Monday, February 5, 2007

The Jig Is Up AKA Kill That Noise

Considering that this is Black History Month it only makes sense that I pick this time to post about the following subject. The word “jig” should no longer be used by any blogger or writer from here on out. This practice is ignorant and beyond stupid.

By making this statement I’m not trying to be a moral leader of any kind in this matter, I’m simply using common sense. The term “jig” is a derogatory term that was previously used exclusively by racist assholes for the specific purpose to demean and degrade in reference to Black people. The term “jig” does not have a history of ever being used as a term of endearment by Blacks or any other people of color. So why then do bloggers such as the ones at DallasPenn.com and Byron “Bol” Crawford use this term so freely in reference to their own people with the same intention and in similar context? Why is it always used in a pejorative sense as if to distance themselves from the person/people that they’re using it on in the same manner that the racist assholes who used it on us in the past did (as if they’re on the outside looking in and they aren’t Black themselves)? When you call your own people “jigs”, you might as well open the floodgates and call them “junglebunnies”, “spooks”, “spades”, “moulies”, “spearchuckers” and “porch monkeys” as well. What’s the damn difference?

When the word “nigga” is often used by Blacks or Latinos in reference to other Blacks of Latinos, the word itself cannot stand alone...it needs a qualifier and a particular context in order to make sense to the reader/listener/audience (Whether it be “That’s my nigga”, “That nigga’s stupid”, “That nigga is a genius” or “he’s a bitch ass nigga”). That’s not the case with the usage of the term “jig” in relation to another Black person, it can only be used in a negative manner and it needs no qualifier whatsoever...No one ever writes shit like “That jig acted his ass off in The Last King Of Scotland!” The purpose of the term’s usage is to separate the writer/user from the subject or their actions, much the way modifiers like “ignorant bastard”, “dumbass” or “stupid muthafucka” do. Difference is that ANYONE can be a stupid muthafucka...does anyone who uses this term refer to any non-Black person as a “jig”? Do they use it but consider THEMSELVES “jigs” but just smarter ones than the “jigs” they criticize (like I do if was to refer to a Black person who calls his own people “jig” as an “ignorant ass nigga”)?

Who in the hell ever thought it was cool to use a term that racist or ignorant people used on Black people exclusively to describe their OWN people? Whenever I see that word used in print in blogs either on DallasPenn.com or XXL I can’t believe that a Black person intentionally used it. I personally can’t call someone else a “jig” ever...Why? Because I’m a Black man and I have common sense. Whenever I personally used the word “nigga” I was automatically implying by my usage that I was a “nigga” MYSELF. This is because “nigga” is also a term of endearment depending on it’s particular usage or context. If I ever meant it or used it in a negative way, I’d have to add a qualifier to it because the usage of the term by itself (unlike “nigger”..ask Michael Richards or Paris Hilton) has no intent of malice behind it (at least not when I use it, which is less and less as I get older). My mother grew up in Alabama in the 40’s and moved to Boston in the 60’s and had that word used on her in a hateful manner for years...How in the hell do I justify being a grown man who knows right from wrong and using it against my own people in that same exact context TODAY?

The usage of this term (whether it be in print or vocalized) is nothing more to me than playing into the self hate that we have been conditioned to perpetuate since we were first bound in shackles and then “seasoned” and “conditioned” during the Middle Passage before being brought to America. We were not encouraged to have any kind of solidarity or stability whatsoever (even families were separated from each other). We were often played against each other (The Willie Lynch Theory) and told that we were only worth 3/5 of a “regular” human being ( The Constitution Of The United States Of America). We weren’t allowed to read, write, make music or congregate in large groups unless it was church (The Slave Codes). We were encouraged to hate ourselves and each other...even to dread the color of our own skins or the coarseness of our own hair. That’s what the usage of the word “jig” represents to me, going back to that very same slavery mindset that have kept us from progressing even 143 years after being “freed”. Fuck that. I’m all about progression. I’m all about evolution. I’m about the next level. Calling my own people a word that racist, ass backwards people used as they kept us from receiving the goods, services, or basic human respect that we deserved as sentient beings is DEAD.

I cannot change anyone’s mind on this issue no matter what I write and I’m fully aware of it. Any of the bloggers from DallasPenn.com, Bryon “Bol” Crawford or anyone else that freely uses this term in print or otherwise are all grown men/women that have to look themselves in the mirror daily and account for their own individual ways and actions. If they have no problem with using it, then that’s on them, I won’t comment on it any further or press them on it. They just need to know that they are wrong for doing so. It’s even dumber than a Black person using the term “wigger” (which is beyond stupid...think about it).

I personally (I can only speak for myself) can’t imagine calling another Black person a “porchmonkey”, “pickinniny” or a “tar baby”, even in jest (but if you’re cooning and making us all look bad, you best believe I’ll call it like I see it). That’s why Uncle Ruckus on The Boondocks is so damn funny. Aaron McGruder uses that character to illustrate to us just how ridiculous Black peoples own self hatred is. When muthafuckas are actually using old racists term in reference to each other that we never embraced that’s when I have to draw the line. I’m done on the subject. Like my boy NYOil said in his song “Malcolm X and Martin Luther King didn’t die for us to act like this”.

One.

10 comments:

John said...

"Now ain't that the pot callin' the kettle black!" (Damn. Really).

So, in your own mind, you have justified your usage of the word, "nigger" (even if you spell it "nigga" to reflect pronunciation) but you lay down the law for what is right in others' minds. How does that work, really?

As far as the word "nigga" being a term of endearment for black people, I have to say, "What???"

In hip-hop, how many rhymes have been constructed using the words "nigga" and "trigga?" Oh, I see. If you blow the head off a "nigga" when you pull the "trigga" its OK; its just a term of endearment. (I guess because you spelled it with an "a", right?) Wrong. Unequivocally wrong.

I do not disagree with your hatred of racial slurs, no matter what the word is. For example, the word "spoon" is completely innoccent until someone somehow applies a negative connotation to it. If someone were to say, "Fuck that spoon-ass bitch!" then "spoon" has now taken on some sort of negative meaning. (Obviously spoon has no negative connotation at the moment, but I'm just using it for example's sake). So yes, if a person is referring to another black person as a "jig" and is meaning it to be short for "jigaboo," then you have racisim and/or ignorance.

If someone says, "The jig is up," because something's over, there is no racial connotation. That phrase dates back to Ireland and that country's folk songs, "Irish jigs." When the song was over, the jig was up. Over the years it has been made to imply that some sort of criminal activity has been revealed. And no, even that connotation has no racial basis.

The word "jig" has a few other proper and widely-used definitions in the modern english language. Nigger/nigga, however, does not.

And since you mention them, do you honestly believe Dr. King fought for your right to call yourself nigger? Given your ability as a human being to suss-out the meaning of Dr. King's great speaches, do you sincerely believe that he'd say, "And oh, yeah. It's OK for you guys to call yourselves nigger." (Yeah, yeah, its different when you say nigga, just like you don't mean something is bigger when you say "bigga" or figure doesn't really mean the same thing as "figga.") Give me a break.

My argument isn't that its unfair that blacks can use the "N" word and whites can't. (Yes, I'm white). I've heard people say that before, and its insane. My argument is that the word nigger shouldn't be used at all, unless the history/problem of slavery and racisim in this country is being discussed.

I know quite well through first-hand experience that racism is alive in this country. Believe me, the use of the "n" word by members of the black population brings a smile to some of my back-woods Nascar-lovin' co-workers. These are the same people whose ancestors used the word to degrade and humiliate the African to the point of zero self-worth. The fact that blacks use it in their everyday vernacular is the real "trick."

Get it right, man. You gotta practice what you preach.

Dart Adams said...

I don't feel as though I being hypocritical at all in what I wrote and I can't explain my usage of the N word to you. I don't use it in my writing on this particular blogsite, but I have used it (depending on the context) in my writing. I never called a Black man a "nigger" in my 31 years of life. That word and it's usage implies ignorance and hatred. I am neither ignorant or filled my hate. Thanks for reading it, John.

One.

Dallas said...

sounds plausible Dart, but even though I would be called Black by almost everyone in the world I don't subscribe to the 'my own peoples' dictum. Humanity is my peoples. Race and class and their subsequent monikers are used to keep people separated. I like your argument and I will consider how often and where I use the term 'jig'. To wit, it actually serves me as a blogger to use it because of the baggage that it brings.

Good post. Good for you that you feel a collective responsibility to a specific group of people. Are mulattos, quadroons and octaroons also included in your Black History Month celebrations?

Byron said...

What if the whole point of your use of the term is to come off as impolite and vaguely self-hating?

Dart Adams said...

Well then, Bryon, as I told my 5 year old niece while we were watching "Imitation Of Life" and she couldn't comprehend why the daughter was spazzing out "Black people shouldn't hate themselves or each other". I don't hate you even though I'm often dissapointed with what you choose to write about/how you choose to write it. One.

Byron said...

Uggh... what about Wayne Williams?

John said...

It seems that fortitude of man gets a "late pass" every time... Step!

Dan Love said...

Great post Dart, although I'm not sure if I fully agree with your argument. I believe that regardless of your ethnic background, words that essentially classify people by race in a derogatory sense should be avoided and are offensive, even if reclaimed by that group in a different context.

Of course, hip hop is bound up with issues of identity and a notion of the 'other' which is why it is not enough of an issue to stop me from listening to the music. However, there is something about the word 'nigga' that has always made me feel a little uncomfortable and I think is a big 'put off' factor for those that don't understand the cultural environment from which the music has developed.

Really enjoyed reading this - props.

Dan

Dart Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dart Adams said...

At first, I was wondering why when people read this blog they weren't immeadiately fired up and up in arms condemning Dallas Penn, Billy Sunday, and Bol for using the word "jig" in their blogs (well, actually...I was wondering why they weren't already doing it BEFORE I wrote it but that's neither here nor there). I posted it here, BostonRap.com, Okayplayer.com, and AllHipHop.com at noon on Monday (February 5th) and after a full day of it being up (and sinking like a stone on every board faster than a J.J. Fad appreciation thread) the general consensus was I fucked it all up by mentioning the N word at all (especially my usage of it). Here's Rafi Kam of Oh Word's take on my blog:

"A lot of criticism this week for Bol. First Dart Adams questions the incessant use of the word “jig” by Bol and Dallas Penn. This post could have perhaps sparked an interesting discussion but Dart hamstrings his argument by defending his own use of the n.i.double g.a. and then by not responding to Bol or Dallas when they show up to comment. Oh well."

Hold on..Did I really just fuck this whole thing up? When I first wrote it, I figured that if I posted that and didn't qualify WHY the usage of "jig/jigaboo" (by showing the parallels between it and the N word) was bad then there'd be NO response at all and people would think I was being super moral or holier than thou. In retrospect, I should have just left that entire element out of the blog altogether.

Some people read it and thought I was a hypocrite for using the N word. Others were like "I see what your saying, but...". After about 3 days no one cared...not good. It was looking like bad execution of a good idea on my part.

Bol and Dallas Penn both read it and responded in a civil manner. No angry words exchanged, no protest threads, and no other mentions of my blog anywhere else other than mine. In the end, I got on the soapbox and botched the incendiary speech to the assembled throng of people...Damn!

Thanks to everyone who read this. Next time I post another blog like this I won't make the same mistakes again.

One.