Black rappers and street kids: here is your polite company lesson from Leonard Pitts Jr. Pitts, a syndicated columnist with the Miami Herald, recently branded Dr. Laura Schlessinger in his column, with other conservative commentators, as insensitive to the black race and racial issues.
Black rappers and street kids: here is your polite company lesson from Leonard Pitts Jr. Pitts, a syndicated columnist with the Miami Herald, recently branded Dr. Laura Schlessinger in his column, with other conservative commentators, as insensitive to the black race and racial issues. Schlessinger recently went on a “tirade” during her call-in radio show, using the n-word while talking to a black woman who called her show.
Pitts says the n-word is not generally used in polite company, although it is used by blacks to describe people of their own race. He may be used to polite company; most black rappers are probably not, or don’t care.
While Dr. Laura is certainly conservative in her take of family and relational issues, she is also not afraid of talking cultural issues, whether white or black. She obviously is aware of the stage behavior of black comics.
But if Pitts has reason to complain about Dr. Laura, why not complain about black comics and musicians, who glorify violence and criminal, thug-like behavior? Why not attempt to institute his polite company standard for other blacks? Probably because Pitts is a black syndicated columnist who is liberal. As such, it is easier for him to criticize a conservative like Dr. Laura. Taking a stand against bad behavior would mean becoming a target of other liberals. And that would not be fun.
Pitts reasoning is truthful in one aspect; comics say and do all sorts of obnoxious things. So do black rappers and street kids. If fact, if there is an ideal in much of black rap music, it’s not to be polite. That suggestion would probably make for some good comedy material for vulgar black or white comics. Pitts’ “stars and garters” comment in his column could be useful as well. In fact, Pitts polite company is probably the “dark side of the moon” for many black rappers, who spew hate. Pitts’ reluctance to criticize rude rappers and street kids is understandable. In doing so, he would become like Dr. Laura and a handful of other blacks who attempt to reform the culture and black behavior, like Bill Cosby, Spike Lee and Sidney Poitier. Those who expect something better, greater of their race.
Pitts seems to think that blacks are entitled to use the word. Yet, it’s hard to see how the history of the word would entitle a black man or woman to use it against a person of his or her own race? It describes one of the more deplorable periods in our nation’s history. Why entitle someone - white or black - to reuse the word as though it did not? We already know that the n-word isn’t used in polite company. The question is whether black rappers and street kids will pay any attention to Pitts’ polite company lesson.
© 2010 Larry Ingram
Based in St Louis,
Larry Ingram writes about the news media, movies and culture, as well as on topics like race, privilege, Christianity, religious expression and tolerance.
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