“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22
Before we explore the contextual use of racial slurs, I want to say this feels like the NFL when a bad call is overturned by an instant replay ruling.
Radaronline.com and others are now on the defensive in regards to the Gibson family, and family court is now doing what it is designed to do. Even Robyn Gibson stepped forward to formally declare in writing to a judge that her ex-husband was a wonderful husband and father for almost 30 years. Meanwhile, the ex-girlfriend couldn’t quite remember the amount of money she demanded in her extortion attempt. She is trying to sell her battery case to Judge Scott Gordon, a domestic violence specialist, on the merit of a photo of her teeth.
To those of you quick to pounce on Mel, up yours.
This editorial contains usage of the word “nigger”. This publication may have edited it for its own policy reasons.
As some blacks across America join together in mutual attack against actor Mel Gibson, they need to remember something.
When The Passion of The Christ was released, and many critics attacked it for his display of blood, another film came out, split into two parts, featuring more blood, and a director who has proudly used the word “nigger” in front of and behind the camera: Quentin Tarantino. His film Pulp Fiction even used an excerpt from Ezekiel 25:17 to build its foundation on. Apparently Kill Bill was art, and The Passion of The Christ was porn, so said reviewer headlines in 2004.
And, apparently Tarantino’s blatant use of the word “nigger” is okay, and his recent released video footage of being egged into a fist fight with a camera man was amusing, whereas Gibson’s personal proclamation of Christ makes him so accountable that (gasp!) Entertainment Weekly critic Jeffrey Lyons stated he did not want to interview him anymore.
Note the Scripture quote above. I don’t know what religious faith Mr. Lyons claims, but I reference it anyway, toward Dr. James Dobson and other Christian evangelists who were so quick to write Mel Gibson off, taking the content of audio released through Radaronline.com at face value. We all know when Dr. Dobson farts, it is canned and sold at the Focus On The Family gift shop as air freshener.
As for the usage of the word that proved to the deal-breaker for William Morris and the producers of Mel Gibson’s current film projects in development and post-production…
The most frequent users of the word “nigger” are blacks, addressing each other.
Whether through music, or in person, this form of inner-ethnic slang is as common as referring to women as “*itches” and “ho’s”. On one of my wife’s favorite reality shows, You’re Cut Off, several spoiled young women refer to each other with these words so often there’s hardly a detectable sound track of dialogue with all the sound-drops.
To repent from this problem, if blacks who do frequently refer to each other as such would replace the word “nigger” with “sir” in their own daily communication, it would become contagious. Want the world to respect you? Respect yourself.
There are several famous statesmen whom no one would consider referring to as “nigger”. Dr. William Cosby, Quincy Jones, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and Sidney Portier have risen above the racial standards of their youth and made it so performers like Flavor-Flav, 50-Cent, and Ludicrous have no excuse to become offended by anyone, of any ethnicity, calling them, intentionally or by accident, what they call themselves.
Most kids imitate what they hear older kids or adults saying, and as the younger ones hear these terms used among older teens, the word “nigger” finds itself being used in the the same context as “dude”, “bud”, or “homey”. “Homey,” in fact, was a term coined by Damon Wayans for the TV show, In Living Color.
In 1992, White Men Can’t Jump hit theaters, and we met Sidney Dean, played by the charismatic Wesley Snipes, who addressed Billy Hoyl’s coolness on the court, “You don’t fall for all that *igger” *hit on the court.”
If any man wants respect, give it and become educated about how to lead.
Morgan Freeman states this in the 20th Anniversary DVD edition of the film Glory – you know, the legendary Civil War saga about the first black regiment, “The schools celebrate Black History Month. I don’t believe in black history. There is just history, and I am a part of it.”
So when did young black men stop referring to each other as “brothas”, a term adopted during the 1960’s?
It really started with NWA. NWA stands for “Niggers With Attitude”. Raised by very accepting and protective parents, this band’s articulation of the word “nigger” was the first time I had heard it, as a teenager. I was raised to believe racism was wrong and evil, in any context. In Tucson, Arizona, the racism exhibited by the Conquistadors versus everyone else had still not subsided. We were taught that someday God’s love would subdue that.
The Los Angeles Police Department was corrupt in the 1980’s. Downtown L.A. was being overwhelmed by drug addiction and films like Colors and Lost Angels, made this life look glamorous. TV talk shows gave the microphone to every uneducated person with an opinion (audience members later parodied my the Wayan Brothers on In Living Color), and Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing capitalized on the same issues that made Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner a classic.
In 1989, Eddie Murphy was crowned the most powerful comedic producer in the world. Denzel Washington won his first Academy Award.
In the next couple years, rappers like Ice Cube and Ice T struck a cord with disadvantaged youth during one of the many economic recessions, and Boyz In The Hood, despite being a piece of cinematic art, poured kerosine onto an already smoldering fire.
Then, one night in March, Rodney King went out for a night on the town.
The L.A. riots only needed one drunken drug addict, high on drugs, and violent toward police, to be captured on video for a few seconds, then glorified in the first few minutes of Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, to put a face on black racism in America in 1992. The riots would likely have happened no matter what. Rodney King and four acquitted, blacklisted police officers simply gave the city, if not the country a reason. Police departments and presidential candidates took this time as a cue to reform and by 1996, the new Enemy of the State was Timothy McViegh.
Now, as 2011 approaches, there is still no debate. Racism still exists. It is a reality this generation will not see expire. We simply have to choose whether or not we’re going to engage in it. Do we address it with love or hate? And, our human love or hate or God’s love and our human hate?
This is a choice that each parent makes, whether or not they teach their kids to engage in. I grew up being taught that we should treat all people, including the abusive Spaniards and undocumented Mexicans in my southern Arizona community, with respect, even when it was withheld from us.
As of August, 2010, racism as blatant as seen in Crazy Alabama, is less evident and not as much a factor in the daily lives of those pursuing higher education, small business loans and mortgages. The fact is civil rights leaders have been victorious such that scenarios of racism illustrated in shows like TV’s Quantum Leap are no longer the norm.
In other words, bigotry is no longer fashionable. Thank you, Chicago TV news managers for trying to phase out a young Oprah Winfrey by giving her her own talk show to avoid a wrongful termination lawsuit. That changed everything.
As a Caucasian small business owners, I can state that my dad was denied a promotion on the Tucson Police Department in 1987 because of Affirmative Action, and I was denied a Small Business loan because I am neither black nor female. He took it as God’s way of having him spend more time with his family until his death 1991, and I took it as God’s way of saying His blessing in my life is greater than a bank’s financial approval. I spent time otherwise engaged in business, finishing school and being more attentive to my small children.
During my own high school days, a couple black classmates, in a school with under 15%-black enrollment, made it clear that they were superior to me because they were black. One often quoted his mothers words to him, “That’s just the way white people are, (name omitted). Get used to it.” He would walk around the school’s campus without a shirt, imitating Mario Van Peebles from Heartbreak Ridge.
Both went to prison for drug trafficking in the next ten years. Both had interracial children out of wedlock. To be blunt, both treated white *itches like hoes and tried to make some money selling crack. Both played sports, and instead of completing their college degrees and pursuing professional athletics through the endless venues degree-holding people can work as (marketing, agents, administrators, broadcasters, writers, producers, editors), they complained that scouts never gave them any respect.
Excuses. Today they live in a facility surrounded by hundreds of other men who share their excuses.
Dr. William Cosby stated on Oprah, “Is this why we let ourselves get kicked and hit and did sit-ins?” referring to the modern day rappers who used their profanity-filled songs to test the scope and limits of free speech laws.
Yes, Dr. Cosby, unfortunately, it is. They use the opportunity afforded them by your generation to produce internet porn and engage in credit card fraud and other unlawful or unethical businesses. I am sorry.
When blacks in this country show each other enough self-respect to stop using the word “nigger” in any context outside historical reference, the rest of the ethnics group will too.
As the film Coach Carter demonstrates, “Sir”, coupled with a suit and a tie, go a long way. Prisons are filled with self-proclaimed cool guys who boast of “bling” and the once-popular Fubu shirts, and perpetual underemployment since high school. Though actor Don Cheadle plays a tough guy in many of his films, in real life, he is a college educated graduate of CalArts.
I found it ironic that the very audience that director John Singleton intended “Baby Boy” to minister to completely misunderstood the message to get right with the Lord, grow up and get a job. Maybe a soundtrack of sermons and business college lectures would have been more functional than the R&B tracks that screamed so loudly from the cars blaring Baby Boy’s soundtrack, driven by these Millennial spoiled brats.
Of the civil rights work accomplished by Dr. Cosby, Dr. King and others, the result is a black man in the White House who wouldn’t wear the term “nigger” even as ignorant voices thrust it on him. It doesn’t fit him. President Obama is the classic illustration and ideal model of self-respect. He’s as educated as can be, and won the hearts of as many Caucasian-Americans as black Americans in 2008.
As I listened to Mel Gibson’s words, I didn’t hear a racist. I heard a man using slang out of frustration, albeit angrily. Some of the same thoughts run through my mind when I see people who look like undocumented workers packing 200 items onto the small counter of the quick-check lane of a grocery store, claiming to be unable to read the signs that state “15 items or less.”
I am a Caucasian male with an Italian surname. Black men seem to be allowed to use derogatory terms to describe other ethnic groups, and it’s considered funny. Just glance at the message boards on sports web sites like ESPN and Yahoo! Sports without a filter and see a buffet of profane slang.
Being black seems to give one a license to use words that would get Bruce Willis killed in the opening scene of Die Hard With A Vengeance.
As Oscar-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg defended Mel Gibson, and rightfully so, describing how he was when around her kids, I praised God for the witness. A few days later, Robyn Gibson gave the same testimony of Mel’s character, with 28 years of marriage to stand on.
In a year’s time, I believe the next Diane Sawyer interview of Mel Gibson will reveal a man who feels painfully helpless in his circumstances.
And, yes, in such pain, we use words we would otherwise not.
Now, the next time black men are gathered together at a sports bar for a ritual of watching football, and making booty calls at the wait staff, know that you are a witness on behalf of your entire ethnic group. If the term “nigger” is used, one has no right to accuse anyone else of racism if they too are using it. If the term “ho” or “*itch” is used, or any other term delivered in the shameful Friday/Barbershop/Are We There Yet/Am I Black Yet? films produced by Ice Cube and Caucasian producer Matt Alvarez, know that one’s right to be offended at any term or slang aimed at blacks is void.
As for the population in Malibu, California who do have the right to take Mel Gibson’s comments personally, many of the underemployed black actors and producers who reside there fit the description heard in the angry recordings. Many of them parade around town as Entourage wannabes, hoping to get discovered while working as extras for Entertainment Partners.
No one, including Mel Gibson, would agree with the words heard in those infamous recordings, from a calm source, are appropriate.
Please continue joining me in ongoing prayer for him and his family.
P.S. Fans, don’t harass either party. Let God and the authorities sort it out. Kids are involved. Just leave ’em alone.
And Mr. Lyons, nobody cares if you like a movie or not.
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Cory Parella is a freelance journalist and film producer in Denver, Colorado and is a non denominational Christian pastor.