Racism, Or Not?

Guest Post by SoLow


I grew up in the Philly metro area, did my time as one of Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children, and eventually made my way to North Portland, Oregon (where I live now). Needless to say, I’ve been around people of all races for my entire life, and I’ve appreciated certain people from all races at one time or another as well. I’ve also met people from all races that were stupid/ignorant or otherwise unpleasant to be around. I’ve never personally cared about an individual’s ethnic background – either I like you or I don’t. But this I don’t understand (and I’m not exaggerating – this entire story literally took place within the past 24 hours).

While most of the neighborhood that I live in has become somewhat trendy/yuppy-fied over the past decade, there are still certain places that are a bit rundown. I stopped for smokes on my way home from work last night and it just so happens that the place where I buy my oxygen therapy at is in one of the more rundown areas. There’s almost always a homeless person or some type of hustler standing around in the parking lot. As I was coming outside from the store I noticed 2 black men engaging in conversation. The 1st part of the conversation that I heard was, “Whaddup nigger?” I minded my business, as usual. But it certainly wasn’t the 1st time I’ve heard it…

At home, not more than 15 or 20 minutes later I was in my front yard tending to my veggie garden. 3 black teenagers (apparently teens – at least they looked like it) were milling around on bicycles in the street/on the sidewalk just outside my place. I heard them reference each other with the word, “nigger” 4 times inside of 5 minutes. “Hey nigger, get over here!” “Hey nigger, when do you have to be home?” You get the idea…

So this morning it’s now all over the news that Riley Cooper – Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver who happens to be white – made the mistake of getting caught on cell phone video with the quote, “…I’ll jump that fence and fight all those niggers.” It was honestly 50% of the news that I heard this morning – SportsCenter, Mike & Mike on ESPN radio, Colin Cowherd on ESPN radio, even on the local morning news that I watch every day. Everybody is talking about it. And they’re not painting it as a pretty picture. Some of the adjectives I heard used to describe it were – “disgusting,” “uncalled for,” “Neanderthal,” “absolutely unacceptable,” “offensive,” etc.

Call me stupid, but I guess I just don’t get it. I mean, sure, the word itself hearkens back to slavery which, of course, is a bad piece of our history. But if it’s that horrible of a word, why do black people refer to other black people as niggers? And if it’s NOT that horrible of a word, why is it so newsworthy when people of other races use it? Why is Riley Cooper vilified by the media (including at least 1 person I heard who also called for him to be suspended) AND fined by his employer for using a slur that’s so commonly used already? Don’t get me wrong – I don’t feel the need to use the word and I also don’t get why anyone would. But what I REALLY don’t get is what seems to be such a GLARING double standard…