*By now, many of you have heard the story of Sherri Shepherd’s disapproval of Barbara Walters’ use of the word ‘nigger’ while reporting on the controversial story of “Niggerhead” – a landmark stone located on the grounds of a hunting ranch used by presidential hopeful, Governor Rick Perry and his family.
His rival, Herman Cain, spoke out against Perry’s insensitivity to black people by allowing the age-old rock to remain on the property. So did the ladies of “The View.” As in standard “Chatty Cathy” fashion, Joy, Elisabeth, Barbara, Whoopi and Sherri took to the topic, voicing their boisterous opinions on the matter.
Before the ladies could discuss the heart of the issue, Whoopi agreed with Cain’s use of the unadulterated word when he discussed the incident on a recent news show. She thinks it’s a waste of time to keep saying ‘n-word’ as a politically correct replacement for the original and— cue the censor button—resigned to say ‘nigger’ in all of its vernacular glory. Barbara Walters followed with more details to the story, however, stating her difficulty in saying the word, and how it’s never used on the show (although Whoopi just did three seconds before). She racked up a few censored moments of her own as she reported on “The Rock of Niggerhead”, and again said she isn’t a fan of anyone using the word. Whoopi stood her ground that we shouldn’t pretend. The rock didn’t say “N-word”; we should call it what it is. Elisabeth Hasselback blurted out a few more particulars about the story, Joy Behar played the role of Switzerland, and the cattiness continued.
Simmadown now everybody, it’s Sherri’s turn to talk.
Not in agreement with Whoopi, Sherri admitted that she uses the word ‘nigger’ around her friends and family, but it’s “something that goes through her body” when she heard Barbara (or any white person) use it. She knows that Barbara was simply saying the word for reporting sake, but it’s because Whoopi put the -a on the end, versus Barbara’s use of the -er edition that made it acceptable.
BLANK STARE WITH MINOR BLINKING
Are you kidding me, Sherri Shepherd?!?! Did you really just say that…on national TV?!?!?!?!? You made every nappy hair on my head stand at attention! Girl, I considered you a “friend in my head” up until you let that dollop of ignorance plop out of your mouth. In one statement, you not only put your dirty laundry on display for the free world to see, but you also gave power back to one of the most toxic words in the English language.
Do I use the word ‘nigga’ from time to time? Yup. Am I proud of it? Nope. Most of the time, it has been said in anger, and right or wrong, my thoughts align with the Chris Rock “Niggas vs. Black People” rules of conduct. As Rock so eloquently stated in his 1996 “Bring the Pain” routine, we all know there are certain black people that have ‘nigga’ tendencies, making a large chunk of the African-American sector look bad. Love my people, hate some of their behavior. That being said, who am I to toss them under the proverbial bus? The same proverbial bus, mind you, that was created, owned and operated by white people. They laid the deprecating foundation in a term that initially meant ‘stupid’, we didn’t. So some of us have brainwashed ourselves into thinking if we replace two letters with a single vowel, it will become a term of endearment amongst our own. A single letter does not, nor will it ever, diminish all of the hurt, pain and anguish our ancestors have DIED for; the same ancestors that provided you an opportunity to sit on an Emmy-award winning program.
Secondly, last time I checked, Barbara Walters was reporting nothing but the facts. How could her words be taken out of context when she was simply recounting the truth for a news story? The rock didn’t say “N-word Head”, it said “Niggerhead.” How is one in that position supposed to relay the severity of the story if they bowdlerize it? Besides, let us not forget that as gross as it is, ‘nigger’ is in the dictionary; it’s fair game. As long as it’s being used in the professional matter-of-fact fashion that it was, no negative connotation should be presumed regardless of how much melanin one has in their skin. Liken this to a woman getting upset because a male recounted the story of the bitch that won last year’s Westminster Kennel Club award and you’ll see the madness of Shepherd’s perspective.
Bottom line, Sherri Shepherd, not only were you wrong, you clearly have been smoking that hypocritical heroin. You peeled back one of your wigs and showed your ignorance; once again setting us ten miles back in this marathon of race relations. If I wasn’t a changed woman, I would call YOU the ‘n-word’.
Tanya Tatum is the creator of “The Tatum Talks” an open forum on Facebook . She is also a radio talk show host, co-hosting weekends on “Live in the Vocal Booth” on www.bks1radio.com. Feel free to email her at [email protected].