You'll never be one of us
To Edwin Decker: I read your June 27 "Sordid Tales" column on the N-word, and while I feel that you are sincere in what you say, I have to disagree with a few points.
You state that "you want so badly to be a part of this world." But, the fact is, you can never be a part of this world. Yes, you can be down with hip-hop culture and truly love everything about it. But, you will never be black. And, as such, you can never really feel the fellowship that we feel when a friend or family member calls us "nigga" or the pain and outrage we feel when someone who is not black takes it upon themself to use the phrase.
KRS-ONE rapped, "What goes around comes around I figga / now we got white kids callin themselves nigga." Black and/or hip-hop is the popular culture now. All kids wanna dress in the hip-hop style, use the lingo, copy the lifestyle. They want to claim that they are from the ghetto. They only feel that way because they have never lived that way. Only a fool would want to live in a poverty-stricken, crime-ridden, drug-fueled neighborhood. Everybody wants to be black. But, nobody really wants to be black!
The word "nigger" has been re-oriented as "nigga." We took a negative and turned it into as much of a positive as we possibly could. But, it is we as African-Americans who share that pain. White America has not earned the right to be part of this fellowship. And, they never can. I very rarely use the term unless it is with my very close, black friends. I have several white friends. My best friend of the last 25 years is white. He would never think to utter that phrase. He knows that that would be out of line. And, I would not so much be offended, but it would not be appreciated. And you, sir, should not give other white people the idea that it is OK to say that to random black people. Because, honestly, that could get them popped in the mouth.
It's all about respect. No white person should make a rationalization that it's OK to use that term with any black person. If you have black friends who don't mind it, then go right ahead and say it (to those friends only). Gwenyth Paltrow should feel free to call Kanye and Jay-Z "nigga" all day long if they are cool with it. But, she should not be surprised when people get a little heated when she puts it out on Twitter.
I don't know your friends or the circles in which you travel. However, I would venture to guess that it might make them a little uncomfortable, as well. Still, it was a good article, and well-meaning. Just wanted to throw in my two cents.
Michael Kimbell, College Area
You on the left—join hands
Evan McLaughlin, the political director for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, is a man to like and admire, with considerable political acumen. I wish his July 3 letter to the editor were less aimed at what went wrong (or not) in the June primary and more on how the left and its constituencies can join forces in the campaigns for November. The left-over-right registration advantage in San Diego is enough to keep progressive majorities on the City Council if the constituent parts work together, rather than each advancing its own goals.
Attorney and progressive organizer Cory Briggs, quoted in the June 13 CityBeat, is correct that the left is fractured. It doesn't coalesce well or maintain the level of solidarity needed to get majorities into office regularly. It should join the forces within itself. That's the thing that will get more progressive representation at all levels and do so more effectively than reviewing old campaigns.
Our friends on the left, from center to fringe, should ignore conservative criticisms wherever and however they appear but pay attention to what its own folks tell it about elections.
Jim Varnadore, City Heights