by Vince Vanguard Vainglorious
For decades, Niggers, Negroes, Black People and African-Americans, have been struggling with what to call themselves, ourselves, yourselves and my self. Negro which probably makes the most sense, was rejected in order for us to name and define ourselves, rather than be named by Europeans. The word Negro best describes our peculiar reality as Africans whose most unique cultural trait is that we were displaced from our homeland by Europeans and resettled around the globe by them not by ourselves. In reality most of us here in this part of the Diaspora, at this point in time, have been shaped more by negative American cultural forces than by positive African cultural forces. Despite being essentially American, we continue to seek to identify ourselves in a culturally distinct way such as African-American, as if it’s the least we can do to keep our ancestors and the rest of the Diaspora from being ashamed of us. In reality though, although uncomfortable with the word Black or Negro most of us have very little in common with Africa, if not an outright disdain for her. Nevertheless, African-American currently holds the distinction of being displayed in front of the most check boxes on Federal forms and job applications today.
Throughout history, our attempts to name ourselves have been problematic at best. I prefer Black because it makes the strongest statement. To be honest though, identifying people by color who range from canary yellow to raven black is kind of silly. If the use of the term Black has accomplished anything, it proved that Caucasian people are silly enough to call themselves White, despite there not being a white one in the bunch. I recall when African American was introduced, there was rejoicing that we had settled the name problem once and for all. Then came along those that didn’t want to be identified with the African part and those who wanted nothing to do with the American part. What was wrong with these Niggers, I mean Negroes? By the way does anybody know where the committee meets that decides this shit?
Nevertheless as Chris Rock has alluded to, based on a myriad of cultural, political and economic influences, some of us are more or less Niggers, including the wealthy hip-hop impresarios who have muddied the etymological waters even further, by making the word something that’s okay for a fourteen year old White girl to shout at the top of her lungs while rockin' with the hype man at a rap concert. To try to justify this cultural contradiction (because God knows the last thing we should want to do in this era of the Cash Money Rights Movement is to criticize wealthy Black people) the separate and distinctly spelled terms “Nigga or Niggah” have been introduced to justify the use of the word as a term of endearment. This has been done in much the same way the titles “Be’yach and Ho” were marketed to make misogyny palatable so women would buy more records in the 90s. Sadly enough though, one of the reasons we find ourselves in such a pickle is that even our most respected scholars have been complicit throughout the years in the process of embracing Nigger Culture or Niggertude and explaining it as part of some false African cultural continuum. This has been done either because they did not understand the anthropological phenomena that truly explained certain Black cultural behavior or because they couldn’t find solutions to certain problems, so they sought to embrace or excuse the behavior. Maybe they just didn’t want to give up their own hog maws and chittlins, Friday night jump offs at the strip club and Saturday night sparring sessions with their woman, before going to praise the Lord on Sunday morning.
The entire industry of “Soul Food”, black hair care products and the majority of consumption of jewelry, car accessories and pork products by Black people is a direct inheritance of the culture of slavery. What are we really or as my homies in the hood would say “What’s really happenin’”? Are we products of our own design or the product of second class citizenship and an inferior self concept forged through adaptation to adverse conditions. Are we simply a people who’ve had to make cultural sacrifices and bargains to survive or are we just Jigaboos whose real legacy is now and always has been tellin’ jokes, sangin and gettin’ crunk?
The truest advice given by every guidance counselor and self help author to their audience is to do what you love or what you’re good at. It is often argued that the Black man can do anything that all of the other races excel at and for that matter it is a known fact that we invented the majority of the arts and the sciences. Why is it then that now even the most successful among us from Oprah Winfrey to Robert Johnson have made their marks as entertainers and entertainment promoters, not physicists and mathematicians? The real question though is rather than try to prove we can be just as good at geophysics and aeronautics would we be better off taking total control of areas like sports, entertainment and the arts? We have spent centuries apologizing for our affinities for athletics and entertaining, when if we controlled those industries it would provide enough resources to employ, house and feed us all.
Our scholars and academics, motivated mostly by shame and faced with the contradictions to their tales of Kings and Queens, have devised a canon of bad science to attempt to explain the existence of Rudy Ray Moore and African griots in the same time space continuum. They have done so for lack of the ability to find answers to our problems that provide valid explanations for our unique anthropological case study. We are displaced Africans scattered throughout the Diaspora by Europeans. This has created distinct cultural-social-economic problems, which cannot be solved easily, painlessly or without a multifarious regimen of diagnosis and rigorous curative measures. As a matter of fact, it is even theorized now that our inability to adapt to this climate and the American diet is the real culprit that predisposes us to higher levels of hypertension and other health maladies. Even after we have had centuries to adapt, just living here is a physiological threat to us. I am often reminded that even the wealthiest amongst us, such as Reginald Lewis and Johnnie Cochran, who could afford the best of medical care and had almost unlimited resources, met their natural demise at inordinately young ages. So if living here is killing us, we can’t go “back home” and White people have proven to have a history of unleashing genocide on various populations when the going gets rough, what is the answer? Is it hopeless?
Examining the benefit of embracing authentic Negritude and rejecting that which is Niggertude is one of the greatest challenges to us finding our place as a people on this planet. I always find it funny when scholars with no real anthropological basis or research just assume certain shit must have some roots in African culture and try to make up some bogus connective story to explain certain Nigger shit we should be trying to run away from - like shooting up in the air at nothing on New Years Eve. They give explanations like “Oh that goes back to the tribesmen throwing their spears in the air to celebrate the harvest.” On the other hand even the bougiest Niggas still feel something when they hear the drums and have a certain reverence for a sister with her head wrapped – that has an anthropological basis to it, that's Negritude. Is the Greek step show really the ancestor of the South African boot dance? Would the Egyptians really want the credit for hair weaves? Why haven’t the Ashanti chiefs sued Lil Jon for royalties on the Pimp Cup? Is Egypt really the place we should be trying to connect to, or is it just easier to embrace than Chad? Identifying, embracing and furthering those aspects of our culture which are edifying is the key to ensuring our continued existence as a people and empowering the entire African Diaspora.
Niggertude is the shit we can't seem to shake no matter how many Brooks Brothers suits we wear. Niggertude is borne out of the conditions we are yet to recover from after centuries of wallowing in this cesspool of racism, oppression and inequality. It is imperative that we eschew the evils of Niggertude and cease to identify these phenomena as part of our culture.
These are the real issues that nobody could seem to get to the heart of, during Bill Cosby’s recent campaign of self hatred. Although Michael Eric Dyson sought to reveal Mr. Cosby’s motivations, he offered very few solutions of his own. Cosby was mad at the Niggers ‘cus they weren’t doing their part to become African-Americans. Dyson was mad at Cosby because he realized Cosby was just saying what he was saying because he was ashamed of Niggers. However, even though Cosby hates Niggers, he pointed out many issues that needed to be examined. Despite his good intentions, Dyson had no plans to empower Black people or Niggers because he was at the core cut from the same elitist academic cloth as Cosby. Niggers were like “Why are y’all Niggas all in my business. You’n know me?” The situation did serve to shed light on the fact that educated rich Niggas can be as far from true Blackness and incapable of Black Love as the Boyz n da Hood. Neither group is building community, empowering the Diaspora or fostering healthy Black love and unity.
The dialogue that ensued (if it can be truly called a dialogue, since few people stood up to challenge the Venerable Cos) did reveal another issue that has been brewing under the surface for some time though. Black people in the “Ivory Towers” and African-Americans in the corridors of power seem to feel as besieged as Negroes on the second shift and Niggers in the trap. In this day and age everybody says that the only struggle we now face is economic - so why do people who have "made it" feel as lost as people in the ghetto? I think it's because the soul can tell when it is lost even when physical conditions are fine.
I often ask myself why homeless cats on the streets can seem happy as hell sometimes. I think maybe it's because a certain comforting freedom comes from not kissing ass, selling out and punking out everyday. On the other hand, some people with the most stuff seem to feel the most lost because they have to give the man an emotional rim job everyday just to eat. If the issue were only economics, so many of us wouldn't feel hopeless, powerless and insecure. Deep inside we desire unity and cultural connectedness but most of us can’t decide which group to unify with – the Niggers, the Negroes, the Blacks or the African-Americans. Because we tend to unify around superficial vestiges of class rather than cultural imperatives, many of us have had the experience of being unable to find common ground with anybody or have been betrayed by our own various adopted tribesmen. Once the middle class Black man or African-American gets his money stolen by his business partner or comes home and finds his golfing buddies dick in his wife’s mouth, he realizes he was dealing with a Nigger too. Niggertude doesn’t just affect the Black bourgeoisie however. Niggers are stealing old ladies checks in the ghetto. Niggers are fucking each other over for promotions at the job. Niggers have been lured into a state of paralysis reading endless lists of books about the Illuminati, and Masons and Coentelpro, while devising no stratagems to combat the effects. Lastly but not least well educated, well heeled, well connected Niggers are holding meetings somewhere deciding what else about our culture we should be ashamed of, what else we are willing to sacrifice for economic gain, and what else should be important to the rest of us Negroes.