Yes Virginia, It’s called Perception

Yes Virginia, Its called Perception

I would not consider myself a conservative man. Not with my tattoos, piercings, pro-choice opinion, support of any human having the right to marry, and unwavering stance that everyone has the right to freedom of speech. You would think that I have the makings of being a super liberal.

You would be wrong.

My tattoos are covered when in business attire. I can remove my piercings (well most of them) when appropriate. I don’t believe that abortion should be paid for by tax dollars in any circumstance. I could care less about the term marriage; let the people that use the term as a bigoted, religious, or “sanctity of the institution” based way of discrimination keep the label. If having a civil union carries all the rights and privileges that a marriage does, then so be it, let those who cling to an unwavering (if not antiquated) definition of the term have it.

Left, right, center be damned. Label me what you want but I am more about tolerance, compromise and freedom of expression…with caution.

Because as much as I would like to believe that as a citizen of the United States I can do whatever and be whoever I want to be, I’m here to tell you that yes Virginia, you sweet little girl, perception and judgment of who you are, what you stand for, and the life you choose to lead is a human trait anchored in genetics.

But perception is the key word here that brings me to a strong point of contention. Freedom of speech is no different than having a gun; the weapon alone is not dangerous, but in the wrong hands it can be deadly, and as such should be handled with caution.

So it enraged me one day as I was leaving Main Hall on the Dobbs Ferry campus, I heard a couple 20 something black males walking in the parking lot laughing out loud, saying “nigga” this and “nigga” that.

Now, there is an understanding that “nigga,” not to be confused with “nigger,” is a term that does not carry the same offensive connotation as that historically offensive word.

One is a derivative of the other and to me, are hand in hand just as degrading and despicable to use. It is a slap in the face to all that have fought and died for the liberation and civil rights of blacks in this country, that it has become almost socially acceptable for anyone to use the word nigga so nonchalantly.

But the most reprehensible thing of all is that we as black people have some among us that freely use the word as a term of endearment. How did this happen? Where along our climb from being regarded as property did we lose our self respect and allow this?

As a black man, I don’t want a white person or any other race for that matter to refer to or address me as nigga anything. This includes my own culture.

No Virginia, it is not ok to call me nigga.

Is it the rise of the hip hop community and prominence of certain types of rap music that led to this assault on our culture? Is it our way of stripping the power of the word nigger by taking a mutation of the word and embracing it?

Regardless of how this has happened, as a race, no as an American culture, we need to put a stop to this behavior and really evaluate what we say about ourselves and the perception the use of nigga has.

Do not get me wrong, I am not calling for the word to be stricken from the English language. I don’t believe that anyone should be silenced from speaking that which dwells within, but I do say that along with the right to speak your mind there is great responsibility. Choose your words wisely because what you say defines who you are and the perception people have of you.

Remember, Virginia is always listening.