Sarah Palin Tweets Support to Schlessinger

sarah palin winksWith Sarah Palin tweeting her support for Dr. Laura Schlessinger and countless others arguing that if it’s okay for Black people to use the N-word, it should be okay for Dr. Laura, I have to weigh in.

Sarah Palin and the other Schlessinger supporters will get no counter argument from me — not on that issue. I think they’re right. As far as I know, there are no laws banning the use of the N-word – a word that most understand to be a vile expression of contempt – a label used to describe the second-rate, the no account, the loathsome, the disgusting, and the vile — a word that historically has been used to demean and ostracize an entire sector of the American population. They can, and dare I say, should, use it – if using it adequately helps them to express how they feel. This would be a benefit to me. I, for one, am longing to know who-is-who in this land of post-racial political correctness.

I was born and raised in the Northeast– in the Bronx and Queens, New York. Although the N-word was used throughout the history of this country to demean Blacks particularly in the South, by the time my generation came of age, the United States had had a major social shift. Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights movement, Black Pride – all of this set the stage for my generation. Today, those born after Brown or the Civil Rights movement live and work in a world where political correctness trumps equal opportunity in employment and fair housing. The use of racial epithets or ethnic slurs is rarely heard in polite company. As far back as I can remember, using the n-word was taboo. With the exception of the adolescent boys in my junior high school – one of which was the hip-hop mogul who founded Def Comedy Jam the show Schlessinger was referring to as she went on her N-word rampage, I hardly ever heard the n-word.

Then came hip hop. Many argue that they (members of the hip hop community) reclaimed the N-word. Michael Eric Dyson has written extensively on this topic. I have neither the time nor the talent to go down the path of Michael Eric Dyson so I’ll simply provide you with a link to his writings. I will say that I was around some of the early pioneers of hip hop. Russell Simmons, often referred to as the “father of hip hop”, lived in my neighborhood and went to my school. We were in the same grade, had the same friends, and knew each other – although not well. But I was close to a few of his running buddies. This notion that there was an effort to consciously reclaim the N-word is something that wasn’t evident to me. What I witnessed was a bunch of adolescent boys doing what adolescent boys do – stretching boundaries, trying to be acknowledged, often using foul language, spitting, smoking, cursing, and so forth, to get attention.

And attention is what they got. Unfortunately, for nearly all of them, it wasn’t the kind of attention Russell Simmons got. Let’s just say that those who continued to use that language and accompanying thuggery were not embraced by the dominant culture. No, they found themselves chronically unemployed — or underemployed, if they were lucky enough to find a job at all. Until they conformed to the social standards or norms of today, they found themselves trapped on the outside only accepted by members of their own social circle.

Dr. Laura, like the Black boys in my old neighborhood, has a right to say almost anything, including the N-word. And like the Black boys in my old neighborhood, Dr. Laura will likely suffer consequences.  The day she went on her N-word extravaganza, she seemed to imply that the N-word is used by “Blaaacks” with impunity and therefore the same should be true for her and others. The problem with that claim is that it simply isn’t true. The small percentage of Blacks who use the N-word know that it can’t be used with impunity and so are selective about when, where, and with whom they use it.

While there are comedians, usually Blacks, who use that word in their comedy acts, you’d be hard pressed to find them using it in their everyday language – at Home Depot, at a PTA meeting, at a job interview, at church, in the supermarket.  Conversely, the late George Carlin and a host of other comedians also use offensive language in their acts. Does Schlessinger feel that people are oversensitive (the term she used to describe the black caller who was offended by the use of the n-word) when they’re offended by the use of the word c*nt or b*tch? Does she assume that George Carlin’s language is acceptable to white people because she’s heard other white people use that language with each other and because Carlin uses it on HBO? Of course not. So why does she or Palin or any of their supporters think that Black people accept the use of the N-word.

I am Black. Most of the people in my family are Black. I have known thousands of Black people. Again, with the exception of the pre-pubescent boys in my old neighborhood, the Black people in my world didn’t and don’t use that word. We find it offensive as did the black woman caller on Schlessinger’s show. But somehow Laura Schlessinger, Sarah Palin and their supporters think they know what should or shouldn’t offend.

I have already acknowledged that there is a contingent of Black folk who say they have reclaimed the word. Michael Eric Dyson is one such person. But this “reclaiming” is not representative of the black masses. Even Russell Simmons, who benefited financially by producing rap artists who used it heavily, now avoids using it in public. It is just not a socially acceptable expression.

But more important than it being socially unacceptable is that it is a painful reminder of America’s unhealed wound -  which makes it all the more  troubling that Schlessinger seemed to relish repeating the n-word on-air eleven times in 5 minutes with Sarah Palin, a national figure,  leaping  to her defense.

Sarah Palin offered these words of encouragement to Dr. Laura via Twitter, “Dr.Laura:don’t retreat…reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence”isn’t American,not fair”).” And later she wrote, “Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!”

The notion that Laura Schlessinger’s 1st amendment rights ceased to exist thanks to activists trying to silence her is preposterous. The only thing that will cease to exist for Dr. Laura as a result of this episode is her job.

Sharon Kyle

Sharon Kyle is the Co-Founder and Publisher of the LA Progressive. With her husband Dick, she publishes several other print and online newsletters on political and social justice issues. In addition to her work with the LA Progressive, Ms. Kyle holds a Juris Doctorate and is an adjunct professor at Peoples College of Law in Los Angeles. Sharon is the proud mother and step-mother of four children, Wade, Deva, Raheem and Linnea and has three children-in-law, Dan, Kelli and Yoko.

Published by the LA Progressive on August 19, 2010
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About Sharon Kyle

Sharon Kyle, J.D. is the Publisher of the LA Progressive which she co-founded with her husband Dick Price. Ms. Kyle is an adjunct professor of law at Peoples College in Los Angeles. She sits on the board of the ACLU Pasadena/Foothills Chapter and is on the editorial board of the BlackCommentator.com. Photo courtesy Wadeva Images. www.wadevaimages.com

Comments

  1. I am so happy that the ugly (inside and out) crazy old gym teacher reaped what she had sowed. She could have gotten her argument across by saying “N word” and not using the word and by not saying “don’t NAACP me” but like Michael Richards AKA “Cosmo Kramer”,she ends up the the trash heap of history, a history of her own making. I am so happy that the free market AKA sponsors started to pull their ads (I guess they were exercising their free speach) and she finally realized that she was just another “run of the mill gabby” and her days were numbered. She realized that she was not as smart as she thought she was, finally!

    The problem with Palin is the same when she mistakenly referred to Ronald Reagan Eureka College, being in California and we all know its in Illinois, same thing, she does not fact check anything she is going to say. She is soooo Palin!

  2. Mike Varady says:

    Re: Palin and Schlessinger

    Well, actually about Palin. The Queen of Quitters gets too much attention in the progressive media. Some must be written, but I’ve heard as much as 45 minutes reviling her on some progressive programs. In doing this, these hosts and publications like yours are lionizing her far more than she should be. This started with Oprah, who should have at least countered with another program with a progressive such as Stephanie Miller who’s bright, witty, and camera-wise.

    These programs — Randi Rhodes, Nike Malloy, and many others, are unwittingly helping the Quitter by giving her more publicity — and yet they eat their own young. I’ve attended a few meetings of the Coffee Party, and although there are times it moves slowly, it makes progress DESPITE snide comments from those progressive programmers — when they comment on it at all. I wonder how many of those hosts have attended any meetings lately? I should think they’d give more publicity to it — what the public doesn’t hear about often enough it doesn’t remember. I’d even go so far as to say that the hosts should talk in front of some of the neetings — not necessarily in combatting manner, but in a helpful one to move them along better.

    Sincerely, Mike Varady

  3. Luke Easter says:

    Black History Month (Don Imus now Dr. Laura?)

    The cries of the weak and helpless are heard from the shore,
    To a ship bound for the America’s under the master’s roar,
    “Up the anchor, set all sails, let this profitable journey begin,”
    With a laugh, “you’re safety’s temporary, we’ll be back again.”

    If today’s descendants of slavery had a small idea, if they only knew,
    For freedom the daily struggles their ancestors had to go through,
    There could never be a class to prepare or nothing you’d ever do,
    Black kids would realize wearing pants below the butt, is not cool.

    February’s the selected month celebrating what’s called Black History,
    Why we only have one and not all twelve is an even bigger mystery,
    Not that I’m in denial about the planting & harvest of Blacks as slaves,
    But, is there really that much difference between now and yesterday?

    And if there truly is then how come African Americans don’t rejoice,
    Exercising this freedom in the form of voting, we died for this choice,
    Doing well in school, obeying parents, seeking to expand and excel,
    The 21st century practice of bondage is simply none other than jail.

    And the 13th Amendment really wasn’t all that effective because,
    Many Blacks are still slaves, this time to smoking, drinking & drugs,
    What’s the sign of a predominantly black neighborhood? Think fast,
    The streets and schools of the inner city are usually filled with trash.

    The bible tells us that, “a house divided against itself will not stand,”
    Some Blacks act like they’re charter members of the Klu Klux Klan,
    I never read in the paper; heard from a radio, saw on television news,
    Whites shooting other Whites for Starter Jackets or Air Jordan shoes.

    February is more than the exploits of Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King,
    It’s about the everyday pride of our history to each other we excitedly bring,
    After the day is over, chores are done, are you willing to answer the call?
    Black America is more than hip-hop rappers or playground basketball.

    There’s big money in entertainment and sports, millions earned and paid,
    Truth is that many of our people still have to struggle with minimum wage,
    Back History is more than meager celebrations, a speech or gala parades,
    It’s Black Americans presenting ourselves as examples every single day.

    Plantations, cotton fields, whipped, raped, hung 24/7, cruelty didn’t tarry,
    Slavery was the backbone of building this country & all we get is February?
    Who was responsible for the crops, creating growth, centuries of hard work?
    As breath of life left our bodies we weren’t allowed burial in the same dirt.

    Slaves taught each other to read and learn the bible, reaching for the stars,
    Some even had the nerve to set their goals far beyond the planet Mars,
    Considered property, a statement about our race is that we’d NEver GROw,
    Those latter two words combined were used to identify our race as Negro.

    2008, we’ve more than paid the price with mountains of blood, sweat & tears,
    It’s time to stop setting aside one month and start recognizing us by years,
    Yowza master, yessir boss, are these times actually many decades in the past?
    If we continue killing & disrespecting our own race how long can we last?

    Don Imus uses the word, “Ho’s” so we have condemn him to hell,
    Hip-Hop Rappers use it in songs, millions of records they will sell,
    There is a huge outrage and a cry of racism when used by Whites,
    However, Blacks describe their women with this and it is all right?

    Guy #1 broadcast it on talk radio and he is fiercely under attack?
    #2 dudes get a pass played on likewise radio cause they’re Black,
    Certainly it’s a double standard so should there be any mystery?
    Why do we have such a hard time? Disrespecting our own history!

    Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, NYC & South Central, LA,
    Murders in the Black communities average several per day,
    You don’t have to be in a gang when shooters just drive by,
    Just being Black anywhere is the only criteria needed to die.

    Ok how many of you know who created the elevator, Alexander Mils,
    And Richard Spikes, invented the gearshift creating automatic thrills,
    Joseph Gambol, Super Charge System Internal Combustion Engines,
    Garrett A. Morgan, traffic light signals were his contributing invention.

    John Love’s pencil sharpener along with William Purvey’s fountain pen,
    Albert R. Robinson, rapid transit system’s electric trolley, all Black men,
    Joseph Smith the Lawn Sprinkler, the Hand Stamp William Purvey again,
    Dr. Charles R. Drew pioneered techniques preserving blood plasma when?

    I am sure at this point, that some of you are just about beginning to ask?
    No, Garrett Morgan did not invent but he did help update the gas mask,
    Also, the surgeon who helped stabilize plasma did not die as many say,
    He fell asleep at the wheel and a white hospital did not turn him away,

    John Burr did the Lawn Mower, Lee Barrage’s new Type Writing Machine,
    Charles Brooks, mastermind behind the street sweeper too keep cities clean,
    Phillip Downing the Letter Drop, W. A. Love the Advanced Printing Press,
    William Barry the Postmarking & Canceling Machine, nothing but the best.

    Everyday we use, Thomas W. Steward the Mop, Lloyd P. Ray the Dust Pan,
    Granville T. Woods, the automatic cut off switch yep still another Black man,
    Frederick Jones cool with the Air Conditioner, Lewis Lattimer Electric Lamp,
    Alice Parker, Heating Furnace & how many Blacks were Heavyweight Champ?

    Jan E. Matzelinger the Shoe Lacing Machine while Walter Sammons the Comb,
    Sarah Boone invented the Ironing Board, millions depend on these in their home,
    John Standard invented the refrigerator yeah just like this list the band played on,
    Many African Americans are engaged in doing & creating right instead of wrong.

    Life is more than entertainment, music Grammy’s and athletic MVP’s,
    Alex Haley’s “Roots” is something middle school students should see,
    There’s more to African Americans than Snoop Dogg, Beyonce, Jay-Z,
    Almost before everyone reading this was born that’s real Black History.

    Last but not least, for all of the years of slavery and discrimination we did tarry,
    There are twelve months in every year so why do we get the shortest, February?
    Well, if you think that’s a slap in the face stop what you’re doing and think again,
    Because we are in a very exclusive club, how exclusive? Read “American Indian.”

    In Leviticus sacrifices to God must be, “without blemish” this is how we should strive,
    To respond on a daily basis not through arrogance, standing tall with historical pride,
    One of the greatest oracles ever delivered was on August 28,1963, “I Have A Dream, ”
    Without battlefield soldiers like Rosa Parks there’s no generals like Martin Luther King.

    02/10/10 A Metro Seattle bus terminal was the scene of a senseless and vicious attack,
    A 15 year-old female was minding her business then viscously beaten by another Black,
    After the beat down she was stomped & kicked in the head as Metro Security looked on,
    While lying unconscious another Black teen stole her purse & the gang of ten was gone.

    Yeah right February the month assigned to honor African American History and celebrate,
    An innocent young lady lies so badly injured it’ll take medical professionals to resuscitate,
    While the gang escaped up the escalator laughing like hyenas there is some good news,
    The assault was captured on video surveillance cameras & of course it’s now on you tube.

    OK, I challenge you to watch the injustice like the 3 Metro Guards, who did not get involved,
    Now this means that just more than the act of, “Attempted Murder” also needs to be solved,
    And the saddest most disturbing of all, is this not a one time thing or even an isolated case,
    Never in recorded history have another people been so intent on destroying their own race.

    Black on Black crime while the attitude of security seemed to be let them kill each other,
    Not Whites, Asians, Hispanics no other race or creed just our own sisters and brothers,
    Why join the military go to a foreign country fight a war where you seem to be all alone?
    Put on your fatigues grab your weapons start the car there’s a battle right here at home.

    Probably the most amazing things are the incidents occurring in the years 2009 and 2010,
    Because in 2008 Barack H. Obama ran for President Of The United States oh did he win?
    Blacks get very upset as people like Rush Limbaugh & Sarah Palin show him no respect,
    Republicans, Democrats sure but then neither do some of us what else would you expect?

    02/11/10, there is a push on cable news to question the security guards and that too is fine,
    However, they are missing the main point about this, which is BOBC, Black On Black Crime,
    Slavery to freedom back to slavery as at least 5 are charged with felonies, possible jail time,
    This cancer of a blatant disregard for human life is malignant so how can we make it benign?

    June 1 1921, how many reading this have ever heard of the name, “Black Wall Street? ”
    A prime example of how before “Nike” as a Nationality we could successfully compete,
    Alas, a major African American movement resoundingly defeated and utterly destroyed,
    So why? Obviously because of jealousy on the part of the racial majority being annoyed.

    Now, let’s fast forward to the annals of our race in corporate main street of America today,
    There’s no longer a need for outside interference because openly we keep ourselves away,
    Truly it is not from any other thing except by what Black Americans choose to do and say,
    We have to do what brought us out of bondage in the first place, we must unite and pray.
    08/12/2010 Dr. Laura confronts a caller, uses the “N” word 11 times & all hell breaks loose,
    Urban League, NAACP, countless awareness groups are crying foul just like Mother Goose,
    The homicide count of African American youth gunned down in Chicago has risen sky high,
    A Black community comes together seeking an apology from Whites but not Blacks uh why?

    • Your poem is poignant and thought-provoking but I beg to differ on one point:
      “Never in recorded history have another people been so intent on destroying their own race.”

      Sadly, during the 20th century alone races/cultures have purged masses from within for a variety of supremist/selfish reasons:

      Mao Ze-Dong (China 1958 -69 and Tibet 1949 -50) between 49-78,000,000

      Stalin (USSR 1932 – 39) 23,000,000 (Includes his intentional starvation of the Ukraine)

      Adolf Hitler (Germany 1939 – 45) 12,000,000 Jews in concentration camps and civilians in WWII

      Jean Kambanda (Rwanda 1994) 800,000 Tutsis killed by Hutus

      Saddam Hussein (Iran 1980 – 90 and Kurdistan 1987 – 88) 600,000 Kurdish Arabs

      Whether it was BOBC, WOWC, COCC, AOAC…it was all senseless.

      What distinguishes what’s happening in the American inner cities from these examples is that it’s typically POOR BOBC! These are people who not only suffer from economic disparity, but in most cases, they have little education or social graces. Most importantly, they have been denied love. I have found that if you love someone and teach, by example, to love others, there is self love and that translates to less anger and crime.

      Still, it’s easy to point it all out as you have done, but after you call them to task, how do you solve it? How do we get past this???

      • Luke Easter says:

        They were leaders of the people, not the people themselves. In Black America we kill each other over sneakers, drug corners, designer clothes, warm-ups, send our own women on the streets to sell their bodies and beat the crap out of them if they don’t make enough. Car jack in our own neighboorhoods, rape and rob our own areas and drive by shootings where?
        No, not all but we destroy our own race more than any other on every level. Slavery brought us together while freedom drove us apart? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? If we ever united ourselves as the Jewish race in educational advancement as well as we do in basketball & track, look out.

  4. About 10 years ago, I read a very interesting book, “Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word.” Dr. Randall Kennedy explored its history and the diversity of its use throughout American History. It answered a lot of questions for me and yet stirred a bit of animosity within.

    Like Sharon, I recall growing up and being told it was a bad word. I recall also hearing my sister girlfriends use it daily on our 40-min MTA bus ride. I was one of the few white girls “allowed” in the back of the bus. (That in itself is such irony.) Still, we shared Now & Laters, Fanta Grape soda and sunflower seeds as we joked back and forth from school. I remember one day, in the midst of a very loud, rowdy conversation with about 8 of us trying to outdo the other regarding how we were going to dress for the upcoming Prince concert. My reply to my girl Tanya’s proclamation that she was going to dye her hair purple, was, “Nigga Please.” You could almost have heard a pin drop. Without being mean about it, Pebbles said, “Girl, sorry, you can’t use that word.” Karen and Tanya knodded and said, “if the wrong people hear you say that, they will beat you down.” I said, “sorry.” And after that, I have never uttered the word again.

    When I heard Dr. Laura had used the word, and then I heard how she used it, and then I heard how everyone was responding, I got angry. I am angry because the word exists. I am angry that blacks use it (reclaiming it for themselves)–it still sounds trashy to me. I am angry that whites use it behind closed doors when talking about trashy blacks they see on the evening news, President Obama, and any black kid who happens to be dating their daughter. I am angry that the word comes out in black-on-black arguments (so much for it being a term of endearment). I am angry that blacks themselves are divided on whether or not to use it (I love Russell Simmons perspective.) And Ultimately, I am angry that I have to say or type N-word.

    Like Sharon, I want it to be OK for anyone to use it. But I don’t see it as a term of endearment. Add an “A” or an “AH” and it’s still UGLY. I want it to be used in the same vein as Fuck. When I hear someone use that word, I associate low-class and trash. And like Sharon, when I hear it, I know what people are thinking.

    Dr. Laura isn’t my favorite person, and I didn’t like the way she barked at her caller. However, the context within which she used the word was rather motivating to me. Say the word, dammit. It’s five friggin letters. It is ugly, but at least I will know what you think of me. I can’t address your hatred of me and my friends and we can’t heal unless we know!

  5. Throughout history? The nation-state is a comparatively new and young idea. Multicultural empires lasted much longer. The nation-states that exist today are all multicultural at the core (as in the Angles, Saxons, Celts, Franks, Romans and others that created England). To be against diversity is to mutilate one’s self.

  6. There’s three options:

    1. Racist
    2. Anti-Racism
    3. Doesn’t buy this dichotomy

    It’s a false dichotomy. Most people would consider someone a “racist” if they oppose multiculturalism, but you can oppose multiculturalism on un-racist grounds — for example, that throughout history it has been tried and has always resulted in dissolution of nations.

    I will forever be against diversity. It’s not good for whites, blacks or anyone else. In fact, what’s good for us is to each have our own nations so that we can preserve our own cultures, and rule ourselves.

    But very few people even want to think about that.

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