All Fun & Games Till “N****R” Slips Out…
Last week Dr. Laura Schlessinger caused a media frenzy when she responded, unfiltered, to a Black female caller voicing frustrations with her white husband and his friend’s use of the N- word. Now, In no way do I support Dr. Laura’s idiotic decision to repeat “nigger” on-air eleven times, but the term is not what flagged her as a racist. There were several comments hurled during the call that infer Dr. Laura skipped necessary racial sensitivity courses:
“‘Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO and listen to a black comic, and all you hear is n****r, n****r, n****r. I don’t get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it’s a horrible thing. But when black people say it, it’s affectionate. It’s very confusing.”
“Without giving much thought, a lot of blacks voted for Obama simply because he was half black…It was a black thing.”
“Don’t take things out of context. Don’t NAACP me.”
“We’ve got a black man as president and we’ve got more complaining about racism than ever. I think that’s hilarious
“If you’re that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry outside of your race.”
Comments have since been dissected throughout the internet all week so I need not point out the obvious.
Dr. Laura has since apologized on her website (well DUH) but damage was done. While her verbal diarrhea was shocking it in no way was surprising. Dr. Laura’s sentiments and smug undertone were clear examples of the racism the caller attempted to describe. With little empathy for the caller (or any Black person/minority anywhere), Dr. Laura opened a Pandora’s Box of insensitive racial epithets, unearthing closeted (and not so closeted) feelings about Blacks and racial tensions in general. In other words, the frank nature of her response is probably echoed at dinner tables and private conversations across the nation.
Racism is a legitimate, serious and ever-present issue in America yet rarely is it candidly discussed. Which leads to a major concern and question, even in interracial relationships, how can race not be an issue?? Be it through family members, friends, co-workers or the unspoken tension in the relationship, racism always creeps up, like Student Loan payment reminders. Incessant and irritating, someone will remind you at the most inopportune time-or not-that racism is alive and well. There may never be an escape from the awkward feelings of offense when someone makes a racist comment, stares uncomfortably for too long or cracks the ever-popular racist joke. So in interracial relationships how do you tip toe around the obvious landmines? Will a white man/woman ever truly understand the unique struggles, history, or day-to-day hurdles of a Black person living in a (delusional) post-racial America? Surely love will allow one to empathize, but how do you truly come to an understanding? An understanding so deep that would silence the nay-sayers, defend against the offensive and prevent breakdowns and public calls to a conservative and opinionated Dr. Laura?
The caller’s concern with racial offense in-spite of being married to a white man, is surely not exclusive to their interracial union. I’ll bet thousands of couples experience instances similar to this instance. While I have yet to date outside of my race, I simply prefer and remain attracted to Black males, I have often considered. Considered flirting with white privilege via a white lover and experiencing “Something New.” However, I pause because I can not fathom dealing with the common Freudian slips or defending a romantic relationship to anyone else’s ignorance/discrimination (Dr. Laura) based on race. Call me “hypersensitive,” though I believe it’s more about my personal attitude towards racist ideology. The bottom line is that racism is just as prevalent as ever, and public embarrassments like Dr. Laura’s meltdown are highly offensive but allow for truthful discussions about feelings on race issues in America. Her rant and use of the “N-word” can serve as a catalyst for honest conversations about race in America that are long overdue, even amongst interracial couples.