My seven-month old daughter can cuss alongside the best of them.
In fact, she has stumbled upon the worst expletive of them all. It goes like this: Ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma.
And it is said with such anger and hate and spite and rage and genuine disgust that sometimes I’m truly scared. I sleep with one eye open.
Of course, I don’t think she truly knows what she says when she let’s the expletives fly. I don’t think she has any idea that’s she actually saying, ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma. However, she knows exactly what she means, and what she means is the most foul curse word imaginable.
And just like my darling little girl, Dr. Laura Schlessinger has no idea what she is saying.
According to a recent HuffPost report, the advice guru apparently does not know the difference between the word “nigga” and the word “nigger.” The HuffPo reports Dr. Laura saying:
Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO and listen to a black comic, and all you hear is n****, n*****, n*****. I don’t get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it’s a horrible thing. But when black people say it, it’s affectionate. It’s very confusing.
A caller later questioned Dr. Laura about her use of the word:
CALLER: Is it OK to say that word? Is it ever OK to say that word?
DR. LAURA: It depends how it’s said. Black guys talking to each other seem to think it’s ok.
CALLER: But you’re not black, they’re not black, my husband is white.
DR. LAURA: Oh, I see, so a word is restricted to race. Got it. Can’t do much about that.
CALLER: I can’t believe someone like you is on the radio spewing out the n***** word, and I hope everybody heard it.
DR. LAURA: I didn’t spew out the n***** word!
CALLER: You said “n*****, n*****, n*****” and I hope everybody heard it.
DR. LAURA: Yes they did, and I’ll say it again: n*****, n*****, n***** is what you hear on HBO.
DR. LAURA: Why don’t you let me finish a sentence? Don’t take things out of context. Don’t NAACP me, leave them in context.
Like many right wing radio hosts and pundits, Dr. Laura doesn’t understand that there is a difference between “nigga” and “nigger.” She simply doesn’t get that when Chris Rock or Dr. Dre or Jay Z or any number of black comedians or rappers, uses the corruption of the racial slur, “nigga,” they are in fact attempting to rob the racial slur, “nigger,” of its power. (See the origin of “yankee doodle“.) It is an act of verbal emasculation and personal power. For Dr. Laura and others, when a black comedian or a rapper uses the word “nigga,” blacks are proving that they are hypocrites and, likely for the advice guru and right winger, the true racists.
Now, is it appropriate for a white person to use the word “nigga”? Simply put, no. They can’t. Why? The racial slur “nigger” doesn’t apply to them. The term has never been and never can be directed toward them with any true power or meaning. If a white person uses “nigga,” it’s a mockery of black suffering and oppression.
That said, I would argue that if a white British comedian used the term, as Nick Frost did in Hot Fuzz, then it’s not a mockery of American blacks but a mockery of hip-hop obsessed gangsta wannabe-ism. The racial slur, “nigger,” is word used by American oppressors and a symbol of American oppression. Others may disagree.
For more on the origins of the N-word, feel free to check out Harvard prof Randall Kennedy’s Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word.
As for you, Dr. Laura. I’ve only got one thing to say to you: ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma.