Saturday, June 09, 2007

More Racism on Big Brother ???

I would just like to say that I am not a fan of Big Brother. And never will be. I find no pleasure in watching a bunch of attention seeking, selfish individuals. Yes and that includes all the so called moralistic winners such as Shilpa Shetty. Speaking of which; the latest Big Brother has again been subject to controversy. Or has it. This latest eviction due to the use of rascist language directed at another contestant. Is it a knee jerk reaction to the celebrity BB calamity that happened not so long ago?

A while ago I read several interesting articles on reclaiming racist words like nigger and paki. The word nigger has to an extent been reclaimed. The word nigger and paki where extremely offensive terms used for people from the african/carribean regions of the world and paki for people from the indian continent. Evidence of reclaiming the word nigger has clearly happened in some hip-hop and rap lyrics. More recently there has been a drive by some parts of the asian community to relcaim the word paki. Either term is considered offensive by a percentage of the population. I have a number of asian and black friends. Would I consider using those words in their presence or indeed refer to them in those words? No of course not. I am asian and I was subject to abuse years ago and the words paki I still consider highly offensive. Why ? For one, it was incorrectly used as I am not of pakistani origin. Two, the majority of people using the word paki were unfortunately white working class idiots. I'm not suggesting that the blame lies entirely with one group of people for there are people from many social and cultural backgrounds who are equally as racist. But I'm not going to travel down that path for this article. I describe my experience as a child. The word paki was used indisriminately. And I think that is what hurt the most. I remember standing up to a racist bully and just before I got a kicking, I remember asking him if he knew the difference between an indian, a pakistani and a bangladeshi? He answered that "we all look the same, smell the same and talk the same". What a charmer.

As always I did some research on reclaiming words like nigger. There is some suggestion that a portion of black american's have readily accepted the reclaimation of the word. Here is an interesting link that articulates the argument much better than I could. And clearly is much more qualified than I am to do so.

I look at this argument from my life experiences and how I see those terms. So back to the Big Brother incident. Was it right for a white person to allegdly use the word nigger "affectionately" to another house mate who happens to be black?

The words that were said were, "You're pushing it out, you nigger". For a nineteen year old to say such a thing must mean a couple of things. Being a little naive and just because it might be acceptable black on black doesn't necessarily mean that black on white makes it acceptable too. People are clearly going to say but why, doesn't that set a double standard? Because I don't think that the word nigger in this country has been totally reclaimed. Black people do find the word offensive. In the USA it might be slightly different but here it is still very much a sore point. I do feel sorry for her because I think that perhaps she's listened to a little bit too much gangsta rap/hip hop. I'm sorry, I just had to have that little dig.

In much the same way, I would find being called a paki by either an asian or persons from a different ethnic background highly offensive. Reclaimed or not.

Those terms which originate from hatred should really remain there. They certainly will do to those who were referred to in that context. Nothing really changes that fact. Reclaimation of an offensive word may help lessen the guilt of society but it never quite takes away the offence that it caused in the first place. Should those words remain in our language. That is really up to people as a whole. Those words I suspect will quietly slip away as more people become educated to the ways of other cultures and peoples.

I've only just learned through reading the BBC's "Have your Say" section on this subject that the Charley, the black lady in question had already used the word nigger. It doesn't take away anything I've said but to reinforce some points that I've made about double standards and society not being ready reclaim racist terminology. One final point. The lady who has been booted off for using a racist word, Emily, if she truly believes that she mean't to use the term in a friendly way then I'm sure her black friends will be more than happy to publicly support her. We shall see. Oh did I mention that she is a self confessed right wing Tory supporter? I'm not suggesting that right wing tories have a fondness for racism, its just that for a young lady to side herself with a party clearly struggling to distance itself from that kind of reputation, surely she's seems to think that is what the Tory party stands for. Oh dear. Clearly the PR machine isn't working very well at the moment.

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