November 21, 2006 | Comments ()

By Miscellaneous | Miscellaneous | November 21, 2006 |


First of all: Fuck Michael Richards for apologizing!

Mr. Richards, it is I who should apologize to you. You see, I had no idea that you, Michael Richards — the legendary Kramer — frequented my humble little blog. I’d been warned by many that my use of the word “nigga” would create this situation, that it would place the word in the American lexicon, that I would force the legions of white people who blindly follow me and repeat my teachings across the globe to say things they wouldn’t otherwise say. But I never really believed that I was this influential, this powerful. Perhaps if I’d considered your inability to maintain some level of human decency — even in a comedy club, even when being (gasp!) heckled — I would have realized that I was pulling the pin on the grenade that you threw at your audience.

Some readers may need to be caught up, Mr. Richards. Excuse me for a moment.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, this is the video from Mr. Richards’ now infamous performance at The Laugh Factory (and for those of you who can’t view the video — especially those naughty ones who consume Musings on company time — I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes. Picture Cosmo Kramer, in response to being heckled, trying to set the world record for the use of the word nigger in a two-minute span and throwing in a blatant lynching reference for shits and giggles.):

And we’re back. Wow, huh? How exciting for me! Michael Richards is apparently my number one fan.

But then, Mr. Richards — and this is the part I feel worst about — you found your life turned upside-down. And all because you’re a member of the New Millennium Nation. Viral video being the force it is, the whole nation saw the video. But they were wrong to see it as an ugly, racist tirade by a bigoted bastard. They were wrong to be shocked as you explained so eloquently, “… it shocks you to see what’s buried beneath, muthafuckas.” They should not have been shocked. They should have viewed this as what it was: A tribute to A New Millennium Nigga. So, it broke my heart that you had to go on Letterman and apologize — for seven minutes:

A racist?! Why would anybody think you were a racist? Of course you’re not a racist. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) You, sir, are the victim of my brazen negritude, my embarrassing inability to appreciate just how much you idolize me.

This may come as a shock to you, but I’ve been idolized many times before. There was the time in eighth grade when I had to hem up a kid who took it upon himself to call my friend Jolene a nigger because she had gotten in line ahead of him to buy candy. He assured me he wasn’t a racist. There was the after-school tackle in the pick-up football game that caused another non-racist to bless us with an n-bomb. There have been the cars that sped by with loyal fans just looking to say “Hi” to me, A New Millennium Nigga, an American icon. Yes, I’ve apparently touched so many.

But I wonder sometimes why other things I say aren’t repeated with such regularity and vigor. For instance:

Affirmative action is pretty much the least that white America could and should do to atone for its treatment of black people and all oppressed people in this country.

Or:

New Edition was way better than New Kids on the Block.

Or even:

A New Millennium Nigga is every woman’s ideal lover. He’s dreamy — and angry, too!

I can’t even get Mrs. NMN to say that last one. You would think with my societal power that more of these would catch on. But they don’t. Only “nigga/nigger.” Weird.

You know, I’m thinking about it and you never mentioned me on Letterman. As a matter of fact, I have no reason to believe that you’ve ever heard of me. (And where did you get that cute little riff about “50 years ago” and those black gentlemen “hanging upside-down with a fork in [their] ass?” You didn’t get that from me. I stopped doing lynching jokes after I caused the murder of James Byrd, Jr. I should have cut them out altogether after I got Emmett Till killed, but you know how sometimes niggas can be hardheaded.) You know what? This may sound crazy, but I think all that racist shit that came out of you … came out of you.

Hear me out on this. I know it’s radical. But maybe you are racist. Maybe you just didn’t know how fucking racist you are. Maybe a lot of Americans are like that. Maybe this entire nation should try taking the first step — and that’s admitting you have a problem.

I’ve heard so many friends of the black race over the years say that we blacks need to take responsibility for our lives and stop blaming others. I’m going to have to request you be held to the same standard, Mr. Richards. I’m going to have to request that others, black or white, who would use your racism to explain why I shouldn’t say nigga get the cause-and-effect relationship straight.

You see, racism like the shit you said at The Laugh Factory helped to create the world in which I exist, a world where I never know which seemingly benign white person is walking around with visions of “niggers hanging upside-down with a fork sticking out their ass” dancing around in their head. I’ve become who I’ve needed to become to survive that world.

Reasonable minds may disagree on my creative and political choices. Earl Ofari Hutchinson opined on Arianna Huffington’s blog that the increasingly random use of the “n-word” by black comedians was partly to blame for the incident. “The obsessive use of and the tortured defense of the word by so many blacks gave Richards the license to use the word without any thought that there’d be any blow back for doing it. He was terribly wrong and got publicly called out for it. The blacks that use and defend that word should be called out too. Who’s willing to do that?”

He got the tortured part right. But the defense is of myself, of the place I have scratched and clawed to create for myself in this society, this country, this world. I defend myself against those who wag their finger at me, who disrespect me for my personal choice. I defend myself against those who would in any way excuse the rapist for calling the woman he rapes a “bitch,” simply because she may call her girlfriends “bitches” when they’re talking shit on the phone.

The more I think about it, the less I feel like I should be doing the apologizing. I’m not sorry for what you did. And, because your racism exists independent of my choices, I don’t even feel sorry for what I do.

Much respect to those who make a different choice. I respect their decision. But I’ve looked back over my life, over the history and heritage I share with millions of “others” and I’ve decided to take that scarlet “N” America forced upon me and to wear it as a badge of honor.

I am A New Millennium Nigga. I do not apologize for being that. I do not apologize for saying that. I say what I mean. And I mean what I say.

So, do me a favor Mr. Richards, don’t apologize. Don’t apologize while you hide behind “I’m not a racist.” You are a fucking racist. You may not want to be. You may not want us to know that you are. You may not enjoy seeing yourself that way. But the truth of the video is overwhelming.

You didn’t use “nigga” like I use “nigga.” You know why? Because you can’t. You have neither the cultural nor the emotional context that would allow that to happen. You simply saw some black people and said the first fucked-up thing that came to mind, the thing that comes to more minds than we may ever know or admit. “Nigger!” It wasn’t about a shared struggle. It was about the hate that made that struggle my reality. And anybody who would blame me for that is fucking bugging. (Note: “Bugging” is a word that niggas use when they mean that someone is “flipping out.” Usage: Michael Richards bugged the fuck out and called some niggas “niggers” at The Laugh Factory last Friday night.)

Mr. Richards — and I call you that to model a behavior I like to call “respecting other people’s humanity” — you are one racist muthafucka. So, now you know what I think of you. And I already know what you think of me. That’s a start.

So, don’t apologize. Not yet. Not when it’s so clear that you said what you meant and you meant what you said.

No, it does not shock me to “see what is buried beneath,” muthafucka. The sound of the tell-tale heart that is racism pounds and resounds in my ears. I’m just sorry that this is where we find ourselves — even in this new millennium.

Orlando Bishop, a.k.a., A New Millennium Nigga, is a writer living in L.A. You can find more of his work at The Musings of a New Millennium Nigga.

richards.jpg

I Owe You the Apology, Michael Richards

A New Millennium Nigga

Miscellaneous | November 21, 2006 | Comments ()




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