My daughter is reading Richard Wright’s Black Boy in her high school English class. Now mind you this is a college level class, but at the same time Black Boy isn’t for your average reader. Written in the 1940’s by a black man about racism in the 20’s in the Jim Crow south the book paints a bleak picture of race relations. The book also happens to be chock full of the n-word, and when I say chock full I mean it occurs on just about every page.
I had to assume that the children were discussing the use of this word along with the racist attitudes of the people in the book in class, but apparently that isn’t happening. Instead they are discussing the literary merit of the book as a whole, rather than dissecting it and looking at the environment that brought the book about. That would normally be fine with me, but I for one think that schools ought to challenge the realm of political correctness and give the children a forum in which to ask questions they normally would be too scared to ask. But again, schools are apparently no longer there to push the envelope of learning, merely to indoctrinate and assimilate children into the path of liberal enlightenment.
What other explanation could there be for reading a book, written by a confirmed and avowed communist, about rejecting religion in the deep south. The main point of the book is the embrace of atheism and hedonism as a child and indoctrination into the communist party in Chicago in the 30’s as a young adult while blaming the whole thing on the inherent racism in America and the inequality of capitalism…and these children are going to be asked how it makes them feel? Sounds fair but I’ve taught my daughter better than to blindly swallow the garbage her teachers hand out so we had a talk about it at home, especially how it related to today.
Her question was not, why was there racism in the Jim Crow south, because we’ve had that conversation. Instead she wanted to know why the N-word, the usage long banned by white people, was still alive and thriving at her school. Why she could hear a truncated pronunciation that ended in an A rather than an ER and that was somehow all right, because no one will discuss the open and frank racism of the minorities at her high school. I asked her what she meant.
She told me that whites are often referred to as white girl, white boy by the vocal minority and that there are a host of unpleasant names for Asians and Hispanics at her school and nothing is done about it. But refer to someone as black in the wrong context and someone could be up in your face. Mind you, referring to someone as black, not using the N-word. She said most of the vocal minority bristle at the work black, African-American, boy (although I can see bristling at boy, the context is obviously that of boy/girl designation as opposed to talking down to someone) and never seem to be happy with how anyone refers to them, but they call each other N—a and everyone else worse.
In short we had to have the stupid person conversation, in which we discuss why people look past their own racism to find it in everyone else. We also discussed the culture of political correctness that exists in America and the liberal notion that “white privilege” has kept and is actively keeping down the black man. She finally understood what was going on and unfortunately for her mother and I we could no longer keep her in a race free, world is fair and wonderful, kind of place that parents instinctively put their children in to protect them from the harsh realities of life. Today she understands better, but is probably a little bit more wary and sad about it.
As for the A vs ER argument I brought up that Tupac once defined the argument as someone who is called an n—ER is a black man with a chain of slavery around his neck and someone who is called an n—A is black man with a gold chain around his neck. Then I told her none of that was true, that a hurtful word, while only able to hurt you if you allow it to, is still fueled by hate, except in this case it is self hate fueling the word. A n—ER may be someone with the chain of slavery around his neck, but an n—a is someone who willingly puts that chain on his own neck for his friends to use.
It’ll be interesting to see what observations she brings home in the following weeks now that we have had a frank conversation on race, I guess Black Boy in all its America hating glory was good for something after all.