barf: I don't think you need a racial slur in order to effectively communicate. You make it sound like not being able to use racial slurs creates barriers that prevent us from being a community. Like, "not being able to call this woman a 'bitch' even though she and her friends call each other that makes me feel like we cannot communicate." There happen to be about a million other words you could use.
Also, I question the notion that someone using a racial slur is doing so out of respect and cultural admiration. If someone really respected a certain culture, he/she would respect the boundaries of that culture, and learn how to participate without offending the very culture he/she purports to admire. Feel free to listen to whatever music you want to listen to, dance however you want to dance, read whatever you want to read, pray to whichever god/gods you want to pray to — but use a word that reinforces and recalls the systematic oppression of your race over another, and you're going to get blowback. We don't live in a vacuum. There is a long history behind the use of that word, a history that is still real and alive today.
Finally, as a colleague pointed out earlier today, this word is not some ancient relic. There are people still alive who had this insult hurled at them with the force of water hoses and dogs and lynchings to back it up. If that oppressed group wants to then take that word and reappropriate it as a symbol of power, that is that group's prerogative. Whining about "not being allowed" to use those words sounds like an unwillingness to take full stock of your privilege and an unwillingness to accept being told "No."
"Meanwhile, African Americans are free to employ its use no matter what the underlying message might be (positive, negative or neutral)."
Yep, they are. It's not always easy, but sometimes, as Caucasians, we have to come to terms with the fact that there are limits to what we can say or do because of things beyond our control (the weight of history and whatnot.) Not having the green light to use a racial slur — in whatever context — is a small price to pay for generations of cultural and political hegemony from which we still reap the benefits. White privilege is real, and so are the limits of our freedom to walk in and out of other cultures, assuming them and casting them off as we please.
Might I point out that the author of this blog is perfectly capable of sampling her own pickled eggs? And yet no one is forcing her to choke down a beet-flavored pickled ovum. Why? Because this is America, where if you don't want to eat a pickled egg, you don't have to. In conclusion, God bless America.
whoa @snakeman. way harsh, tai.
Good question, Tom. Currently Shelby County employees must go through the federal Department of Labor office to handle wage theft claims. Because Tennessee does not have its own minimum-wage law, the county defers to the federal minimum-wage law and relies on federal investigators to take on minimum-wage and overtime violations in Shelby County. As there are only two Department of Labor investigators for all of West Tennessee, many wage theft victims and activists have found that the DOL doesn't have the resources or staff to handle the magnitude of wage theft claims in the county. Check out the cover story "Payback" for more background info.
@Elizabeth while I agree that Heritage BBQ is not for everyone, and $500 is cost-prohibitive for many people (myself included), there were individual events ticketed at just $20. $500 was the price of a VIP weekend pass, which included every event. And it was never billed as a fund-raising event.
Thanks, Beth — we'll fix it!
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