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Joe Clair’s N***afied

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“I come from N***a culture. I say that because every hero I have ever had was called a n***a at some point in their lives!”

My father, the other day.

I have a comedian friend named James Hannah who has a line of jokes that center on the fact that there are way more n***as than black folks in America today. He points out that we should recognize we are in a state of crisis when we openly and knowingly hail and accept a pimp named Bishop and a pastor named Dollar. Now although that is Creflo’s real last name isn’t it ironic that he sits in the middle of an empire built on the idea that GOD wants us prosperous. Isn’t it also ironic that Don Juan, once the scourge of America, has turned himself into a business, pimped himself if you will, and has reached television, music, videos and even ringtones. My editorial is not about this directly but it relates in a round-a-bout way.

As I sit at my computer and add my two cents to all the blah, blah, blah about this and that in black America, I can’t help but wonder when we became so n***afied. As a child I was taught by most adults to be a proud upstanding African American and to do away with my ‘lil n***a ways, which I took to mean that I was already n***afied. That’s a term I picked up somewhere that I love to use daily, because it seems to sum up what is going on in popular black culture. N***afied. Feels accurate doesn’t it. Feels like the term that describes “those” people. You know “those” people that you weren’t encouraged to hang around with when you were a kid but became friends with when you were a teenager.

“Those” people that gave you a starting point for all the things deemed bad by African Americans. “Those” people who cursed all the time and came from broken households and had sex at a young age and sold drugs and who were on their way to becoming nothing more than criminals and low wage earners for the rest of their lives. “Those” people from the projects, or section eight housing that you thought were different until you went to their homes and found that the difference was minimal at best. “Those” people that black America fought so hard to abolish during the civil rights era in the sixties, that white America caricatured with “What’s Happenin’” and “Good Times” in the seventies and that the buppy movement of the eighties shoved and hid in a back closet. The N***as. Yeah, ‘dem people.

‘Member ‘dem? Ha ha, jokes on you Jack, we are dem! Always have been and always will be. N***as.

Follow me for a second. I grew up in a single parent household headed by my college educated mother. My college educated father lived across town. They were divorced. My family was the blueprint for the Cosby’s. In the early seventies we moved into one of the thousands of soon-to-be-all-black suburbs that sprung up just outside of every major city around the country. We had a Benz and a Vega out front. We dressed nice. Had African statues and art in the house. Spoke and behaved properly. All that. But, when I was about six or seven my mother asked my father to leave for what he would later tell me was “some n***a shit.”

For all of the education and posturing we were in a real n***afied situation. After the divorce we went from being the Cosby’s to being the Evans’. The Benz sat out front and decayed, the Vega got ran down. Me and my siblings picked up slang, hood swagger and attitude. My mom struggled to make ends meet. We even went on food stamps for a hot minute to help get shit together. N***afied. Now, while all of us went on to college and my mother went on to become a professor and accomplished author, we recognize that to some degree we was n***as. We embraced it as much as we could and made our lives better by accepting what was and not what should be. While I’ll never say it in front of my mother, real n***as never disrespect they moms like that, if it wasn’t for being n***as we couldn’t have become black folk. HMMMM.

So as I watch the Sunday morning black talk shows and catch the latest blurb about how we shouldn’t use the “N” word I laugh my n***a ass off. As do many of the educated n***as I know. While black folks are caught up in how they are perceived, the n***as are out getting theirs……. or not. N***as don’t care that they are being called n***as or if they do care they go and change their status to fit in with the black folks all the while holding onto their n***a roots. You don’t know they are n***as until you go to their houses for a barbeque or something and meet the rest of their n***afied clan. LOL. My family is a nice mixture of n***as and black folks. But just like the saying that if a black person and a white person have a baby the baby is black, if you have n***as and black folks together the n***as will always dominate. OK maybe I’m stretchin’ here, but you get my point.

I say all of this to say that n***as have been and will always be around in some way, shape or form. And to say that if you shun n***as enough they will make themselves heard. Thus, we have the Don Juans and Flavor Flavs of the world. I’d also like to point out; as I’m sure some theoretical analytical n***a will do in response to this article, that there is a sort of catch twenty-two to all of this n***a/black business. Some days it’s good to be black and some days it’s good to be a n***a. Oprah’s coverage from the Superdome during the Katrina tragedy assured me of that. She be Black on T.V. but her n***a status kept her from getting robbed while in the Superdome. LOL.

Then she used her prominent African American status to get out and get back to Chicago in time fo’ the show. But seriously and lastly, our race and position in this country presents us with a double edged sword that we must wield carefully as to not sever a limb. In other words it’s great that when we need to be dignified we can use our African American/Black moniker. And, it’s just as great to be able to be n***as when we need to be. ‘Cause some days you just need to be ig’nant! Don’t cut off the n***a arm ‘cause you never know when we might need it. And n***as don’t cut off the African American arm cause they was the ones disciplined enough to read the book on how to use the sword in the first place. That’s all. Holla back, my n***a!

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