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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Ominous N-Word

A National Debate is in Process

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Whatever I say ain’t gonna ‘mount to hill of beans anyways when it comes to the N-word. Some people gonna use and some abuse it. But is it a nice thing to say? That is the question.

For certain, it ain’t politically correct, whether it is socially acceptable. That’s the reason why they call it the N-word instead of nigger, and that’s the reason hip hop kids spell out “nigga” instead of nigger- to avoid using the derogatory. Unless we get into book burning, that N-word will forever be blazed into early century old literature.

But now we got the A-word for ass, the B-word for bitch, the D-word for dong, the F-word for sex, and, of course, the S-word. Shit! I said it anyway. Excuse me, Imus.

My grandkids shock me when one tells me the other said the B-word. We have become an alphabet soup culture of profanity. It is not the word that means a hill of beans, but the thought behind the word- the profane thought. GEEZ!

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. A man doesn’t have to call me a nigger to think that I am a nigger. To stop himself from calling me a nigger, he, instead, calls me the N-word. It’s easier on the eyes to see the N-word in print, rather than the word nigger. HOWEVER, it makes me no difference whether he thinks it or says it. I could care less.

[Editor Note: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that radio host Don Imus ' comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team were "disgusting" and she was pleased he was fired… Asked how she handled racist, sexist comments directed her way, Rice laughed and replied: "I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself. And I really don't care because, you know, I'm a mature woman."]

Who controls whom? Why would I be offended by any word in the English language? A Word is only a word. We grew up being called niggers to our face by whites. I don’t know if white people ever completely grew out of the language usage. We thought that some racist would become more cultured or that they would just all died off. Nevertheless, in any case, our parent built us a psychological fence against it.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. We sang it more in Texas than “We Shall Overcome”.

Many years later, while in prison, I studied a course called Neuro-Linguistics, taught by Dr. Danny Sengel, a fellow inmate. He taught that we are conditioned by words. The logic behind a man’s thinking is encoded in words, even if the thought is not expressly stated. You can read a man’s thoughts by his words or the lack thereof. This is why silence is so golden. You must guess what I’m thinking.

The class was very interesting because we learned how to communicate without the use of words (called a “silent fast”), by using signs, signals, body language, eye contact, and grunts. We see it everyday. We hear it everywhere. For example, “’Sup” means, “What is up?” It is a form of greeting now heard in street talk. But in prison, we never uttered the word ‘sup, it was always a hiss like a snake (zup).

Neuro-Linguistics was a new school of logics that gave recognition to the fact that we are so conditioned by words, that words affect our nervous system. As an example, Dr. Sengel would ask the class: “How do you feel when I say, ‘Good morning’? Now compare that feeling with how you would feel if I said, ‘Go to hell’.” Of course, you would feel differently. But the difference in feeling is internal- objectively speaking, these are only words, and should not affect you at all.

As training, cons practiced it in prison. Some inmates would come up to you with the meanest expression on their face and some ugly provocative words railing in your face, dirty words flying out of the mouths, simply to see how you would react. It’s a science in communication and interpretation, a cute way of saying “intimidation”. There is an intimidation factor in language, depending on who you say what to whom, and consequences to follow.

Some people can’t handle raw communications. It makes them feel uneasy. But Mario Puzzo, author of “The Godfather”, recognized the power of words and how they affect people’s nervous system in the opening passage of “Fools Die”. People read horror stories and internalize fear. In fact, we are conditioned by fears and are vulnerable to those who manipulate our fears. And, some people manipulate our fear by words.

But it’s all like water on a duck’s back to me. Quack!

Don’t Miss Out On the Great Black Debates of the Day:

EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON: Imus Is Snoop's Frankenstein Monster

The Hutchinson led Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable has scheduled a press conference this morning at 10am in front of Geffen Records.
The groups aim is to call on David Geffen endorsed Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama to urge the label to denounce gangster rap lyrics, even though Geffen is now owned by Universal Music Group.
The group is also demanding a meeting with meeting with David Geffen and Snoop Dogg on "offensive rap lyrics."

Where: Interscope Geffen AM Records, 2200 Colorado Ave. , Santa Monica

When: Tuesday, April 17, 10:00 AM

A coalition of civil rights and women’s group leaders will call for an urgency meeting with David Geffen and rapper Snoop Dogg and for them to make a public endorsement of “A Gangster Rappers Pledge for Clean Rap Lyrics.” Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson will also call on Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama who has been endorsed by and received major campaign funding from Geffen to issue a statement denouncing gangster rap lyrics and urging Geffen records to sign the pledge for clean rap lyrics.

[Contributed by Eddie Griffin]

Russell Simmons spoke to ABC News from Chicago, where he was preparing for an Oprah Winfrey town hall meeting on the subject of rap lyrics, which will also feature hip-hop artist Common, who raps about love and spirituality, Kansas City Star sports writer Jason Whitlock, former NAACP president Bruce Gordon and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

A press release from the Winfrey show said, "The group will address whether or not there is a double standard in this country, what behavior different races are willing and not willing to tolerate, and why women and minorities often are targets for derogatory and degrading comments. Winfrey asks the panel to consider if this incident could be a 'tipping point' for American society."


Media Contact:
Angela Bankhead, Publicist

Founded in February 2007, Songhai News is an informative, proactive Black Collegiate Newspaper and is housed in the African-American Studies Program Honors Society at The University of Houston Main Campus. The publication features an array of articles primarily geared towards the political, social, economic and artistic issues of people of African descent and other racial minority groups.

The second issue of Songhai News will be printed on April 23, 2007. Printed issues of the paper can be picked up on campus in the African American Studies Program, English Department, Communications Department, Blaffer Gallery, Honors College, Social Work, Women's Studies, The Career Center, The Urban Experience Program, Moody Towers and Cougar Place. The newspaper is also available online at

The publication features on a regular basis an array of articles that primarily focus on political, social, economic and artistic issues of people of African descent and other racial minorities. The theme of this issue is Women and verbs: a look at the N word. This April issue will take a look at black women in the fields of arts, social, politics, etc. The word portion of this issue will focus on an inside look into N word.

Existing staff members are students currently attending The University of Houston and are members of the Ankh Maat Wedjau Honor Society: Songhai Chapter, a division of the National Council of Black Studies. Staff members include k Ymberly Keeton, the Editor in Chief, who shall remain mysteriously hidden for reasons unknown to staff, LaShic Mondrell, the Managing Editor, and Angela Bankhead, the Publicist.

The newspaper also presents a monthly film screening in relation to editorial content entitled: PopCorn N Lemonade. The last film screening for this semester will be , "The N Word." The event will take place Thursday, April 26, 2007 @ 6pm in the Honors College-Commons (Located in the M.D. Anderson Library) Room 212. Free popcorn and lemonade will be served.

Free tickets can be picked up in the African American Studies Program, the Honors College, the English Department Office, Urban Experience Program, The Social Work Building, The Women's Studies Department and you can email Songhai News to get tickets.

If you would like a print copy of the newspaper email us or pick up a copy at The University of Houston. Interested in writing, submitting or reporting for Songhai News, you may also email us at:

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