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The word Trayvon, is now a Racial Slur Monday, May 7, 2012 04:05 PM
Crossposted from (DailyKos)

For most of my adult life there has been a raging internal debate within the Black community over the so-called "N-word".

When I was a member of the Black Rock Coalition in the early 90's this debate became considerably louder when the band Gun's N Roses released the song "One In a Million" which includes the line:

Police and Niggers, yeah - that's right, get out of my way. Don't need to buy none of your gold chains today. And I don't need no bracelet clasped in front of my back. I'm just a small town white boy, why don't you cut me some slack?

Defying and changing people perceptions about what Black people should, would or could do - at least within the context of music - was exactly what the BRC is about. So naturally members of the band Living Colour were asked this GN'R song on air at KROQ Radio in Los Angeles on the same day that they were going to be playing a show opening for the Rolling Stones and GN'R had been added to the bill.

Some have argued that words have meaning primarily in context. That some words can be used ironically to indicate the opposite of their original meaning. This for example is how N.W.A. (Nigga's With Attitude) featuring Ice Cube and Dr. Dre had been using the word. The idea being if you take away a words POWER OVER YOU you take away it's impact. In fact, Axl Rose had even mentioned the fact that black people call themselves and each other "Nigga" all the time. Also, at this time, Saul (Slash) Hudson was a member of the group and he's of Black/White parentage just like Lenny Kravitz and the President - not that he, or anyone else, has ever been that successful at telling Axl what he can and can't do.

Living Colour's position on air was - and still is - that it simply wasn't cool no matter who said it. Further discussion of this subject at a BRC Meeting featuring LC Guitarist Vernon Reid, he elaborated that his position, and the position of many is that the word had been the word is irrevocably tainted by it's historical use. Even you don't mean it in the way that it was meant by others in another time, black people are still tainting themselves with self-hated and self-loathing when they hurl it at each other indiscriminately.

I think both positions have a fair point.

Some may mean "You're my brother - you're my Family" when they say "You're My Nigga". Others really don't mean to imply "brotherhood" when they say "Fuck That Nigga!"

Ironic Reconstruction can be a double edged sword. Are you freeing yourself from the power of racists and bigots or giving in to their negative view of you?

I've always felt it doesn't matter what you say - it matters what you mean. Intent, like Truth, is the ultimate defense - or proof of offense.

That seems even more evident today as it turns out that some Cornell Students have begun using word "Trayvon" as a Racial Slur.

Sophomore student Beverly Fonkwo was walking home with her friend when a group from the fraternity group’s house began to throw items at them. When Fonkwo and her friend asked them to stop twice, Fonkwo said the group continued to toss the objects and responded by saying, “Come up here, Trayvon” and other racial comments.

“I feel like it was targeted and racially motivated, we felt very threatened,” Fonkwo told the Daily Sun. “Meanwhile, the assailants were just laughing at the whole situation until we called the police and then they ran inside.”

Context is everything.

If we were to behave the way bigots do, we would assume that every other student at Cornell must think as this person does, right? Because that's exactly the kind of thinking behind the argument that in this Post Trayvon America Ethnic Kids Shouldn't Wear Hoodies For their own Protection!

They just might get "Trayvoned" y'know?

This is the argument made by a School Superintendent who fired a teacher who was trying to organize a Traymon Martin Fundraiser by letting her students wear hoodies for an hour.

This is the thinking of Miami-Dade Fire Captain who said this.

I am my coworkers could rewrite the book on whether our urban youths are the victims of racits profiling or products of their failed, shitbag, ignorant, pathetic, welfare dependent excuses for parents.

This guy didn't have to say the N-word. We know what he means. I've seen what he means first hand. I've even found myself saying- about my own black people - "Damn, Some of them just have got too much Nigra-tude".

By which I mean, they've given in to self-destruction and self-defeat.

Then again, you could say that about a lot of people - not just black people.

When someone is hugging you, slapping on the back or giving you some DAP (as they used to call it before Fox dubbed it the "Terrorist Fist Jab") - what you say, has to make sense with what you're doing at the time.

These days what we might reflexively call "Racism" isn't anything of the kind per se. Having a generalized difference of opinion about a broad swath of people isn't the same thing as being a bigot. It's a generalized opinion. Everyone has opinions, everyone - I mean EVERYONE - makes generalizations. We get into problems when we start thinking the generalization is more important than the specifics of a person or situation, when we start thinking we know facts about someone generally - THAT. WE. DON'T. KNOW. SPECIFICALLY!

Real Racism, is Racial Terrorism. It's Fear. It's Paranoia. It's Intimidation. It's manipulation. And sometimes - it leads to violence and murder.

It's more than just a single offhand comment. It's a pattern of behavior. It's a self-sustaining system of false belief, thinking that you know something for "a fact" about someone that you don't, and then excusing your ignorance on the basis of fear.

"Gee, if I was wrong about that scary black kid - I'd be dead now. Better safe than sorry" - Yeah, right, but it always seems like the parents and friends of the dead black kids are usually the sorry ones. Also - presuming that someone has crossed the street to avoid you - (an event that was the basis for the Living Colour song "Funny Vibe") - is assuming something you don't know too. Are they avoiding you out of fear, or is it something else? Your presumption is about them is just as bad as their presumption about you, isn't it?

When I was younger I sometimes used to cross the street and ignore/avoid some white people just so they wouldn't have the excuse to cross the street to avoid me first. I wasn't assuming they were racist, I was taking away their FEAR CARD - before they had a chance to play it. I was non-verbally saying "I don't care about you, I'm not Stalking You, I got my own shit to do. You're irrelevant to me." How frelled up is that?

If you're screaming at someone, threatening them, demeaning them, and in the middle of it you call them "Buddy", "Pal", "Homeboy", "Bro" (GOD, I hate that one!) or now - "Trayvon".

That someone better watch their ass, now matter how you call them "nice" things. I'm just saying.

Vyan

Incidentally I just helped put up a Store Page for a site selling Trayvon Merch, this person Dawn Haynes has indeed made connections with the Martin Family to ensure they receive the money and has done some networking and events with Rev. Sharpton. Pass it along.

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