I’ve written hundreds of columns over the years but never about the N-Word. It is a term that makes my temperature rise and my skin boil. First of all, we should not be having this open discussion or debate. But the N-Word won’t go away, primarily because too many of us Blacks-African Americans-Negroes-Colored-whichever one you chose to identify with refuse to leave that term alone. Instead, we have taken ownership of that word.
When I was a small child growing up in Chicago, I trusted my parents because they loved me; they brought me into this world and taught me the difference between what’s right and what’s wrong. My parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert and Sally Fitzgerald, were both born in Natchez, Mississippi. They moved to Chicago because they believed it was a better place. They use to tell me about the Klu Klux Klan and the Confederate flag and the times they were going to school and got spat on and called the N-Word.
In the early 1960s, we as a people were trying to decide who we were. Fighting for identity, we identified as being either Colored, Black or Negro — the term African American was not even a consideration back then. I learned as a child that the N-Word was a very bad word: It was used as a verbal assault, and it meant hatred if someone ever called you that N-Word. Somewhere between the assassinations of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Bobby Kennedy and the present time, we have truly forgotten what that word means.
If you have seen the movie Mississippi Burning — and any number of films about our struggle for civil and human rights — you have heard that vulgar terrible word used. Now our hip hop generation of musical artists and comedians use it. Some of our athletes use it, and those that use it have no problem in using it.
I do have a problem with it. I always have, and it’s about time we wise up as a group of people and eliminate the use of the term with each other first and start educating ourselves and stop settling.
Last year, the Miami Dolphins football team had a well-documented issue between teammates that led to suspensions. Later a general manager and several coaches were fired. Afterward, the NFL conducted an investigation, and the N-Word was a major part of what blew up that locker room. Now the NFL next season on the suggestions of the Fritz Pollard Alliance may penalize players and coaches 15 yards if the N-Word is used on the field.
Enough is enough. We as Black people have to agree to stop using it and supporting it. It makes no sense at all to me why so many of us don’t get it.
I suggest those of you who are convinced that you have to call each other the N-Word go watch 12 years a Slave, a Black-produced-and-directed film that won the 2013 Oscar for Best Picture, or 42, the Jackie Robinson biographical film (after all, baseball season is coming), or The Butler (after all, the president was here in Minnesota last week).
Now if you watch those films from start to finish and afterward you want to continue to use the N-Word amongst yourselves, then you are a fool and you can’t be helped. All this is because of people like you and the athletes and artists and comedians who exploit your support of what they do. Look in the mirror, and you will see no one.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.enough. We as Black people have to agree to stop using the N-Word and supporting it. It makes no sense at all to me why so many of us don’t get it.