Sticks and Stones

I’ve read previous blogs about the  experience of black people in Georgia. This blog is about my first encounters with what Americans could classify as race related issues.

First I need to define my stance on the use of the word, nigger (including any variation thereof). I think this word in American society represents nothing less than hatred and demeaning of a group of people. Any effort to try to ‘own’ it or explain it as anything other is blind denial and/or self-illusionment. I think as society moves in a particular direction, the word will phase out due to awkwardness, socio-political rise of the group of people it’s used toward, and  political correctness. (This will hasten away even faster if certain segments of black community ceases to glorify and/or embrace the word.)

It also must be noted as fact that the Georgian society has NO history with the black population of the world, much, much less Black Americans. With that said, the evolution of the introduction of the word into their speech is debatable.

So here is my short story:

Upon arrival, as I said before, the oldest son started speaking to me and invited his friends to hang out, too. He asked questions of me for his friends, and his parents. His family hosted two other volunteers before me. The last one, Harriet, left in June. She was from South Africa. The one before that only stayed three days due to health reasons.  Labo asked if I had hobbies or sports that interested me and then he remembered a funny story given the similarity of the first guest and myself.

He had taken the first TLG Volunteer to the Gymnasium where other townspeople asked and were excited for him to play basketball with them as Labo said matter-of-factly, “Because he was a nigger. I nigger like you. But he bounced ball like this [making non-athletic gestures of a person bouncing a ball].  But he couldn’t play at all! {laughs}

Hearing this story struck me weird on all sorts of levels. But coming from the south, I KNOW when someone of white distinction is being malicious or not. And this kid had NO levels or indication of maliciousness. He was simply telling a story with a stereotypes from American culture. No harm intended… but the sting was still there.

When I get him alone (and I remember) I will instruct him on the cultural sensitivity of the word in our beloved country.

I’m not going to make a blanket statement about the N-word in Georgia just yet.  Stay tuned…

“Why do I call myself a nigger, you ask me? 
Well it’s because motherfuckers want to blast me 
And run me outta my neighborhood 
They label me as a dope dealer 
Yo! And say that I’m no good 
Nigger, this 
Nigger, that 
The actual fact is that I’m black 
And bound to attract 
The attention of another 
I mean the other 
But I’m a mother fucker that’ll have them running for cover”
Niggaz for Life, NWA

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2 responses to “Sticks and Stones

  1. In Russian, “black guy” is “nigr”, which comes from the Spanish or Latin, people suppose, as it doesn’t really mean anything in Russian except for black guy. But if you say “chiorni chelovek”, which is “black guy”, it means an “evil man” or the “devil”. So I guess people win some and lose some in language. As for Georgian, the word first came from the Russian (though they have a word, “zangi” for “black guy”), but became really popular I think because of rap music, and they simply have no idea about the negative connotations. But yeah, I try to tell them too. I don’t know how many times I’ve told Georgian kids, “actually maybe you shouldn’t use that word.” – Shawn

  2. Pingback: Sticks and Stones; Revisited | The Georgian Chronicles: Part I

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