But Can We Stop?
The time has come to discontinue the deception of the use of the N-word. We cannot deceive ourselves about the historical usage of this word. Deception is most effective when employed with the complicity of the deceived when oblivious and totally clueless to the truth. Deception is mainly used to promote an acceptance of a falsehood gaining advantage or incentive by voluntary compliance.
Any deception is a form of delusion that requires your acceptance and thus influences your reality, causing a manipulated behavior or response disguised as free will. A fantasy or illusion is then created, which establishes fiction as a fact that is then acted upon. Self-deception is the most effective form of deception, creating delusions of convenience.
Delusion is a mental disorder, and the more extreme it is and practiced or embraced, the more significant the psychological dysfunction. Delusion allows one to staunchly and adamantly accept and defend a belief or position that has been exposed and discredited as contrary to reality. The greater the dysfunction, the more danger it poses to the deceived one’s lack of awareness of the deception or delusional conversion.
The concept of an enemy disguised as a friend is a common delusion, the wolf in sheep clothing syndrome. We are at a fork in the road in history to definitively restore reality to the legacy and use of the N-word while we grapple for specific treatments of equality. The perpetuated effects on our people in particular and the structures of society, in general, have restrained our mental health and progress. The courage to recognize and confront the truth is the first step to correct this deception as the first action to shed its grip.
The N-word is defined in nearly all dictionaries as the vilest and most insulting word in the English language. Some have argued that we have appropriated the term to change the connotation and embrace self-love and honor our blackness. If this is true, why is it insulting when other races “honor” us by calling us that? Reflecting historical use of the n-word, the meaning has not been changed in our minds to an empowering and appreciative word when used by others. We even still use it in a derogatory manner against each other when angry or describing something foul.
Stockholm syndrome is developing affection or sympathy for your oppressors or captors by assimilating with their ideology, a sort of mental surrender. Stockholm does not promote a mutual partnership but a subordinate designation of your dependency as a hostage or slave to a master. It is an integration of your humanity as an eager hostage. It is essentially your justification for their actions for having held you hostage. The N-word can be interpreted as such by the embracing of it. Plato’s theory of reality further explains a correlation between thoughts and corresponding actions regarding social organisms.
Lima syndrome is where the captor becomes sympathetic to their hostages and feels remorse for dehumanizing and imprisoning them. Imagine a captor insisting on inflicting dehumanizing treatment on a hostage. Now imagine the hostage embracing or insisting on the treatment used to dehumanize them by using it on themselves. The N-word can again be interpreted as this by adopting its usage because when they discontinued using it, we did not. It is psychological slavery so complete that they can’t even prevent you from abusing yourself when they have stopped.
Emotional bonds and coping mechanisms beyond what was needed for survival have now oddly enough become self-imposed conditioning. How can you disassociate the method of trauma oppressively enforce while this word was used? By our use of it subliminally, how does its meaning and origin change for us or others? Does our use damage our self-image as much as it damages our image to others?
This extends beyond the border of mental illness. It is accepting and maintaining an outdated coping mechanism that has to be considered brainwashing. Begging for equality is the manifestation of the brainwashing of a hostage. Seeking validation for what was damaged inside us, asking for permission from the one who damaged us reveals a simmering pathology. It may be futile to claim power from what was used against us. Socrates described this well in his Allegory of the Cave of a limited reality defined by the wall shadows.
The expression of a need for validation from the source of abuse instilled this inferiority complex that we do not feel worthy of vehemently denouncing. The N-word’s use is not a way of seeking relief from the brutal historical systemic racial subordination we have long endured. Are we so willing to continue using this word that we would deceive ourselves about the atrocious history of this word and what it has really done to us?
Our use does not vigorously reject the assumptions of the inadequacies associated with the N-word. We cannot embrace this word with such a horrible history and denounce all that it has represented. The historical meaning and application of the N-word can never be erased or minimized. When we demand change from others, we must also self-evaluate and demand change from ourselves.
It should never be culturally acceptable to demean ourselves by voluntary association with this word. By contrast, no other race or culture self-define themselves with derogatory terms used by others to demean themselves. Others may use those terms, but they do not refer to themselves as such or allow others to do so.
Using the N-word to self-identify as a group is where we get it wrong because it guarantees that the word will continue to be derogatorily used for another four hundred plus years. The negative connotations continue to be falsely assumed as accurate. We correctly understand that we must forbid others from using it against us or about us.
What we must understand is that we must also stop using it to define ourselves. At its core, the N-word is not a term of endearment because it feeds an inhumane dichotomy of ourselves in opposition to our interest. We must first convince ourselves that we are something else before others are convinced that we are something other than what we have allowed ourselves to be called.
If we cannot or will not stop calling ourselves this word, why should others not perceive us as that even if they don’t call us that? Maybe we should not say it for them to hear, just as we don’t want them to say it for us to hear. Perhaps no one should hear it, which means no one should be saying it, most of all us.
Our expectations no longer request a change but demand change. We are in a position to expect and achieve this change but could accelerate it by our actions. What behavioral changes are we willing to make to bring about these changes sought? The question then becomes, is it realistic to expect change without us changing or making concessions that facilitate the desired changes.
Systematic atrocities have been conceived and committed using this word. This word has accompanied slavery, lynching, buck breaking, rape, coon hunting, Jim Crow, and many other atrocities to this very day throughout history, with the N-word as its constant and loyal companion.
Those who have subjectively dehumanized, oppressed, terrorized, and murdered our people have used this word to justify their actions. It has been their rationale for the denial of our fundamental human rights, claiming we are animals. This N-word has been inflicted upon us along with the extreme sufferings that have always accompanied its use. We must define ourselves and not fall victim to others’ historical definitions of us.
Just because we have been egregiously and systematically wronged, we cannot pretend that there are not things that we subject ourselves to that we must address for the improvement of our people. Some argue these result from intentional conditioning or social engineering, which may be accurate, but that does not dissolve our responsibility to resist it. For far too long, we have had to survive. Now we must begin to thrive.
Physical wounds have visible healing and damage, but psychological wounds fester under an invisible scab only detected and revealed by behavior. Behavior indicates more than anything your character and self-worth by your actions and not by your words. We must identify what actions and behaviors are counterproductive to our collective interests and obstacles to our advancement.
It is not always the boogie man; sometimes, it is our very own perspective that is frightening. The betrayal of our humanity and our interests can be considered high treason. Certain self-portrayals of ourselves does nothing to dispel some of these stereotypes. This is achieved by practicing this N-word lunacy that is associated with over four hundred years of atrocities. This word has survived many evolutions of society, law, and technology but remains resilient now by our support.
The circumstances where we were so methodically degraded was done using this word. They were denounced as evil; the word must then also be identified as evil and a symbol of that denounced evil. The immorality of this word is undeniable, reprehensible, and unredeemable. Sacrifices have been made, punishments endured, and unfair repercussions overcome for the price to have been long ago paid in full. Unity of our objective must prevail where divide and conquer has persisted in stagnating our interest.
A unified commitment to our equality establishes an axis, standard, and discipline that must be the basis of all our actions as a foundational change. The next frontier is promoting others beyond the limits of past restrictions to explore future possibilities envisioning ourselves as anything possible except for an N-word. Exponential viable advancement to incremental progress is more dependent on us than anyone or anything else. Playing our position or managing our post to hold ourselves accountable, being part of the solution and not the problem, is our needed contribution.
We must recalibrate our perspective, discarding that which does not serve us, rejecting its deceptions. We must declare an elevated reality that does not sabotage our efforts. We can only deny ourselves; we do not need other’s approval to proudly be the best representation of ourselves. Be the best representation of, not an abomination to our culture by cultivating, promoting, and nourishing excellence that demonstrates a worthy portrayal of our character. The results will motivate self-acceptance, generate impartiality from others, and display renowned honor. A singular journey and purpose becomes our collective reality.
The philosophical theories of Plato and Socrates can be interpreted to mean that words reflect thoughts, and thoughts govern actions that shape perceptions that restrict our realities which define limitations within that reality. The N-word perpetuates what thoughts within us and others compel specific actions or attitudes, creating contrary perceptions manifesting some realities that produce the limitations and obstacles contributing to our condition with our consent.
Black folks, kinfolks, and all folks, it is time to bury the N-word in an unmarked grave, never again for us to offend or be offended by it. If others are not permitted to say it or can stop saying it, then we can too. Remember history’s use of this word and that it was the last word that many blacks heard before death, and not in a loving way. Reportedly this was the last word heard by Ahmaud Arbery. Respect the young brother by replacing that word with one we can appreciate and be proud of no matter who uses it. Honor our self and those who have been taken from us. From now on, no N-word should be allowed.
I remember Big Momma use to say it is not what they call you but what you answer to. Mom used to say be known for what you do, say, and what you are called to not bring humiliation upon our last name or yourself. Those who need reprogramming to fill the N-word void should initiate a challenge to creatively replace it with something conclusively empowering and complimentary.
Let me ask you a question. Would you be willing to abandon the use of the N-word if it meant greater equality for our people? What makes you think it won’t? It seems like a small sacrifice for us to pay for the potential reward it would provide. Yet, it is the right thing to do for our children’s legacy to grow up, not embracing a vile reference to themselves no matter how we twist it to be all love. Remember, the restrictions of our minds constrain our movement and ascension, encouraging harmful perceptions. In our declaration of equality and our prosperous future there can be no N-word allowed.
Thurston K. Atlas
Creating A Buzz