SlutWalk Protestors Still Defending ‘Nigger’ Use

Few things make me happier in the morning than laughing with the @parlourmagazine Grandaddy at things like this and reading anything by Latoya Peterson over at Racialicious. Today, Ms. Peterson wrote that some of the misled SlutWalk protestors that either carried or agreed with a sign quoting John Lennon’s “Woman is the nigger of the world” verse meant to be a unifying term, were failing. And by failing, I mean when the use of the word “nigger” came up, they reverted to silly musings like “rappers use it all of the time.”

Wow.

Here are a few quotes from one of my favorite writers, arguing the ridiculousness of defending the use of a word that non-brown folks don’t have to grapple with everyday on a daily, therefore don’t have the same history with. Unfortunately, this mean the ignorant parties, still don’t understand that if they use “nigger” it’s not unifying, it’s upsetting.

“But more to the point, the sign in question was about claiming identities. Slut isn’t an identity I would claim – I have no personal experience with it. But the application of the idea that woman is the nigger of the world to people who nigger has never applied is puzzling, to say the least. First, it would assume that all women are in the same boat. And as the statistics show when you start breaking down issues of wealthrepresentationhealth,maternal wellness, and just about any other measure, that would be a lie. It’s also trying to pull the experiences and pain of a term on to one’s body without ever shouldering the burden that goes with that term. To me, that’s as asinine as me trying to adopt an anti-Asian slur or an anti-gay slur. Those kind of words would never be leveled at me. I never have to labor underneath their weight. I am not a part of intra-community discussions around those terms. No one has ever tried to make me fear them with those words. I don’t face that set of issues. I don’t carry those burdens. Therefore, it makes no sense to keep ham-fistedly applying terms that don’t fit. For a woman to reclaim slut, it would imply that they are not apologizing for living up to the idea of the slur.”

And elsewhere:

“It’s kind of hilarious when people just point at rap when nigga/nigger isn’t the most used term by a fucking longshot. The Hip Hop Word Count project is still under construction, but here’s one small study indicating that profanity (fuck and shit, respectively) are the most used terms. Nigga is up there, but it really depends on the artist you listen to.”

And:

What Matters is Solidarity

Which is where the issue comes again. Now, John Lennon and Yoko Ono would not be subjects of anti-black racism. They are not the authorities on how terms used to police black bodies should be used. However, the first time I was tipped to this song, way back in 2008, the conversation we had then was much more exploratory. The comments were lost in the Disqus transition, but my tone was a bit different. Why? Because we were looking at the context of the song and when it was written. See, the thing I haven’t had a chance to really parse out was where John and Yoko felt they were in society. John Lennon spent seven minutes explaining a two minute song. (Which I believe is far longer than Nas spent trying to explain his meaning.) He did this for a reason.

Because he wanted people to understand he was in solidarity with this struggle. That’s why he and Yoko approached different black organizations before the song came out, and held a press conference where they specifically invited black media. (Why he and Yoko didn’t ask black feminists how they felt is a bit beyond me.) They wanted to make sure their intent was heard. But more important than intent was action. What else were Yoko and John doing?

Standing in solidarity with struggles of people around the world.

This is why I asked “Can we use it in a context that is supposed to belie gender solidarity, without explicitly being in racial solidarity?”

If we look at the other tracks on the album, there’s a tribute to Angela Davis, a reflection on the Attica Prison riots,songs about the situation in Northern Ireland, as well as work on education, feminism, and unity. So, while we can debate if “woman is the nigger of the world” is a true phrasing, or reflective of current situations in feminism, Yoko and John truly and sincerely believed they were speaking from a place of radical solidarity. And they were both very concerned that their meaning came through clearly, that they did not offend those who they wanted to stand with. Contrast that with what happened on the SlutWalk NYC Facebook wall.”

Why can’t people just think about others before they say ignorant things? I mean … *shakes head like a cartoon character*

Oh, and here’s John and Yoko’s “Woman is the Nigger of the World” for reference below. Like I’ve said many a time with regards to Kanye West, I see where they were going, but perhaps there was another way to make this point:

  • Donnnie

    “If you define ‘niggers’ as someone whose lifestyle is defined by others, whose opportunities are defined by others, whose role in society are defined by others, then Good News! You don’t have to be black to be a ‘nigger’ in this society. Most of the people in America are ‘niggers’. – Ron Dellums – Co-Founder and Chairman of The Congressional Black Caucus. US Congressman 1971-1998. Currently Mayor of Oakland, CA.