A TRIBUTE TO THE CHILDREN FOR NECESSARY CHANGE
When youths of African descent are seen constantly using the “n” word, it’s because they do in public what many of us adults do in private. By openly identifying with the “n” word, our children are revealing our primary problem. Despite being the mothers and fathers of all humanity, our primary problem is that the “n” word legacy, with its inference that black is bad, evil, ugly, inferior, bestial or subhuman, has blinded us to the magnificence of our own true identity and self-worth as a people. When we look in the mirror, many of us are not comfortable with what we see or who we are. So, even while some of us achieve great success, we all know, deep down inside, that real freedom is still missing. And most of us are so busy struggling just to make ends meet and survive that we don’t recognize that the key to our survival is to know who we are. We have overlooked the natural connection that flows from identity and thoughts to words and behavior. All of our behavior is directly linked to what we think and feel about who we say we are. The “n” word identity is slavery based and shapes a consciousness and a pattern of behavior like that of a slave. Developing the will to let go of this false identity will free us to reclaim our African identity as the First Humans, and in turn, help us reprogram our minds to fix our other problems.
The lie of “white supremacy” cannot survive without the lie of “black inferiority.” Every time we call ourselves the “n” word, we support both lies and we also racially profile ourselves. We passionately protest being treated like “n’s,” but many of us actually believe that’s what we are. The reality of the plain truth is that as long as we think we’re “n’s,” not only are we going to be treated like “n’s,” but many of us are going to be acting like “n’s.” Today in America, people of African descent are still treated insultingly by those who have been conditioned to think that we are to be viewed as somewhat less than real human beings and deserve to be identified and treated as such. That is the base message embedded in the “n” word that remains clear in the heart and soul of America, no matter what any of us say in defense of our claims that the word has been turned around. Besides, where is the proof that we turned the word around? Has our behavior towards each other been transformed to eliminate the negativity generated by the old meaning and reflect the positivity claimed in the new meaning? To see the answer, we need to look at what happened to two of the greatest Hip Hop artists of all time who pushed the word the most.
Tupac Shakur (RIP), who redefined the “n” word as “Never ignorant getting goals accomplished,” and Biggie Smalls (RIP) identified themselves as real “n’s.” To some brothers, being a real “n” means you’re one of the baddest or craziest “n’s” on the block. To maintain your rep, you do the things that real “n’s” do. Biggie and Tupac got shot down in the prime of their lives by somebody who was probably just trying to prove that he was a real “n.” Our hearts go out to all of the families who have been victims of that kind of senseless, self-destructive behavior. To achieve lasting unity to solve the problems we face, we must love and respect ourselves enough to let go of any version of a word originally designed to demonize our ancestors. Further, our use of the word encourages others to make mockery of our history and the suffering we endured. Instead of trying to turn around a term that’s loaded with poison, let’s just turn it loose. In one of their last recordings, Tupac called on us to make a change in how we treat each other and Biggie reminded us that there is life after death. We know that life has not been easy for our children, because the same pain they feel, we feel. Now that the expressions of their truth have helped us to see the extent of our condition, surely, we must work together to make some necessary change.
Personal change is not easy, and it will not come until we admit in our own hearts that change is needed. This is truly a time that calls for both healing and change. As we continue to share our grief following the terror of 9/11, the devastation by Katrina, and then the travesty to Trayvon, let’s remember that our history in surviving extreme tragedy gives us an opportunity to bring change that will help us and America to heal. In order for America to heal from the terror inflicted upon her, America has to atone for the terror she has inflicted upon us. For many of our people, the call for atonement of the 1995 Million Man March was sealed in our souls, and it is still a divine work in progress. With the two elections of President Obama, America has taken big steps towards atonement and is now in the unprecedented position where it is possible for the symbolic lion to connect in the spirit of atonement with the symbolic lamb. At a time like this, how special would it be if we decided to stop identifying with the “n” word and began to teach our children to do the same? The Association of Black Psychologists has condemned our use of the “n” word as self-hateful and self-destructive. That position deserves our serious consideration. Removing the veil of the “n” word legacy is our duty to our ancestors and a blessing for the entire world.