Just when I thought I had covered all the angles of the “N” word, my son came back with another. I had only left the table at the restaurant for only five minutes, but when I came back, my son wanted to leave.
“He said…wait” he stopped as someone walked in the door and within hearing distance, then continued in a whisper. “I feel uncomfortable. He said the ‘N’ word,” Dillon said, indicated the young black man, sitting with three black friends at the table next to us. “Why did he say that?”
While there are heavy debates within the African-American community as to whether it’s okay for blacks to use the word (some say it’s internalized low self-esteem, others say it’s the only word to make a point, others say it’s a benign address of affection), as an “outsider” e.g. non-person-of-color, I don’t feel in a position to pass a commentary. But I do stand by the fact that there’s no way ever a white person can use the word in a casual way.
To draw the parallel, it’s kind of like people who are Jewish who sometimes make fun of some of our own characteristics. I’ve often quoted “Jewish as a Second Language” by Molly Katz, during animated conversations with my non-Jewish husband. To paraphrase, “by now you’ve had plenty of time to finish your sentences. If no one is interrupting you, what you’re saying is boring.” But let someone else ask me the ‘origin’ of my last name (code to find out if you are Jewish) and judge me accordingly, and my ire goes up.
So while the Twittelah clip is benign, I wonder if ‘non-Jews’ will find it funny. My mom totally would print out my Tweets and hang them on the wall. What does it tell you about “in-group” and “out of group” humor? Is it okay, even bonding to make fun of your own group? How does it feel if someone else says the same thing?