October 4, 2011

Is Sherri Shepherd Wrong for Negative N-Word Reaction to Barbara Walters?

I don't watch The View, so my soulclap goes to Your Black News for pointing me to the following video that shows a tense exchange between the women on the subject of the N-word. The ladies were discussing the recent 'Niggerhead' controversy with presidential candidate Rick Perry.

Watch the video and let's talk afterwards.

The most remarkable part of this discussion came from one of the Black panelists -- Sherri Shepherd. She had a negative reaction to hearing Barbara Walters use of the N-word. Shepherd was candid in noting that she didn't have any reaction to Whoopi Goldberg when she used the word at the beginning of the discussion.

The word is the same in either case. The only difference is the skin color of the two women who uttered the word. Whoopi is Black. Barbara is white.

I've heard this commentary from many Black people over the years. However, it became obvious to me that there is no excuse for a distinction. If we think that the N-word should be eliminated ... it should be eliminated by EVERYONE ... not just white folks like Rick Perry or Barbara Walters.

It dawns on me that Sherri Shepherd's position is the same irrational racism that we hate when we hear it from members of the Ku Klux Klan. Shepherd had an emotional response because of the color of Barbara's skin. Period.

That is wrong in my view. The rule should be clear -- don't use the N-word. Period. What say u?


Carolyn Moon (Amina) said...

Actually I found Whoopi's comments far more offensive than Sherri.
She's still holding on to that nonsensical rant about owning the word and taking the "stink" off of it. Richard Pryor before his death finally saw the word for what it was/is and indicated that it described our own sorry existence in the country when we were first brought to these shores and centuries later. Paul Mooney of all people has finally indicated that he wouldn't use the word anymore.

My take is that Sherri should be offended by anyone using the word PERIOD!

Villager said...

Amina - Yeah, it appears that Whoopi was going for the 'wow' factor by simply using the uncensored word to start off the segment. That is what set the whole thing off to being with.

Thanx for the update on Paul Mooney. I didn't realize that he agreed to discontinue the use of the word in his comedy sketches! That is definitely a positive move when it comes to this N-word issue.

DNLee said...

I don't like the word. However, saying it in the context of the news story seems appropriate for anyone (regardless of color to say it.

That is the name of the ranch. That's the story. So, in order to deliver the news one must/should say it.

I have no reaction to anyone using the word within the context of relating information or recounting facts - say recalling history, or in literature, e.g. William Faulkner book or Huck Finn.

Yes, the word is cutting and viserceral. I don't agree with saying it just for shock value, but we shouldn't be so against using the word itself that we lose sharing information. The word once/still is used to insult people. But even if we eliminated the N word from our vocabulary, couldn't we still cause just as must pain if say we used any word, like Fool, in a similar way?

Villager said...

Danielle - Thank you for sharing your insights and thoughts on this issue. I appreciate your POV, especially the recognition that the word may be appropriate for news stories. I'm not sure that I agree. There are some ethnic slurs against Jewish people or other ethnicity that I can't imagine being said out loud by any reputable news anchor or agency.

I also must admit that I have to use great imagination to see the word 'fool' having the same emotional impact as the N-word!