White folks: The n-word is off-limits!

chris graham espnThe Virginia Tech women’s lacrosse team. Donte DiVincenzo. White athletes getting caught quoting rap lyrics that include the n-word.

Cue firestorm.

Then cue the endless debate over why it’s wrong for white suburban kids who think they’re woke to quote that word, versus why it’s any less wrong for African-Americans to use the term.

Here’s where I’ll come down: oh, yeah, wrong, definitely.

To the why: one of the dumb articles I read on this was by a writer who used the term “wypipo” as part of his dumb argument.

For those, like me, until I saw that particular term, who have no idea what someone would mean by “wypipo,” it’s not-at-all-endearing slang for “white people.”

You have to be a certain degree of woke to even come across its usage to know that it’s derogatory, so it isn’t anything close to the n-word in terms of having any power.

Yet.

Nonetheless, it’s meant to be demeaning.

Me, if I use it to refer to you, unwoke white people, about how unwoke you are, well, I’m a white dude, so I’m cool.

I can make fun of cracka-ass crackas who think the Confederate flag somehow represents their heritage, when that piece of cloth had any significance for exactly four years for the 400+ that people have lived in what is now the American South, and we all know what those four years were about.

You decide that the Confederate flag is your heritage, you’re saying a lot about how you’re a cracka-ass cracka, and I can use that term, or I can call you Wonder Bread, or hillbilly, or wypipo, all I want.

But when it’s a black guy going off about how all white people do this, think this way, look at the world the same way, whatever, now, the claws come out.

Sort of like how when you were a kid, and somebody said something about your dad. Me, my dad, he had his issues. Actually, my dad, lots of them: he was never around, left my mom when I was 13, didn’t pay his child support.

But he was my dad. Wasn’t perfect, but you try to talk crap, and I’ll dot your eye for you, and cross your tees.

See where I’m going with this?

That n-word, it’s off-limits, white folks, no matter how woke you think you are.

There’s hundreds of years of racial subjugation in that word.

When you hear a hip-hop lyricist using the word, he’s trying to take ownership of it from the white folks who use it to dehumanize.

I’ve been a fan of hip-hop music since the late ‘80s, for me, high school. My style guide to sing-alongs when it comes to this term is, substitute the word “brotha,” and I feel like I’m ok.

Sing along using the n-word at your own peril, basically, and most certainly, do so on video meant for Snapchat, like the Tech lacrosse team, or quote the lyrics in a tweet, like DiVincenzo, and, well, you get what’s coming.

Basically, you’re not allowed to say that, for a million reasons, and if you’re not aware of why, you need to be.

Column by Chris Graham


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