This is a series of posts between Mr. Wise and myself on the words slave, nigger and race. Read it and see if you can find the inconsistencies and also just how blinding the lack of understanding of how language works can be even to a so called expert.

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Post #4
Al Lewis
on September 12, 2009 at 9:14am
For some of us in the trenches racism has a much different connotation. I think it's geared more towards xenophobia than racism because in fact race as it has been defined in popular culture is a misnomer and if that is not addressed in a logical manner everyone will stay caught up in the thick of thin things, as in the melanin content of the veneer of my skin.

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Post #5
Al Lewis
on September 26, 2009 at 11:47pm
Nowadays, people say the word nigger is one of the most heinous in the English language, but I beg to differ. The word has no etymology and in fact, is meaningless. It becomes offensive to people only because they give credence to other people's definitions a very dangerous and unwise thing to do if you are about knowing.

However, there is a word that is highly offensive to thinking people, especially thinking people of color. It is an insidious word used by well meaning people, especially well meaning so called white people. That word is slave.

On first glance one would guess people to suppose it to be an innocuous word, but upon deeper inspection one finds that it is loaded with inferences of inferiority and places a person in a position to sanction their own inferiority if they believe that about themselves. Of corse it doesn’t help and in fact adds to their struggle when history books, text books, and well meaning lecturers support this notion, albeit most do not know any different. One of the definitions and usually the first one implies “one who SUBMITS to a master or a condition.” However, even Mr. Wise admits free people were kidnapped from Africa. How then did they become slaves?

It would appear that if they were kidnaped and taken against their will they were prisoners. You see the word slave actually is a mispronunciation of the word slav, people from eastern Europe who after being defeated numerous times became associated with defeat and submission. If one would notice their complexion and condition was and is much different from African people written and spoken about relative to this issue of slaves.

How then is it when the word slave is invoked so called black people see pictures of themselves? Why is the word used almost exclusively to describe black people from the south during a certain era?

In fact if one does the etymological and epistemological research one will deduce quickly that the words subject, servant, indentured or otherwise, serf, yeomen, villager and peon all in fact come back to the word slave.

Why is it then that the great majority of history books and experts still refer to so called black people as slaves, while outlining so called white people almost exclusively in a better light, indentured servants? One can conclude logically that if one signed themselves into servitude, that signing was by agreement and therefore constitutes willful submission. By the accepted definitions of most dictionaries definition's, that is proof positive of who were slaves.

For one to ignore those vital contextual nuances is an omission of truth, it would appear. Again, while this is no ad it would be wise to visit www.redpilltraining.ning.c

om where these thoughts originated. Perhaps we can help you Mr. Wise?
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Post #6
Tim Wise wrote
35 minutes ago
I agree that the term slave is troubled...I try and use "enslaved" when discussing the matter because it places the action component and onus of blame on those who did the kidnapping and oppression, rather than implying the inherent "slavishness" of a people...

I disagree about your argument re: the n-word however. The fact that the etymology is as you say (if it is, I really don't know honestly), doesn;'t mean that it is meaningless or has no power. Words become invested with power because of social forces. I mean, race itself is socially constructed, yet it has real meaning because the powerful use it as a arbiter of opportunity. The n-word has power because it has been the linguistic cornerstone of oppression. It typically precedes behavior that is racist and hateful, or exists alongside it. To imply that it can be ignored, or as some claim, "reclaimed" for instance, ignores that so long as symbols are still being used in the traditional way and for the traditional purpose, reclamation is extremely difficult. I mean, the history of the swastika is benign too, but try reclaiming that, or suggesting that it has no power or meaning unless we give it power or meaning. That ends up being a nice academic point, but not practically easy to do. Same thing with the confederate flag, etc...on the other hand, symbols and memes that have been relinquished by those who once used them for oppression, can often be reclaimed: like the pink triangle by the LGBT liberation struggle...the Nazis used it as a marker of inferiority for LGBT folks, but since it was no longer used for that purpose, the movement could pick it up and use it for their own purposes...

Post #7
Tim Wise wrote
20 minutes ago
I guess what I'm saying is that no word has power in and of itself. Words only have power and the ability to injure because of the meaning we give them. But I don't see how that matters much. They still can wound, irrespective of whether the wound comes from their inherent meaning or meaning derived from social practice and forces...

Al Lewis - Mr. Wise, no argument of the etymology of the word nigger, that is fact, it has none. The assumption is that I am supposed to have a reaction because someone else defines (limits) a word (nigger) to be something derogatory about me. That then gives the definer an awful lot of power over me. That's exactly what I was alluding to. That is the power of the construct we live in. I can understand how you would think it doesn't matter. Like it or not you are a part of that construct that labels and defines what it chooses and in the matter of race it is based purely on a fabrication, an error, a non-scientific hypothetical, yet experts treat it as if it is fact.

The word define literally means to outline, to limit. Why on earth would a thinking person allow someone else to define who they are or who they are not? I

Would not a wise person expose the errors first? Instead, what most people do is to build on the lie that race exists in the first place. As long as that happens, no matter how one tries to avoid it, any discussion on race predicated on skin color will automatically place so called black people in the position of inferiority because that's how it was DEFINED in the first place.

One only needs to research Johann Blumenbach to prove this. Once completed, you will see we have been operating on a false premise. Now, to continue to promote that erroneous assumption under a new banner of anti-racism is still harmful because it does not promote truth and only the truth will set you free. Respectfully, don't you think the fact that this all predicated on a lie deserves honorable mention in some lecture, some discussion on some program?

I wonder what the consequences would be if they no longer taught so called black children in school they were not the descendants of slaves, that race is a false construct, and the science of knowing how to define and think for themselves?

In Derrick Jensen's book, "The Culture of Make Believe", he points out how when people allow others to define for them they become powerless people. Well, isn't that what we are talking about power verses powerlessness?

I have been a so called black person for 55 years. Trust me, being from Memphis, TN, I know a little something about the word nigger. It is defined as a whole lot of things based on its intonation, inflection, and intent. However, only I can define it to mean something derogatory. You see you are what you answer to.

Thank you for responding and I might mention you have undertaken a powerful mission. Please be aware that none of us are immune to the power of language and of what it is capable of projecting especially if we have not uncovered its real meaning. I didn't mean for this to turn to debate. I simply wanted to point out something, a vital contextual nuance, that may help you.


Al Lewis
This was a very interesting dialogue. I concur that the term "nigger" is assigned tremendous power. It is amazing to observe the emotions it ignites in some. I personally am not offended by the use of the word....just as if someone was to refer to me as bit.h..etc...I know that I am neither of the two; therefore, it stirs no particular emotion within me.

Also very insightful discussion about the term slave. The notion that a word can conjure an image in one's head is very powerful and so true.

I have taken theory construction classes that involved creation of meanings to various concepts. That being said... one can assign meaning and power to anything that they want to. It does not have to be universally accepted nor agreed upon, but it is the creator's foundation upon which to build arguement...we have the freedom to "believe" what we want about anything we so desire...
Great discussion
Wouldn't it be equally powerful to have the ability to construct a filter to keep the meanings attached to those concepts out? That is what critical and analytical thinking allows one to do. The best way to accomplish that is to understand language and how language works. That is what I tried to covey Tim, however he is deeply invested in being right. In fact his investiture serves the very concepts and construct he claims to want to debunk.

He doesn't know that, however not knowing an electrical cable is "hot" doesn't mean it won't shock you.

As to the word nigger being assigned power something to really consider is who assigned it power? What gives them the power to make an assignment of value about how I should feel and react to a word that has no meaning? So if I were to react to their assignment would I not be ceding my power to them to define for me who and what I am?

If one is so myopic they can see no one else's point of view how on earth can they make informed decisions of what is real? The fish are the last ones to discover water. The real student never forms conclusions, but looks for meaning even deeper at the evidence they have uncovered.
All, can we bottom line this??? Are we saying that we should have no reaction to these words? Or are we saying that we should not use them? Would we be unconcerned if Barack Obama said "N***a Please" or if John McCain said "N***a Please"? In the grand scheme of things isn't this conversation rather pointless? What I'm saying is that regardless of the etymology of these words, I am aware of the current day impact of their usage across the cultural landscapes and if I want to be a voice of reason and an arbitrator of union and resolution than I chose to NOT make these words a part of my exhortations & arbitrations.
Barry. I am saying informed and thinking people have free choice. As to what RE-action one has that is entirely up to them. I am saying I don't give a damn about the word nigger period and I don't give a damn if Barrack uses it or if McCain uses it that has nothing to do with the conversation. I do care that they are teaching children relative to me that they are the descendants of slaves and that was my point. As to all being pointless, well that is a matter of opinion and.....

What are your thoughts someone's intent when they say nigger? For example, for the most part, I know when someone is being insulting or patronizing towards me. It's not so much what they say, but how they say it and I make a judgement about their intent. By me making a judgement about their intent, then I know how better to protect myself from this person, their possible actions and if I need protection at all.

I think this is where some people are perhaps getting confused about the entire "nigger/nigga" debate. If a so-called white person calls me nigger, then since I am doing the work (both etymological and emotional) then I may not be offended based on the historical images that I was once taught the word represented because now I know better. However, I still may be wondering what was their motive or intent behind calling me that, and may be wondering do I now need to bear arms because of how THEY see the word and the historical images in brings up in their minds.

In other words, do some people fear the possible actions someone may take who has addressed them as a nigger, especially in the day in age, since the word is becoming taboo.
Even if someone's intent behind using the word nigger is to be offensive, isn't it still left to the individual not to take that on? Isn't that the point? To not be defined by anyone other than you and to and to pass on to those relative that they aren't slaves or anything else they want not to be?
Deneka, you deserve a cigar. You see in a real way it is those that take offense and try to repress its usage that actually give it power. How? Well if your enemy knows they can offend you by invoking a word does not that point out a weakness on your part, by that I mean your predictability in taking offense at someone else's definition of what you are. That is absolutely stupid in the real sense of the word.

I think the genius on the younger people's part was to take the sting out of the word, to actually render it meaningless. Now your Negroes are still stuck back when it meant something to THEM! They had to have thought of themselves as such in order to take offense in the first place. I'm with Mr. Paul Mooney and Dick Gregory, it's just a word and I'll say it as I please.

However, still lurking is the real culprit. While many so called black people got over the word nigger decades ago, our educational institutions, our civil rights leaders, our politicians, our preachers, our mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers still promote the thought that so called black people are the descendants of slaves. Well, if that be the case then you are still a slave, in fact less than a slave, if that is possible, based on the language they use to describe their ancestors and inadvertently themselves.
Dee, you are right on target in that it is based on intent. That intent is not what the word means, it has no meaning, and my internal filters blocks the intended message if it has anything negative about my beingness attached. I just don't see myself that way, no matter who says it. However, the context it used, based on the intonation, inflection, passion and convection transmitted can in some cases call up feelings of danger. And you can do that with almost any word.

I have many people close to me who will call me a nigger and based on those same terms I can discern what thoughts they are transmitting and yes some of those are so called white people. However depending or certain factors and how even they use the word it can lead to confrontation.
Al, I'm with you in the understanding of RE-actions to "a thing" being "a choice" and with predictability & control. For me, there is still someting underlying as to why young people have attached themselves to this word.
Barry, there may be a multiplicity of reasons why young people use it from it was passed down to them to latently they think poorly of themselves to they wanted to flip the script, to it's just another word, to they want to be offensive. My point being just as there no monolithic "so called black people" there is no universal definition of or reason for using the word nigger.

Try this and it can be a tricky thought. Wise is adamant that the word nigger is offensive and disregards the notion that young people of color have re-defined the word to mean something otherwise. What he doesn't appear to realize is that by taking that position he is actually saying they don't have the right or power to define for themselves. In fact Mr. Wise is sanctioning the very construct he claims to want to call out.

You see if so called white people have the power to define a word that has no clear origin and attach a value to that word what Mr. Wise has done is to say so called black cannot do this simply because he says so. What he is implying perhaps even unknowingly is so called black cannot think for themselves, that only so called white people can do that. That's evil by all definitions of the word.
However, this is still a distraction about what this conversation is really about. It's about power, the power of language to transmit thought and how thought can then become one’s reality. Reality has a way of shifting for various reasons and most especially when one's survival imperative is engaged.

Here is a supposition to ponder. Let's say Mr. Wise agreed to come to Memphis for a Red Pill training and say after the training he and I went for a ride through Memphis where I showed him some of my old haunts and was sharing with him the power of relativity when it comes to the word nigger or nigga.

Say I took Mr. Wise up on the corner of Dunlap and Mosby, called by its resident's "Bucktown", but better known, especially by the Memphis Police Department, as "The Killing Floor" for the prolific amount of murders that occur there annually. By the way I was born one block from the killing floor and my Uncles and their friends were some of the kingpins there.

So say we pull up and there is a moderate crowd of young home boys kicking it on the empty lot drinking wine, and smoking blunts. Say I get out of my car to go to the store to get a couple of cold drinks, but basically I want Mr. Wise to hear the local vernacular to get a feel for the intonation and inflection of how the word nigga is used. Imagine, if you would, as I come out of the store I see Mr. Wise out of the car about to get jacked by the home boys who did not see me when I pulled up.

Now the homies don't care so much that Tim is a so called white person, but are much more interested in if he is a snitch or has any valuables. There are yelling at him, "Where dat money at nigga? Nigga who is you anyway?" I think it would be safe to say that Tim would probably be a little afraid and a little offended because the intonation of how they are using the word nigga has menace in it and is tinged with ill intent.

One homeboy known as Blue, a very dangerous fellow for real, but who happens to be my daughter’s cousin, pulls out a gat, atht’s a psitol, cocks it puts it to Tim’s head and says to Tim, "Drop it off nigga!" Notice they never say honkie, or peckerwood or cracker or even white boy, all derogatory terms so called black people call so called white people down south, they continue to refer to him as nigga.

Is this confusing or what? I bet you Tim would be confused also and would probably be scared shitless. I also bet you the word nigga or what it Tim defines it as would would be lost in the mix not be at the top of his priority list except when he detects the menace is getting more menacing.

So I come out of the store and cross the street and observe what is happening. I say to Blue, who is about to bust a hollow point in Tim to, “Hold off dog, that nigga is with me", to which Blue replies, "This yo nigga?" and I say "Yeah man that's my nigga." Blue then relaxes, dusts Tim off and tells him next time let a brother know who he's representing cause he was about to get his ass shot off. He says to Tim, "No harm meant my nigga it was just business."

I wonder if Mr. Wise would think the word nigga was a derogatory term after that incident or would he realize that sometimes "my nigga" can be music to one's ears? You see suddenly the power of definition shifts. It aint no fun when the rabbit got the gun. It all relative.


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