While I was amazed by all of the hullabaloo surrounding Ms. Dean’s admission of using the “N” word, I am not shocked.
When I began reading her biography seven years ago, there was something that was not being addressed. It was clear that she had a very complicated relationship with the black community and those that were in her service.
Many folks want to punish her.
As a nation, we want to believe that we’ve come so far and yet when we hear young teenagers, irrespective of their color, refer to each other using Dean “speak” we never stop it nor question it.
Ms. Dean used the term and was fired.
Black kids use it and get record deals by the same conglomerates that own a stake in the Dean empire.
We won’t allow an old white lady to say it and feel justified in calling her a racist and yet when we refer to each other using the same handle we(black folks)call it love.
As the great Dr. Angelou stated : words have power and this particular word was created to demean and dehumanize.
Ms. Dean may or may not be a racist (a person can practice certain thinking and behavior, be influenced by certain behavior and still have the option of practicing some serious self awareness that leads to change).
As a culture steeped in white supremacy and privilege, we have missed another opportunity to have a serious look and conduct some serious conversations about racism in this country.
Here is an opportunity to discuss why we (black folk), in the opinion of Dr. Bill Cosby,have moved from : Black is beautiful to n***a please.
For our white allies, this presents the challenge of looking at their racism (courageously)and the ways they gain benefit from it.
When the fear of being labelled a racist is eliminated, a real conversation around race and its effects can take place.
When we allow Ms. Dean to be the poster child for our guilt and gullibility regarding rewards and punishment, we simply allow racism to go unchallenged and thinking to stop.
While everyone jumped on 30 year old remarks, there is no organized, results oriented outrage when our young black males are murdered, records are released peppered with the dreaded “n” word and dark bodies are slaughtered globally.
We should all look at the timing and media frenzy this disclosure allowed.