Michael Richards, the N-Word, and the real villains

So Michael Richards messed up. Big deal. He's one actor--a superb comic actor, mind you--whose career has fallen far from where, on merit, it deserves to be. And he's apologised. Well, good. From what he said (and yes, I saw the original sickening diatribe), he certainly sounds sincere.

And really, can
you read minds? If you think he's sincere, maybe he's not. If you think he's insincere, maybe he isn't. None of that matters.

The only thing that does matter is what Richards
does. That's the main part of his apology with which I disagree, in which he says (in answer to Letterman's question) that his job now is to work on himself. I mean, sure, fine, that's good--but it would be better if he could work with others, especially fellow Whitefolks (Tim Wise is a great example of how to do that).

But what's infinitely more important than the fate of this (excellent) actor is the structure of Hollywood itself. Hollywood is in the heart of Native American land (i.e., what they call "Hispanic" in order to suggest foreign squatters rather than original owners). Yet the TV and movie output of Hollywood would have one believe that First Nations and "Hispanic" people hardly exist in the US, minus one or two tokens.

While Africans (i.e., Americanised ones) fare better than do our cousins, we have been Hollywood's victim since its inception, earning millions of dollars for our "masters" through their racist depictions of us. Today, the related music (and now video game tie-in) industry is a plantation full of the most self-hating House Slaves whose names (Li'l Kim, the late Biggie Smalls, 50 Cent) are testimony to a self-image of racial worthlessness. We're told "It's Hard to Be a Pimp"--who's really getting paid for this filth? Who's getting the big money? And don't even get me started on the abuse of Arab and Muslim images.

Br. Earl Ofari Hutchison writes: "Former Seinfeld star Michael Richards quickly bowed to public pressure and apologized for his boneheaded N word laced diatribe against black customers who allegedly heckled him during his appearance at the Laugh Factory. But Richards was a soft target. He's a white man that sprinted way over the line of racial etiquette.

"It was a no brainer that blacks [sic] would rage against him. They have done the same against the legion of other white celebrities, politicians and public figures that have gotten caught with their racial pants hanging down. When the predictable firestorm hits, they back peddle fast, do their mea culpas and declare they're not racist. The same can't be said for the legion of black [sic] comedians and rappers that have virtually canonized the word. They sprinkle the word throughout their rap lyrics and comedy lines, and black [sic] writers, and filmmakers go through lengthy gyrations to justify using the word."


H. Lewis Smith said…

Los Angeles, CA., Author H. Lewis Smith has written a thought provoking, culturally divided book that will not only spark heated conversation, but can also bring about real change. The N-word is often used in the African American community amongst each other and is generally not a problem when spoken by another African American. However, once the word is used by a Caucasian person, it brings on other effects. The question is "who can use the word and why?" Smith believes it is a word that should be BURIED!!!!

The book is written in a manner that all can understand. The points are well-taken and the wording is easy to follow. There are quotes from great people in our history including Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, James Baldwin and many, many others. Smith has mixed history with honesty, love with life, education with effects. This is a great book for educators, parents, managers, professionals, newsmen, and anyone else wanting an in-depth look at the N-word, the effects and the solutions. A MUST READ!!!!

To learn more about Bury that Sucka, please visit http://www.burythatsucka.com
Tad Hargrave said…
And of course this lifts up larger issues indeed.

Do I think that Michael Richards spends his days fantasizing about lynching black people? No.

Do I think he uses the N-word wherever he can fit it in? No.

Do I think he consciously looks down on black people? No.

He's no more racist than most white people.

And that's just the point, most of us white folks are so racist we don't even see it anymore. We don't mean to be but - the fish were the last to discover water and all.

In the USA white folks live their daily lives on the backs of trillions of dollars of unpaid (and unwilling) labour done by enslaved africans (work done on land taken - exceedingly unwillingly - from Native Americans). They live with daily privileges that they never even see. Want to catch a cab? Easy. Get into college? No problem. We get cheaper quotes on cars, less hassle moving into apartments and followed around less in stores. And if we're caught, hey, we'll still be given a lighter sentence than a black person.

Is it still racism when it simply feels normal? Is it still hatred when our hand isn't on the noose?

In his profound book The Culture of Make Believe, Derrick Jensen argues that the answer is yes. That hatred has merely changed shape into a sort of entitlement. That entitlement is invisible until threatened. Then the hatred spills out.

Michael Richards is not the problem. The things he said hateful and hurtful but they aren't the larger issue.

More intriguing was his interview with Jesse Jackson where the Reverend pointed out that Seifeld never had a regulat black character and that this was the norm for cable TV "all night, all white". And that the same went for movies.

Of course, this seemed like news to Michael Richards. He had no idea why.

Do most of us white folks notice it? No.

If we do, do we question why? No.

If we do, do we do anything useful? No.

And that's the problem.

-Tad Hargrave

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