Bra, this is not your conversation
When Piers Morgan came out last week with an article that lamented the fact that black people in the United States call themselves a derogatory name that he's not allowed to use, I honestly wasn't very shocked. In fact, a friend of mine put it into context very well for me. He described Morgan's article as noise. To be quite frank, that's all I see it as. Morgan bra, you're just making noise.
So dude is bleak with the fact that in a world that has been divided along racial lines, he has to be reminded of the very real division by people who have appropriated a word, reshaped it's meaning and have afforded themselves a single worded bit of power. What's really bothering Morgan about the use of the word is that he can't ever associate himself with it, (he needs to keep his reputation pure) and therefore he feels as if he's being excluded from a conversation.
For me this is exactly the problem with the racial hierarchy, where many white heterosexual males very often believe that they are entitled to take part in every conversation that goes on in the world and must have final authority on how people should conduct themselves. Nah homie, that's not how it works anymore. The days of Kipling are long gone brother.
In Morgan's article, he loosely uses terms about blacks and gays, and mentions how they used words such as nigger and faggot as a sort of irony. Firstly, I'm not sure what he's talking about but people who talk using terms like blacks and gays are definitely not talking about people, they're talking about ideas. Morgan is speaking about social constructions, he is speaking in concepts of homogenous groupings, people that he really doesn't know anything about, people who make him feel deeply uncomfortable, because they no longer fit neatly into his hegemonic world view.
I'm really not trying to have a conversation about the use of the word nigga, the difference in spelling or to debate the history of atrocity committed against black people in America. But let me spell out very clearly that people who don't belong to particular communities have no right to tell those communities how to behave. Part of Morgan's argument is that he knows very well that not using the word nigger wouldn't end racism in America. Thanks for that profound gem from your mind grapes dude. Really, it's an amazing piece of wisdom. Now let me try and do you one better. Just because the word makes you feel uncomfortable and knowing that you could never use it, even out of irony, doesn't entitle you to close down spaces for conversation that 'others' have created for themselves.
Another friend made quick sense of this for me in a recent conversation which illustrates the way in which racial hierarchy plays itself out.
"Remember that kid who owned the ball, but couldn't really play the game and wouldn't let anyone else play because he couldn't? And if you still refused to play with him and got another ball, he'd be like I'm going to call my dad, cause he knows the person who owns this field and he's going to come and lock it up? That's exactly what's going on here."
With that I'd like to ask Piers Morgan to kill the noise.
Phumlani Pikoli is an online producer at _ Eyewitness News _ based in Johannesburg. Follow him on Twitter __ @scoutgumbee