Ignorance Makes the N-Word Even Scarier Unspoken

27 06 2008

Read it and weep.

George Carlin’s seven aren’t the only words so scary we’re taught to officially pretend they don’t exist.
(Here are seven interesting words in coverage of his passing last week: “He was educated by priests and nuns. . .”)

And my shocking blog news today is sadly neither shocking nor even really news; I’ve blogged N-word ignorance before, how our own history revealed in language — in this one reductionist noun particularly — now scares us so much that even in historically “true” fiction on stage and screen, we’d rather rewrite it or just cancel it, than face it honestly and explain it to our children so THEY can understand.

Well, I’ll tell you what scares ME.

“You take that word out of this story and you invalidate my history as an African-American male,” said Perry.

“Do I like the word? No. But to pretend nobody said it is wrong. I wouldn’t even consider doing that,” Perry said. “Context is everything, and it’s not gratuitous, it’s not for shock value.

“How can we learn about our present if we don’t educate people about what happened in our past?”

We did this show here four summers ago.

With Every Single Word and Note. It was stunning, rocked my world and this whole community, nothing short of heart- and record-breaking. I saw it five times, laughed and cried and wrung myself inside out every time. Smash sell-out, universally acclaimed, lines around the building (in the Florida summer sun!) just hoping for standing room at the matinee, people still talk about it!

“I’m just terribly saddened . . .for this to happen in this manner, it’s just disappointing.
I guess the best way to say it is it really reflects the times we’re living in, in relevance to the show, and I think still the work that needs to be done on a lot of levels.”

Forget evolution, Ken Ham’s Creation Museum and the public school science teacher burning crosses into eighth-graders’ flesh for Christmas. Ignorance isn’t just about failing to master the rigors of science and math; ignorance in the liberal arts and humanities might be even more dangerous.

And what I am furious about today isn’t even about school kids and their stupid parents, teachers or principals. This news is about The Racially and Rationally Challenged Real World, out in grown-up free America where all the scary ideas and words and human differences are right there on every street corner and no one is in control of the script.

Dickens (not Darwin) wrote that between Ignorance and Want, Ignorance was more likely to doom mankind. The reason I happen to know and appreciate the true nature of his fanciful fiction isn’t because of science or math but because I am literary, and I mean to use the precise word literary, and not merely literate much less merely [shudder!] literal. Read the rest of this entry »

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