COLUMN: Breaking bad habits

Kevin L. Clark

On Monday, a certain article pertaining to the usage of a certain word was published in a certain publication. Black United Students, KASA, UHURU and others were all present to deliberate this delicate situation. 

I believe that very little will be done to follow up upon decisions made at Wednesday’s meeting. As the new editor-in-chief of UHURU Magazine, I feel that these happenings rear their ugly head from time to time and we, as the black community, raise our fists and shout with angry voices to show that this has hurt us. The powers-that-be then give us a taste of satisfaction, and it calms our spirits. It makes us feel that we’re right and that the situation is over. I am talking to you, the people of color whose voices are not represented in this paper, to continue the fight. 

It was discussed at the meeting that there is a need for a diversity editor. I agree. There have been numerous articles discussing race that were not as culturally sensitive as they should be. The Daily Kent Stater, the editor-in-chief and Aman Ali should all be ashamed of their participation in this matter. I also believe that an example should be made of this situation. This has not been the first time that something like this has happened with the black students and the Stater. Ali should lose his position of influence with the newspaper that allowed him to have such a voice. I then say to the black populace – open your eyes. This does not only occur behind closed doors. I am asking for you all to curtail the language that you use. It is a powerful tool. The heat that came from Ali’s words would not have been so inflammatory, if it weren’t ignited from our own usage of the N-word.  

Aside from how you may feel about Mr. Ali’s article the point remains clear. The question is: If it’s such a positive word that is a term of endearment to your fellow brother or sister, then why can’t others use it?  

Is it because deep down inside we know that that word is wrong? I admit I say it. I don’t say it as often as I may hear it, but I do say it. Therefore, I challenge all the black students on this campus and abroad to immediately refrain from saying this derogatory term in every context of its meaning. The wheels are already in motion. During the filming of the movie, For Her, executive producer, Traci Williams strongly refused the usage of the N-word in the movie. Scenes that included the N-word had to be re-shot. The reason was because she didn’t want to further perpetuate the stereotype that dominates our music, movies and culture. We should all follow that example and exemplify on it. It’s like my girlfriend says, “If you swear in front of your children, you can’t expect your children not to swear when you’re not around.” Our finger is on the pulse of what’s “it” in this nation and around the globe. Because as Mr. Ali stated in his article, “You guys already have such cool stuff already, like doo-rags, spinner rims, and most importantly – fried chicken.” So, if it’s so cool to say the N-word, how cool would it be if the cool kids stopped saying it?

Kevin L. Clark is the Spring 2006 editor of UHURU magazine and a guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].