Lets Talk About My Gay Black Jewish Friend
It may not surprise you to know that I am a big fan of words. And more so , a big fan of ideas and conversation. So it follows that I am not a big fan of censorship. Any censorship, but the kind I'm referring to here is not what you are thinking. It's not the seven dirty words you can't say on TV or radio. Its the kind that we all are part of everyday. Self censorship.
Self censorship is what stops you from just saying what's on your mind all the time. Now don't misunderstand me, it is definitely necessary. You can't just blurt out to your boss what you really think about him. You can't just talk about your digestive tract disorders at a dinner party. And you definitely can not tell your wife she looks fat in those jeans.
What I'm talking about here is concepts and ideas about society and where we all fit in. Homosexuality, race,
religion, and yes even sex. These are just some examples of things I wish we could talk more openly about these days. But how can you? Everyone is so caught up on calling people out if they say something that can be considered rude, lewd or discriminatory. Your scared to talk about things and get them in the open because you don't know if your supposed to say, "gay" or "homosexual" or "black" or "African American". So no one talks. No one tries to understand other thoughts and cultures and beliefs. And it is only through the sharing of ideas that we can truly understand each other's plights as humans. So we censor.
We censor so no one has to be uncomfortable. At least not in the open. We would rather have people avoid each other out of fear of being rude, than get to know each other. I say get it out there. Instead of whispering a prejudice joke to your cronies in private about the "gay" guys promiscuity. or the "black" guys work ethic, or the Priest the Rabbi and the Muslim why not just say it to them. Clearly because they would be offended. But what if they weren't. What if they are really more offended that this goes on in back rooms and in whispers, which actually gives the stereo type more power. What if we could all laugh at ourselves a bit , and each other. What if those people would actually love a chance to talk about the stereo type and maybe help you to understand how its a misconception. What if we weren't afraid to talk.
Remember when Imus said those things about the girls basketball team. I believe it was " Nappy headed Ho's" he got fired. What if we as a culture used moments like that to talk about it. I think instead it could have been a springboard for understanding the differences between blacks and whites , and their hair. No I don't mean that to be funny.
I think what a lot of people don't understand is how it feels to be "nappy headed". As a white man I say, who cares, so its different. We all have different hair, some people are blond, some brunettes some straight others curly. Well sure, if you were living in Africa and everyone, or most everyone had that kind of hair then MAYBE the word "nappy" would just be an adjective and nothing anyone would be concerned with. Because that is the norm in that society, that is what is considered beautiful. But in this society where young black children , just one generation into real civil rights are raised with a desire to be equal its not just a blond or a brunette thing for them. They have grown up watching TV, looking at magazines, and meeting important and powerful people and the one thing that stands out to them, at a very young age, is the hair. This is especially true for young black women who like any other women in the world want very much to be desired.
Think about it, we think its tragic and sad that young girls can grow up to be anorexic and bulimic we watch shows on it,we have books about it, we have psychologist dedicated to helping them with their body image. We understand how these poor girls have had to deal with all of their "beautiful" role models being thin, in many ways impossibly thin. We make angry calls to the magazines to hire more realistic models, we have ad campaigns dedicated to helping young girls understand that they don't have to be like these super thin models and actresses to be beautiful. And rightfully so. But nobody has taken much time to really understand how a young black girl, desperately trying to "fit in", spending hours and lots of money to try to make her hair straight or buying wigs, can be effected by some old white guy on the radio referring to them as "nappy headed". It's not a lot different than referring to a group of anorexic girls as "fat bellied pigs". It simply sets any progress they have made at overcoming the problem back. Way back. And reinforces to them the idea that they are wrong, or flawed.
SO maybe if THAT is what was conveyed to Imus and in turn to everyone who was listening to his original statement, his listeners. Maybe we would all have been a little better off, and a little less likely to use the word in that way in the future. Maybe we would be more apt to tell a young black girl how pretty her hair is. Then we could overcome the original problem and in turn , make the term "nappy headed" meaningless.
I'm willing to bet not he or many of his listeners have ever taken the time to consider it the way we just did. And sadly they still haven't because someone just screamed "racist", and got him fired. Makes no sense to me.
If we are so afraid of "words" , no one will ever talk. No one will ever understand, or even try to understand that through our differences, we are all the same. It's like trying to have an important conversation during a rousing game of "Taboo". EHHHHHHH!, EEEHHHHHH!, EEEHHHH! Put the buzzers away people and let's talk.