Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dr. Laura's N-word Outburst Helping Race Relations

Believe it or not, Dr. Laura's insensitive repetition of the word nigger is actually helping race relations. Talking about racism is always good, overcoming it with humour is even better, and Laura Schlessinger just provided a lot of material to that end.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger on her national radio program a few weeks ago spoke to a black woman who wanted advice on how to handle racist slurs from her white husband's friends, in particular the n-word.

Schlessinger responded by suggesting the woman was hypersensitive citing that black comedians are always saying, "nigger, nigger, nigger." The stunned caller listened as Dr. Laura went on to say the slur another eight times. Other comments were made by the Dr. Laura that only go further to demonstrate her ignorance and poor judgement.

Media instantly began reporting on the exchange and public anger mounted over Dr. Laura's insensitivity. As a consequence of the backlash against her, the Doctor quit her radio program in an act of protest, claiming radio does not allow her to exercise her right to free speech.

Though a lot of people are offended and a national syndicated talk show is off the air, there is some good that is coming out of this, and that good is healing.

Because of how bad of an occurrence this was, people are talking about Dr. Laura and her rant, people like Jon Stewart are making fun of her, and in the process the n-word is gradually losing its power.

Last night, on the popular Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Stewart referenced Dr. Laura's outburst and in one of the few times if not the first time, on a widely viewed and pervasive program, a white person used the n-word in a comedic display.

The word was not used as a butt of a joke, but instead thanks to Dr. Laura it was brought into the periphery of Jon Stewart's humour, and no matter how indirect or weak of a relation, the association between the n-word and satire was created. The word still retaining it's most cruel connotations through comedy had that power ever so slightly lessened, and that has to be a good thing.

The n-word brings up the worst period in history and also brings up the worst in mankind. Where one race of people treated another as if they were material goods, just property. We have overcome the physical enslavement; the remnants however continue to exist, manifesting their power almost entirely trough this one word. We cannot and must not forget the horrible history of slavery and the presence of racism, however the power in which this awful word has can be and should be lessened.

No word should have the power to enslave, so why do we keep allowing the word nigger to?

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