Of course I’ve used the N word from time to time, but I am not racist. You should feel the same way too.
The United States of America is a big gumbo pot with all sorts of flavors and colors. When we simmer together with our rich history, we get a rich cultural stew that all the world just wishes they could get a taste of. Being raised in Snellville, Georgia, I always had good experience with our coloreds housekeeping in the Big House.
My favorite was Big Momma’ Jackson. Man, could she make some good waffles and chicken in heavy syrup. She was like a second mother to me, always combing my hair and listening to me go on and on about my life. There was a sort of ‘South Comfort’ and understanding we all had with each other, the same sort of understanding and love we have always had between each other in the deep south.
If I used the n’ word, people know either I was steamed or just using it as a term of endearment, just like you see the little baggy pants rappers and basketball players calling each other on the tv these days. Are they racists for saying the word? Of course not, that is impossible! You cannot be racist against your own people, and the same logic applies to me. I am not racist, I am just using local color dialect.
But apparently there are people who do not see things that way. When I moved to New York for culinary school, I received a nasty shock. My first cooking lab partner was a young colored woman from Brooklyn. She had a Hispanic accent and yet the neat cornrow hair that our sharecropper’s children would wear out there in the summer fields. I told her that she had ‘such beautiful, unkinked hair for a colored girl’ and boy, let me tell you, you would have thought that I stamped my foot and said “Hello, Good day”, to that mean on Hitler fellow.
She snapped her neck and cut her eyes, putting up her hands to my face and told me to ‘take my big ol honky-tonk back to Georgia’ and it hurt me so much, you all, but you know those other students in that classroom applauded her? A few days later I received notice that I had to visit the Dean of Students, who informed me that I would have to go before a review board for my language. I did not understand what he meant.
Apparently, in New York, you do not refer to people of color as ‘coloreds’, as would seem logical. Apparently, I should have called the girl Hispanic or Latina. Traditional coloreds, you are supposed to call them ‘Afro-American’ or even ‘the black’s community’. I was hearing all these words and phrases I never heard, but I wondered something: what about me, what about Monroe’s culture?
In my culture, it is okay to say ‘N’ and even negro. There is a United Negro College Fund that my father always donated our money to and my sister’s husband is part of the National Assoication for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). So just right there, that should tell these New Yorkers that Colored and Negro is still used even by national organizations: so why act like it is not?
Suffice it to say, I signed a statement admitting I was wrong so I would not be expelled on my first day, formally apologized to that young woman (with the neat cornrows, which were remarkably good-grade) and made sure to oppress my own cultural upbringing, because heaven forbid I get to talk like us Southerners talk.
I bring all this up because I am really hurt with how the media is treating our sweetheart grandmother, Paula Deen. I understand what she means: we were reared in the same culture. That woman is not mean-spirited, but just speaks from the culture in which she was raised.
Seeing meme-o-grams like the one below bring up all that hurt in my heart, just like the day that pretty colored girl in cooking lab dared think I was racist.