I am Not a Nigger: A Rant About This Nation’s Race-based Hate

For eight years the United States of America was led by its first black President of African descent. Obama is the product of a black Kenya-born father and white Kansas-born mother. This distinction is worth noting. President Obama is married to his (one and only) wife Michelle Obama, is the father of two daughters Malia and Sasha, and has spent eight years in the White House without scandal and controversy (real or imagined by the Republican Party). They resided at the most famous address in the United States, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., a house of, for, and by the people that, despite the revisionist truthism from the odious, self-proclaimed historian and former Fox News apologist Bill O’Reilly, was built by black slaves who were unpaid, hungry, and mistreated, as attested to by First Lady Abigail Adams.

These facts shouldn’t be taken lightly as we have had 42 prior examples of white men who share the legacy of the Office of the Presidency with Mr. Obama, many of whom carried on with extra-marital affairs, children born out of wedlock and other scandalous behavior (see the affairs of the 29th President Warren G. Harding as an example).

President Obama stepped on the campaign trail in 2008 at a time when the country was facing its worst economic environment since the Great Depression. Bank failures and a freezing of the credit market, brought on by easy term mortgages and questionable lending practices that were securitized and packaged as exotic investments with high interest rates (and very little by way of security or regulatory oversight) caused the stock market to topple beginning October 11, 2007, in one of its worst prolonged freefalls in its history (since the Great Depression).

President Obama in his first 100 days pushed through a landmark bailout plan for the financial and auto industry, moved to form a consumer protection agency (Consumer Financial Protection Agency), passed a fair pay equity act (Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act) and funding for a New Deal-style public works project to repair roads and bridges and restore faith in the American spirit (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). At the end of his term, this President presided over one of the largest economic expansions since the New Deal, a lower unemployment rate, a framework for a national healthcare system, including mandatory coverage for all citizens, and significant consumer protections and reforms of the banking and insurance industries responsible, in part, for the Great Recession and collapse of the financial markets.

How has he been repaid for his efforts to unstick a stuck economy and begin the process of unwinding a horribly conceived two-front war in Iraq and Afghanistan? By being called the equivalent of ‘nigger’ from the floor of the House of Representatives during a joint session speech in September 2009 by Congressman Joe Wilson, a tea-party conservative Republican from South Carolina. Although Congressman Wilson received a harsh rebuke from both parties and a formal censure through a party line House vote of 240–179, he has easily been reelected to Congress in 2010, 2012 and 2014 by votes of 53%, 96% (unopposed) and 62% respectively. Because bigotry and hatred have no limits in America.

Racists have consistently shown their displeasure with the elevation of Obama as the nation’s first black President of African descent by increasing memberships in white supremacist groups and using every opportunity to engage in shockingly ugly, stereotypical behavior that has somehow become accepted as our new norm. An AP poll taken on anti-black preferences saw a growth in these attitudes from 48% pre-Obama to 51% or more than half of those surveyed after the election of President Obama. The subsequent elevation of Donald J. Trump as the leader of the Republicans and 2016 Presidential candidate who would be elected the 45th President of the United States has emboldened the vitriol of the right-wing’s darkest supporters such as David Duke, who would make the racist outbursts of former U.S. Senator Theodore G. Bilbo of Mississippi seem like pacifism.

A Fourth of July parade held in Sheridan, Indiana on July 4, 2016, exemplified the ignoble career of racism, ignorance, and the word nigger. An “unregistered” float entered in the town’s annual parade by self-proclaimed, flag-waving, knuckle dragging, Trump supporter Don Christy, 73, denoted his displeasure with the former President by depicting him being flushed in a toilet with a sign reading, “Lying African.” Now we can devote time debating the low level of intelligence and lack of cognitive brain activity it must take for a person so profane to come up with such a ‘dis’ of a sitting President but the fact that these type of insults are hurled with such frequency and impunity, eliciting little to no surprise, is troubling. He should have simply proclaimed what he meant and called Obama a nigger, because bigotry and hatred have no limits in America.

There’s a line from a rap song “Fight the Power’ from 90s rap trio Public Enemy that holds prescient words on the career of nigger and the feeling that many African Americans have about their role in society and as part of the American Experience:

’Cause I’m Black and I’m proud
I’m ready and hyped plus I’m amped
Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps
Sample a look back you look and find
Nothing but rednecks for four hundred years if you check

The line brings to light a feeling that many blacks (certainly myself included) feel about the existence of the two Americas — one that is a Horatio Alger, rags to riches, land of opportunity for all who are white — and the other that is bleak, hopeless and inherently racist toward black and brown people and incredible sexist and mysogynistic toward woman, unless your name is Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Stacey Dash, or Kellyanne Conway. For all of the contributions blacks have made to this country, it is only too easy to be reminded by those pursuing a racist agenda designed to confuse, distort and rewrite the truths about our ugly history that bigotry and hatred have no limits in America.

Noted self-proclaimed Harvard educated “historian” and again the former Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly (who lost his job because of optics and hypocrisy, amidst sexual misconduct charges that has been lobbied against him for years), no favorite of the left or rational, thinking people of any ilk, decided it best to educate the legion of dittoheads who follow him when, hearing that the former FLOTUS (Michelle Obama, a woman with an Ivy-league law degree and equally impressive collection of Prada to rival that of the current FLOTUS, Melania Trump) referenced the fact in her speech to the Democratic National Convention on July 25, 2016, that she lived in a house built by slaves (which it was), he retort that those slaves were well-fed, housed and clothed.

The audacity of entitlement, privilege, and arrogance to suggest that those Negroes somehow got off easy because they worked to build the White House and weren’t at all mistreated or dehumanized in their lot because, well quite frankly, their servitude was rewarded with the necessities of life such as food and water, the very substances we all expect as humans existing in this universe (see Abraham Maslow’s seminal 1943 work, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” and his “Hierarchy of Need” for a primer). As if to suggest that the price for freedom and basic human dignity is three hots and a cot, while you toil under the lash to help make America great. Because bigotry and hatred have no limits in America.

To suggest that the 400 or so “laborers,” err slaves, were nothing more than property no better than the hogs that rooted in their own feces to be slaughtered for food or the cows that produced milk is a dishonor to the memory of those bonded persons, Americans by birth if not by right or law, who sacrificed all and were given little, a whitewashing of history in order to assuage complicity and guilt. The narrative of the happy-go-lucky nigger who was subservient and well cared for blots the stain of this country’s ugly and shameful original sin. What is more dangerous is not only how insipid this spin is but the wide-spread acceptance it has among an even wider swath of undereducated persons, many of whom see Trump as the savior of the white race and promise for the future. If such a future is to rebirth the Third Reich from the former Weimar Republic and ashes of a disgraceful history.

The narrative that O’Reilly puts forth gives rise to the invidious nature of nigger and how those who justify segregationist theories operate. Klansman (once, now, and always) David Duke tossed his hat in the ring to run for the U.S. Senate in his home state of Louisiana (and thankfully is too odious a creature to ever be elected anything more than Grand Puba of the but for the grace of God we are white society). This has created an uncomfortable situation for the establishment Republican National Committee, who in an attempt to seem more open and accommodating, understand that the rhetoric of hate put forth by members of its party and its current leader (Trump) has given rise to the vilest of racist characters who made Trump the leader and cleared a path to their ascension and reassertion into our body politic. Because bigotry and hatred have no limits in America.

Our Founding Fathers certainly grappled with the contradiction that was a desire to be free from English rule but not grant such largesse to some 20% of the U.S. population who was enslaved at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed at Independence Hall on July 3, 1776.

The desire to change the lot of those whose skin color was different than those of the Founders was not a strong one. 15 years prior to the pursuit of independence, George Washington took out an ad in the Maryland Gazette on August 21, 1761, seeking assistance in the location of four fugitive slaves who had fled his Mount Vernon (Fairfax County, VA) plantation:

The descriptions used in the ad are akin to saying these lesser niggers have sought freedom, which for their limited intellectual capacity would not be advisable. As they were property, however, the return of Cupid (age 23–25), Neptune (age 25–30), Peras (age 35–40), and Jack (30) fetched the slave chaser £40 (approximately $3,600 USD today), or some proportionate amount thereof if captured separately. How can one not fail to see the great lie that was the pursuit of freedom from tyranny for some at the expense of others deemed inferior?

Our nation is rooted in racism. It’s not a lefty statement of divisiveness or derision against the U.S. but a statement of fact. Look no further than World War II, when we instituted a policy of the internment of 127,000 Japanese-AMERICAN citizens who were born and raised in the United States, not for their protection but because they were highly identified as being different from “US” and a threat to the national security of the country after Pearl Harbor. German-Americans who lived in the U.S. at this time were not subject to this type of illegal behavior, which stood against the very principles of our Bill of Rights and the rights of all Americans to the pursuit of happiness.

No, not even the Supreme Court would rule on the side of our better angels (Korematsu v. United States) and provide relief to our interned brethren, many who would die in these camps and never return to their rightful homes. 40 years would pass before the U.S. government would issue a slight mea culpa and say sorry fellow citizens, our bad for, you know, stripping you of your humanity and locking you away like animals. If it’s any consolation, now you know how those niggers over there feel! Because bigotry and hatred have no limits in America.

Balbir Singh Sodhi was murdered outside of a gas station he owned in Mesa, Arizona by a gun-toting Freedom Fighter, Frank Silva Roque, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. On little more information than the fact he was looking to “shoot a Muslim” in retaliation for the attack on America, Mr. Roque took his vengeance out on a peaceful business owner and, wait for it, follower of the Sikh, not Muslim religion (maybe the Christian-based, homeschool madras that separate white children from liberal-imposed diversity mandated classrooms should spend time teaching what different religions are, unless restoring a one nation, one God order is the agenda).

Karmic in his stupidity that if Mr. Roque had ever picked up a damn book on world religion he would have come to understand that the traditional headdress, a freedom Mr. Sodhi was afforded to exercise as a citizen of this country, was not that of the Muslim religion since Sikh is to Muslim as ignorant, redneck is to rational, thinking person. A 53-year-old business owner and family man lost his life to an in-bred, racist, imbecile, who saw a nigger draped in a head towel.

Because, bigotry and hatred have no limits in America.

Roque would shoot at several other people that fateful day of September 15, 2011, in Mesa before he drove his truck and diminished IQ to a local bar to boast about his deed and the ensuing investigation of the “dead turban head down the road.” The piece of uneducated trash was convicted of Sodhi’s murder and initially sentenced to death, a sentence later reversed to natural life in 2006. As Roque sits in the Maricopa County jail, a defender of freedom to some, a man adjudicated with the mental acuity of a 5 year-old, which is a convenient determination for a man too stupid to properly function in society but smart enough to own a firearm, a family and a nation mourn yet another senseless death fueled by hate, ignorance and the invidious career of nigger.

Let’s not fool ourselves into believing that Mr. Roque’s actions were isolated as the number of attacks on non-Muslims who were believed to be our enemies rose after 9/11, fueled on by the hate rhetoric and politics of racial division fanned by right-wing media (peering over at Fake, err, Fox News) and their heroes such as Andrew Breitbart, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Mr. O’Reilly. It has even greater legs as our current Commander-in-Chief, the Twitter king, has attempted (unsuccessfully so far) to install a travel ban on some, but not all, Muslims entering the United States, including those who are lawful citizens who made the mistake of putting their faith in a system whose cards in the deck are stacked against them.

Funny, however, that the ban only impacts those countries whose citizens are in great need of the protection found in the words of the famous poem, “The New Colossus,” by Emma Lazarus, written in 1883 and emblazoned on the Statue of Liberty:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The ban does not impact citizens of say, Saudi Arabia, 15 of whose citizens flew in the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center towers, Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania September 11, 2001. Maybe the business interests of the current President, “Trump” a need to target the ban toward those who truly cause harm to America. Because bigotry and hatred have no limits in America.

It is more than time that this country begins the awful dialogue of our racist past and move toward truth and reconciliation. This needs to happen NOW because as the nation browns and racial minorities become the majority more attempts will be made by the status quo to suppress rights, fan the flames of hate and division, and impact that which is truly special, unique, and great about America: our diversity. Has this been done before? Of course, it has in a place not too far away with a past mired in racial fear, violence, and terror. South Africa.

We can make America (stay) Great simply by making America tolerant again. We can make America (stay) Great by simply rejecting the politics of fear, division, hate, and ignorance and reach across the aisle and love one another. We can make America (stay) Great by reading more, reacting less, and recognizing our strength comes from our differences. The four individual and distinct fingers and thumb on your hand are more powerful when they work together as a fist but might is not always right.

The word ‘nigger’ is an invidious word. It is a word rooted in a history of racial prejudice, violence and murder and, for many, represents the ugliest side of the American experience. Substitute the word nigger with ‘boy,’ ‘colored,’ ‘monkey,’ and the inherent visceral qualities of ‘nigger’ remain intact.

Nigger is a word whose history is rooted in racial discrimination, injustice, and the unequal distribution of wealth, power, and influence in America. It doesn’t become more acceptable or desirous a word to utter when used in rap songs, popular cultural references or the arts and media by either blacks or whites. A person who uses the word nigger uses it with an undertone of disgust and contempt toward the very person or persons this vile insult is intended toward. It’s time for the odious and invidious career of nigger to retire.

Because maybe bigotry and hatred should have a limit in America!

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Don Parker

Freelance writer and professional trainer with varied interests and a general curiosity about life.