I speak my mind.
Sometimes to the point of my own detriment because I have a very cavalier, Fuck You type of demeanor.
It doesn’t readily come off though because when people see me they think ‘Oh he looks like a nice person. I can just say whatever I want to him’
Fuck outta here with that bullshit!
But sometimes in Life I give people I care about a pass.
Here are two examples.
A few years ago I was out drinking with a couple of friends and the subject turned to sports. I can’t remember exactly who we were talking about but I do remember someone saying ‘Yo man. He needs to stop acting like a faggot.’
We all laughed.
A few years after that, while I was in Berlin, I was once again out drinking with a few friends. One of them, a German who we will call Steve, was very cool and he and I had been conversing very openly and honestly from the time we first met. On that particular night we discussed the Berlin Olympics of 1936. Eventually the topic turned to race because it was during those Olympics when Jesse Owens gave Hitler the ultimate Fuck Off! by winning four gold medals in Track & Field.
Steve joked ‘You know Hitler was in the stands like ‘I can’t believe this. Not the nigger!’
We all laughed.
Now, do these two instances haunt me and make me feel like I should have spoken up against injustice?
Honestly, when I think about it at times I wonder how it would have went if I said something. Would it have turned into a teachable moment or would it have turned into an ‘Aw man, you know I didn’t mean it like that’ type of deflection?
Unfortunately, I’ll never know.
Over the years I’ve learned that you have to carefully select your battles. In the instance with my friend calling the ball player a faggot I know he wasn’t alluding to him being gay. He was alluding to him acting like a bitch. And I know that when Steve used the word nigger he was jokingly using it in the context that Hitler would have. Plus, as a European, the word nigger doesn’t hit him as hard as it would an American because we live with the history and pain of that word everyday.
But these words still sting, even when there is no malice behind them coming from the mouths of those I care about. Because I know that at times in my life someone will refer to me as either a nigger or a faggot. And hopefully when they do it they will at least have the decency to say it behind my back.
That’s just good manners.
Do I like it? Fuck no. I think it’s stupid and lazy because I may be black, but I’m not a nigger. And I may be gay, but I’m nobody’s faggot.
The problem with these labels is that they all originate from stereotypes and you don’t only have to look towards these two words to find issues with generalizations.
An ambitious woman is a bitch. All white people are evil racists. All Muslims support terrorism. All the Jews are rich and hate black people. The Italians are mobsters and the Irish are drunks. All the blacks are on welfare and will rob you. All Asians own stores in the ‘hood. All gay men are more feminine than women.
It’s all Fucked Up because none of it is true. People are diverse in their upbringings and experiences and shouldn’t be fit into a box, but that’s what society does. We lump everyone into categories to appease our own innate desire at division and it is a very dismissive process.
Much like when people can not or care not to make the distinction between Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
It’s also like when people refer to Africa as a country when it is in actuality an entire continent full of countries, cultures and differences.
We allow labels and perception to define people when what should really define a person is who they are.
And yes. Truth told, I have used both faggot and nigger (especially nigger in all of its various forms). It doesn’t make me a bad person, much like how it doesn’t make the people I’ve mentioned in the examples bad people. It does, however, make me flawed to think that it’s cool to use those words to single people out.
But then again I never claimed to be perfect. And though I know faggot could get used at any time depending on the venue you can best believe that no one in a mixed group setting is going to say ‘He needs to stop acting like a nigger’ because that shit could possibly lead to an evening in the hospital or jail.
Where I find issue with any derogatory term is when it is used as a weapon of hatred. When I’m standing on the balcony of a bar in New Orleans and I see a crowd gathering on the street shouting that all the gays are going to Hell I’m coming outside with drink in hand to confront you because that’s not cool. When I hear about the Queen of Butter wanting to dress her wait staff up like Plantation slaves, I’ma say something about that shit too because that’s not cool either.
If there is an avenue for change in any aspect of our lives it begins from within. I don’t expect anyone to stop using faggot, nigger, bitch, wop, spic, kike, dyke, mic, cracka or whatever your favorite term is because I’m not the one to change anything for you.
But what I can do for myself is remember those two times I said nothing and how it made me feel. I can remember those two times I said nothing and assess how I would approach that situation in the event that it comes up again. All I can do is learn from the past and make sure that I do better than I did before.
But in any case, all of it is pretty Fucked Up.