By Shawna Collier
September 11, 2001 was a black day in America. Bad students get black marks beside their names. Black, defined in the dictionary: evil, wicked, depressing, cheerless.
I am black. And no one seems to care. At a recent dinner party I attended, the host told a hilarious story about her brother that had everyone in stitches. But toward the end, as casually as if she was saying her dog peed on the picnic basket, she mentioned that her brother had always been the black sheep of the family. Everyone at the table laughed. Except me. I felt as if I’d been slapped.
You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but to hear the party hostess use the word ‘black’ in such a derogatory way, was incredibly hurtful. It was as if I was so much less of a person than her that she didn’t notice my own blackness, so she felt free to use that word in such a terrible way. They’re using a word that describes me to my very core to say something is no good or stupid, and it hurts. It really does. It’s like saying black is bad. That’s not cool. So stop it. Stop it America.
Yes, I recognize that the party hostess isn’t the problem. It’s mostly just ignorant people who don’t know what they’re doing. And truthfully, society seems to encourage this dehumanizing usage. Black mood, black heart, blackmail, black cats. It goes on and on—and I have had enough. I grew so fed up with entertainers saying they’d been blacklisted, that the last time it happened, I raised a ruckus, and Colin Farrell was fined $150,000. The NAACP, the Urban League, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Congressional Black Caucus, have all joined my crusade, demanding apologies. Luckily, the liberal media has picked up the battle, understanding that using ‘black’ in these demeaning terms is wrong, especially when blacks still face so much prejudice and economic injustice.
Trust me, there is not a molehill out there that I can’t turn into a mountain. From now on, I’m going to go after anyone who uses ‘black’ in a way that upsets me. If I hear ‘black comedy,’ there better be a Tyler Perry film playing nearby. ‘Black market’? A store in Bed-Stuy. ‘Blackmail’ had better be a Mahogany card from Mom.
If I can change attitudes, if people will only use the word as I see fit and not willy-nilly, then I will be ecstatic, beside myself, overjoyed and, um, what’s that other word? Oh yes: gay.
© 2011 The Peoples News