It's Rachel's fault!
Read Rachel's (brief) blog this morning...a paraphrase of John Lennon's "Imagine". I was moved to respond with his "Happy Xmas".
That exchange prompted me to dust off my Lennon CD's and play a couple while I was posting an entry on CAT Tracks. Up popped "Woman is the N***** of the World".
I had to laugh...
Fortunately, I was not one prone to employ the N-word in casual discussion long before I met Julie Jones. Oh, I'd heard it more times than I could count growing up in Cairo, Illinois during the 50s and 60s. Without a doubt, I used that word myself, although I honestly do not remember. But, when you grow up in a bigoted city and you are a member of the majority and you hear your peers and elders use such terms in everyday conversation...
It "ain't" right...it's definitely WRONG, but it's unfortunately human!
When Julie and I started dating, the N-word was never a topic of discussion. We had better things to talk about...to occupy our time. In fact, it may well have been in 1975...the release year of Lennon's "Shaved Fish" album which contained the song.
Anyway, Julie explained to me "the rules" for using the N-word.
First of all, the obvious...a white person should NEVER use the N-word, especially around black folks. Totally unacceptable! In the 70s, "Colored" and "Negro" had also become unacceptable. Black was beautiful...and best (later to be upgraded to more politically correct "African American".)
Julie always kept a sense of humor about the topic. One day, when I came in from working in the yard and complained of chigger bites, Julie rose to her full 5-foot height, placed her hands on her hips, and said in no uncertain terms that from this day forward I was NOT to use the word "chigger" in HER house...it was "cheegro", if you please!
Oh, yes...it was "acceptable" for this white boy to used the N-word around Julie and her family...sparingly, in a humorous or joking manner, as they themselves did.
BUT...I'd better get the pronunciation right!!! It was "niggah", not "....er".
I could count on two hands the number of times that I ventured forth into that arena over the 33-years of our marriage. About the best that I could do was to proclaim "Negro, PLEASE" at some outrageous moment.
But...back to John Lennon and his 1975 release.
Julie and I were driving somewhere when we first heard the song...over the radio - no 8-tracks, no cassettes, no CDs, no mp3 player for us at that time in history! We both raised our eyebrows and laughed when John sang the opening line..."Woman is the n***** of the world", but the special moment was yet to come...about the third stanza.
It went like this...
Without missing a beat, I turned toward Julie, took a long hard look, did an exaggerated flinch and exclaimed "My, God...he's right!"
That moment was priceless...we laughed until we literally cried.
A couple of days after posting this entry, I got an e-mail from friend Kathy...a confirmation, if you will. Thought I'd share...