Piers Morgan is not a racist, but he really shouldn't be lecturing black people about the N-word

Racists don’t feel legitimised using this word because we use it - they feel legitimised because they are racist

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The Independent Online

After penning a condescending piece entitled "If black Americans want the N-word to die, they will have to kill it themselves", Piers Morgan appears quite taken aback by the backlash he’s received. I’m not. Though he made valid points, his arguments were invalidated by his disconnect from the black community.

If you’re fighting a cause but alienating those you stand with, then you must be told. So whilst Piers Morgan is not a racist, he is painfully out of touch with the demographic he hopes to ‘advise’. Had he bothered to journey out of his ivory tower and through the privilege that comes with his ivory skin, he’d have realised most of us didn’t need, or even want it.

And that’s not because he’s wrong, but because an (albeit well meaning) white, middle class Englishman smugly presenting a superfluous non-solution as if they have discovered the cure to cancer is a narrative we’re familiar with and tired of.  Black people have had quite enough of rich white men telling them what to do, thank you very much.

He’s had his ‘eureka’ moment several years after many a black scholar, activist and average Joe has debated the very thing he believes he’s brought to our attention. It’s like watching your nan tell you about a ‘brand new thing’ called Skype. And it doesn’t help that the entire thing reeks of the white saviour complex - as if it had never crossed our silly minority minds to stop using a word that would end racism as we know it. Because the fact of the matter is, it wouldn’t.

Black people banning the N-word will not stop racists using it. Though rap music and Vine videos may see the word crop up in spaces where it wouldn’t have a few years ago, such as on Twitter, its continued usage by blacks has no bearing whatsoever on whether whites will use it as a racial slur. Racists don’t feel legitimised using this word because we use it - they feel legitimised because they are racist.

The white teens that use the word in lieu of ‘bro’ on Monday turn to its pejorative meaning on Tuesday when embroiled in an argument with a black person. And even if they don’t, they can. Therein lies Piers’ problem - blaming black people for the use of a word we never wanted, rather than the society which created it.

Many people agree with Piers Morgan because this argument removes culpability from whites and places it at the doorstep of blacks who have attempted to turn the massive flaming turd left on their porch by society into something less fetid. Whether this has been successful or not can be critiqued, but like most things perhaps that’s best left to those who can actually provide a nuanced and, most importantly, informed view on the subject.

Piers is not this person. He tweets affectionately about the British Empire, for goodness sake (which was also very fond of the idea of white men ordering people of colour about ‘for their own good’ too).

Marginalised groups often attempt to reclaim the slurs that are used to denigrate them. Those who do not inhabit these groups may not understand why, but since they don’t inhabit them, no one is asking them to. As a heterosexual woman who benefits from the privilege of ‘normative sexuality’, it’s not for me to condemn the gay communities continued use the word f****t, neither is it for me to scold Asians use of p**i, especially without touching on the role the straight, white men like Piers should play in stopping racism, homophobia and sexism altogether.  Lest we forget, this isn’t a conversation we’d even be having had white people not created the word hundreds of years ago.

Though he may not agree with the attempt at rebranding, what he certainly shouldn’t do is place the onus on blacks for their decision to reclaim a word created to besmirch them in the first place.

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