" there’s a world of difference between the term “n—a” and “n—er.” The former “means ‘friend,’” she said, while the latter is a slur: “If I had put the word ending in ‘er,’ that would have been a very derogatory thing about Lena meaning she is less than me, and I view her as very above me. ‘A’ on the end means ‘my friend.’”
“I have been using these words since I started in comedy and guess what, people? I won’t stop anytime soon, just because your ass is up on Twitter,” she told HuffPo. “I have always used in my act every racial slur there is for Asians, blacks, gays, and Hispanics. To me, it’s acceptable if the joke is funny and if it is said in a context of no hate. It’s about taking the hate out of the word.”
Now, this really got on my nerves. I can brush aside her way of making a living because it is one thing to do it in your show, the people showing up know what to expect and are okay with it but to do this outside of a show rubbed me the wrong way. I mentioned that I found her explanation lame and who are these people that go to her shows anyways? and that led to a conversation about the n-word usage between me and a friend of mine(who is also nigerian). He says the n-word is just a word and people being all sensitive about it empowers it. That too rubbed me off the wrong way.
See, the n-word doesn't bother me as much as it does some black people but I also recognize that I am not African American and I am also not as knowledgeable about the whole slavery times as I should be. I remember in college, saying to my African American friend that I wonder why MLK is such a big deal, what exactly did he do? I remember him being very pissed and I couldn't understand it. I've learned now that just because I don't get it doesn't mean I should discount it. The n word is an emotional word for most african americans, I didn't experience stories from my grandparents and I did not grow up here. I equate it to expecting an African American to understand and feel an older Igbo Nigerian's pain about the Biafran war.
When I watched Kerry Washington and Jamie Foxx's press junket for Django Unchained, they both talked about a scene where Kerry gets whipped as a slave on an actual tree that was a whipping post and they filmed on an actual plantation. To hear them tell that story or even something as simple as watching the NAACP awards you sense this emotion that I know I don't possess. A friend of mine told me that he never really understood till he joined a frat and heard stories from his AA frat brothers. Sometimes, I think Nigerians are ignorant and prefer to live in their own world, some may consider us privileged that we come from a world where education ie college is not a choice, drugs are taboo etc but it is not everyone's reality. Look at some Tyler Perry movies, you hear a lot of Nigerians say how unrealistic it is but there's a reason it appeals to its audience, it may be their reality. Granted, there are some examples where the racism cry is just ridiculous, as my friend who made the original statement pointed out, it exists but it should not be a crutch. There's also that debate about black people finding the n word offensive yet using it quite liberally.
Ah well, my point is just every now and then, it doesn't hurt to take a step back and consider where people are coming from especially when we all come from different backgrounds. What do you guys think about the Lampanelli situation and the n-word usage?