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May 7, 2003

Right Wingaz Wit Attitude (An N-Word Double Feature)

The N word (which I will henceforth refer to as "Ninja", in the tradition of Sacha Jenkins) is a hot news item today. First I saw this strange tale of a Florida radio host who thinks calling Black people "Ninjas" is no different than calling Republicans "right wingers":

Using n-word endangers talk host's diversity role

A national debate over use of the ''n-word'' has barreled into Broward County, and threatens to knock a local radio personality out of his appointed spot on the School Board's Diversity Committee.

Several leaders are calling for conservative radio talk show host Steve Kane to be removed from the committee, following a debate last week on affirmative action at Deerfield Beach High School. Before dozens of students, Kane used the racial slur several times, even after he was asked to refrain.

Doing little to douse the controversy, Kane has defended his use of the word. He argues that he was attempting to demystify the term because arbiters of political correctness have made its mention taboo. He compared calling someone by that name to labeling a person with a conservative viewpoint a "right winger.''

''I didn't use it as an epithet,'' Kane said. "I used it as an example of a pejorative word. There was nothing wrong with my use of it, though I concede it's politically incorrect to use it in any context. But quite frankly, I'm not politically correct...''

Politically correct? As I said to a friend's journal, I've always hated that phrase, and the feat of "ignorance is strength" rhetorical alchemy it is used to achieve. How it lets every type of bigot pose self-righteously like they are the true victims of intolerance, and pointing out their bigotry makes us the real bigots. Or as my friend quoted in another post:

"We have now reached the point where every goon with a grievance, every bitter bigot, merely has to place the prefix, 'I know this is not politically correct, but...' in front of the usual string of insults in order to be not just safe from criticism, but actually a card, a lad, even a hero. Conversely, to talk about poverty and inequality, to draw attention to the reality that discrimination and injustice are still facts of life, is to commit the sin of political correctness. Anti-PC has become the latest cover for creeps. It is a godsend for every curmudgeon and crank, from fascists to the merely smug." ---Finian O`Toole, The Irish Times, 5 May 1994

Anyway soon after reading that piece I made another Ninja sighting in the campus paper of California State University Chico:

'America's most loaded word' finds its way to class

Tupac used it. Chris Rock uses it. But what about Chico students? Is it ever OK to say [ninja]?

In his four years at Chico State University, there is one night De'Aunta Richmond will never forget. It was a Saturday night. It was the night he got chased down an alley.

It was the night he was first called a [ninja].

Richmond grew up about 10 minutes outside of Berkeley and moved to Chico in August 1999. Two nights before classes started, Richmond went to visit his cousin in his apartment on West Fourth Avenue.

He started walking back to his Mechoopda Hall dorm room around 11 p.m. On his way, he passed by a young woman stumbling through the street. She was white and obviously drunk.

Richmond put his arm around her waist and helped her to the side of the road. When they reached the safety of the sidewalk, they were standing directly under a street light.

Four white men watched from the porch of a nearby house. "Do you see that [ninja] with that white girl?" one of them yelled. Richmond couldn't believe they'd be talking about him.

"The first time you're called that you have to step back and think about it," Richmond said. "I didn't have time to think because I knew they were coming for me."

The men jumped off the porch and chased Richmond down a side road for more than two blocks. He arrived back in his room out of breath, in tears and desperately wanting to leave Chico.

It was the first time he'd ever been called a [ninja], but it wouldn't be the last...

Posted by jsmooth995 at May 7, 2003 7:25 PM

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