About two weeks ago, I put up a post defending Colorado Representative Doug Lamborn’s use of ‘tar baby’. I think it ought to be re-read for context. I think everything ought to be read for context. It’s the basis for my defense of Lamborn’s words. Nevertheless, a friend of a friend on Facebook took umbrage, and believes that defense makes me a racist.
I’m a lot of things. A sinner in need of God’s grace for sure. A heel at times, no doubt. I’ve described myself in the past as rude, crude and socially unacceptable at times. But a racist? Not as I understand the word’s meaning.
rac·ist [rey-sist] noun
1.a person who believes in racism, the doctrine that a certain human race is superior to any or all others.
I don’t think for a minute that whites are superior to blacks… or that whites are superior to any race. I think we’re all part of the human race, that we all bleed red when cut and that Christ has died for the sins of all humanity.
But a guy named Don engaged me on a long Facebook thread immediately after that post, claiming then that I was a racist and doing so out of the blue again today.
We had the following quite telling exchange, one he began with no words, just a link to a YouTube video:
Don, I agree with Pryor… and think Carlin is wrong… though frankly, I think Carlin is wrong on alot of things… the bottom line for me is that I don’t use the ‘N’ word… I find that it only has one meaning… and that meaning I find anathema… Pryor is right, Carlin is wrong. Period. Hope you and yours are well man…
I think Carlin is right from the general perspective of looking at us all as one. I can’t speak about all he had said as a comedian but I felt attempting to explain the slur’s many uses as he was during that monologue was an action you’d be familiar with. My mom in anger used to call my sisters “heifers” ALL THE TIME and that image of my sisters being female cows used to tickle my brothers and I. My sisters hated it, so I understand how some terms made to hurt have MULTIPLE uses but does it make it right to use it? Knowing the shame it caused, I still pause today when I hear the word, “heifers”. By definition its a harmless word, but used in a very specific way it can be a hurtful word used to damage a person’s psyche. Now I’d never call my daughter a heifer even in anger and I only apply it to cows LOL. I know there are still people who use heifer the same way my mother used to use it, and even some who find it a funny word. But my sisters still don’t, and talk how much hate they have for the word to this day. Apply this to any insult, slur, animal, grain, or mineral you’ve heard twisted into a joke more than likely someone doesn’t like it or think its funny. But then again, someone always will laugh or be entertained by it such is human nature..
I’m not familiar at all with the notion Carlin was attempting… which is to justify the use of a word that in all contexts is a slur… all contexts… and especially in the context he used it… calling Pryor and whomever it was what he did… inexcusable… if you think that’s what I’m doing, all I can say respectfully is that you’re full of crap… we’re at a brick wall Don… I mean, all we can do is agree to disagree… you’re equating the use of the word tar baby when describing a sticky and unwanted situation as a slur… I’m saying it isn’t… and I’m not about to back down from that… can tar baby be used as a slur against a black person? Hell yes… and you’ll never see me use it as such… but to describe a situation where you feel stuck and helpless… I will… Period. Peace Don…
But the N word isn’t a slur all the time is it? You have me confused with someone who believes it is a slur all the time, amongst some circles people use every simple slur or insult harmlessly. Thats the truth, and the “context” Carlin was talking about. If you don’t know it, my fault. And I understand Rick you don’t think Tar Baby is a slur, I’m trying to tell you it is. If you think it is nothing but a cartoon, you’re either naive or a simpleton. Oh, and a racist.
Don… how can the ‘N’ word be a slur only at times… and tar baby be a slur all the time? Makes absolutely no sense to me… None. And dude, I’m a lot of things… I do mean a lot of things… but I’m not a racist.
Yes, you are racist using racist terms. Read the above for the answers to your question as I said above substitute any insult or slur for the word “heifer”. Tar baby is a racist slur, racist.
I attempted numerous times to send him the following but can’t… I suspect he’s blocked me now which actually is probably best:
I’ll allow that you think I’m a racist… but I think you’ve already proven that definitions and context mean little… you’re convinced that I’m a racist and I’ll not change your mind… so I won’t try… I’ll leave who I am up to Him who knows my heart and who judges me perfectly…and wish you God’s peace, something I mean sincerely and genuinely.
And I do.