a list, in light of the Michael Richards/Kramer and UCLA student taser thing:
1. when talking about the use of the N-word, let's have a basic understanding that no one should be using it.
2. yes, some black folk use it. not all of us like that but that doesn't mean everyone gets to.
3. (similarly, yes, some gay folk also use the f-word when they speak with/about one another, but that's not going to make it ok for me to say it. it's bad manners.)
4. (just the way it's bad manners to whine about why certain people get to do certain things that seem naughty and you can't. you just can't. deal with it. if you're burning with a desire to say a naughty word and you're mad that people will think you're a racist if you do, then you have a problem.)
4.5. (and if you ask if that's fair - what are you, five?)
5. and besides, that's not the point. whether or not you are a racist is not the point. who cares if you're a racist?
6. the point is, Richards used it in a really really problematic way. you get a few racial demerits for saying the N-word but you flunk the whole test when you start referencing lynching.
7. and that's what's ugly. when we use the word racism *properly* we are to understand that there's a whole history and cultural tradition supporting it and giving it life; we understand that history isn't in the past - it's now, it's flowing forward, everything we do make us part of it and we inform it just as we're informed by it. history and cultural/social practice make racism real and Richards basically sickened himself and his audience when he vomited that history all over the stage that night.
8. this history claim - does this mean that we don't recognize other histories? (i.e., the history of the english oppression of the irish, the genocide in darfur, the spanish decimation of the native american and the indigenous. those histories.) no way. but that's not the context of this particular conversation or incident.
9. and don't try to divert the conversation into another direction. it would be great if the folks who always use this gambit when they get super defensive about race/racism actually wanted to talk about other imperialisms and colonialisms and how they inform our contemporary culture and make our current race issues so frakking complicated. they say, 'what about this oppression or that oppression? are you saying that only black people have suffered, only black people have suffered oppression??' no, brother; i'm not saying that. let's DO talk about other people's suffering and oppression! i'd love to, but you're not going to like it. history ain't pretty. you really don't want to go there.
10. but if you do, maybe we can talk about this guy from UCLA (my alma mater!) who totally got tasered for refusing to show school ID and told some campus police to frak off. he probably has some ideas about why it happened.