not this one event it is hundreds, thousands, years and decades of constant and similar events. The events are a problem but the pattern is what sustains them and the system…… as we have all seen literally kills. People like Chet Hanks are disappointing but the sad truth is that they’re expected and they always show up. For all those white so people sick of hearing #BlackLivesMatter how about this one….#STOPWHITESUPREMACY.