“I know it’s a heavy thing, I don’t say it lightly, but this is ‘niggerization’. You are not one of us, you are like the scary black man who we’ve been trained to fear.” – Toure, MSNBC analyst in reference to Mitt Romney.
Yes, Toure actually said that out loud…on national television. Here is my video response, with transcript below. Please share. This was straight from my heart. It is not a story I share easily, or with pleasure. But I could not be silent on this one.
I’d like to tell you a story.
I was six years old the first time I heard the word ‘nigger’. Jamie Haney called me that on the first day of school, matter-of-factly. He wasn’t being mean. He was just expressing his amazement at the fact that he was actually looking at a black person, and he thought that’s what we were called. Jamie and I came up through school together as friends, but unfortunately he wasn’t even close to the last person to use that word in reference to me. I grew up in a place where there were no black people. In the ’80’s. I was different. An anomaly. And kids are cruel. And some adults too. I was called a nigger nearly every school day of my life until I was 16 years old. Once, my best friends and I were handing out church flyers at a local diner. An older gentleman (well, maybe 30 but that was OLD to me at the time) who was clearly intoxicated took the flyer from my hand, looked up at me and suddenly shouted “Holy Shit! What are you doing here? I thought your kind was supposed to be out picking cotton or something!” and then proceeded to crack up at his own hilarity. My friends and I clearly had no clue how to handle this (we were maybe 14 at the time); and no one came to my defense or rescue. People stared, but most just looked away in embarrassment and continued with their meals. My friends and I left. We looked at each other, wide-eyed. We were scared, but none of us said a thing. What could we say? They didn’t understand the depth of my pain and I didn’t understand their confusion or helplessness. So we went on with our day, on with our lives. And that was pretty much every day of my life in Prince Edward Island, Canada. I faced names and beat-downs each day. Sometimes I took it. Sometimes I fought back. In a school system that had no experience with minorities in the 1980’s, there was no help to be found. Teacher after teacher and principle after principle said the same thing….if it happens away from the watchful eyes of staff, there is nothing we can do. I had no choice. I endured, until I was old enough to leave; and then I left. I now live in California. Pretty much as far away as you can get from P.E.I. without leaving the comfort of the United States/Canada.
I tell you all this not to elicit sympathy. I don’t need that. It’s been a long time since I was that scared but tough little girl. I’ve been blessed many times over since then, and I’ve learned the power of forgiveness. No, I tell you this because I read your comments about Mitt Romney today and they made me sick to my stomach, and very angry. You accuse Romney of “niggerizing” Obama. There is so much wrong with that statement, I hardly know where to begin. You see, that word…nigger….it means something. It means something very real to people like me who actually have intimate, firsthand knowledge of how it can be applied. I resent that you would use that so easily (though you claim it wasn’t ‘easy’, I don’t believe you). You used that term to get some press. Great. Mission accomplished. But in the process you have watered down a term of hate with deep historical significance by applying it where it most certainly does not fit. Toure, I’ve seen hate up close. I know what it looks like. I’ve felt it’s hands on my skin, seen the look in its eyes, felt the burn of its words. It is deliberate and it is real. Racism is not disliking our black President because of his socialist leanings. Racism is the scar I carried near my lip for decades after one particularly harsh punch in the mouth from a kid screaming “NIGGER!” at me while swinging away. Racism is that guy in the diner, the hoses and dogs turned on folks from my grandparent’s generation just looking to drink at a decent water fountain. When you accuse a person of racism, THAT is the legacy of hate you are laying at their feet. It’s every bit as heinous as accusing someone of being a child molester arbitrarily. When you accuse Mitt Romney and other conservatives like me of being racist based on no other proof besides the fact that we vehemently disagree with this President and his policies, you dilute the history and experiences of people like me. You cheapen that word – nigger. You rob it of it’s true horror – a horror we should never forget or take for granted.Not only that, Toure; but you cheapen yourself. You make it clear to blacks like me that you, indeed have no clue in hell what real racism is or where it can be found.
Accusing Mitt Romney of the “niggeriazation” of Obama is ugly, base, cheap and just plain wrong. You owe him and people like an apology. You seem like an intelligent guy. If you disagree with Mitt Romney and me, do so on the merits of the issues at hand. Don’t prostitute yourself on a network that it more way more white (percentage-wise) than the Republican party. It’s a song and dance eerily similar the minstrel shows of the past. You and I know full well the execs at MSNBC laugh and applaud and sign your paycheck every time you put on your tap shoes. Don’t like that reference? Hey, as you said so yourself, I’m just using the same old race-baiting playbook you and the Democrats have been using for decades.
You should be embarrassed.