Y'all weren't lying when y'all said he'd 'change the way we talk about race.'
Indeed O-beezie would.
We got 'Negro' on the Census. 'Negro' out of Harry Reid's, actually, accurate analysis of then-Senator Obama's candidacy. And, yes: It's 2010.
If he'd been Wesley Snipes-Black, and 'round the way-vernacular'ed, no, he wouldn't've been a contenda [sic]. But the fact that we're discussing this at all is what's greater than the issue itself what's been said.
The future feels familiar.
Ok. Being...(what's it called?...oh!) 'objective'...let's look at it like this: back in the day--that is, the late 19th century--'Negro' carried some teeth. Something like 'Black' did for 'Black' Power in the second half of the 20th century. Think New Negro Movement. The truly 'uppity Negro'--who may have had any trace of 'agency' or 'mobility' (if they can be called that) circa the early 1900s resisted such an association for fear of being excommunicated further from an overwhelmingly pro-terror White Supremacist society. Y'know...Societe des Etrange Fruit. (At which time, we were still Terror Threat #1. Now we've got mad bred'ren de todas las razas y colores...)
Hubert Harrison's The Voice [of the New Negro Movement], for example, was the kind of publication no allegedly progressive-minded 'Colored' (or so-dubbed by Le Societe) would want to be mentioned in cahoots with. These were the folks who were acknowledging the need for armed resistance in the absence of a system of law that would protect, defend, honor and enable their personhood and right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
That history, then, adds this "dayummmmm right/bad mutha--shutyo'mouth!", Shaft-like dimension to being called a 'Negro' because of how boldly the naming was claimed by our not-so-status-quo foremothers and -fathers.
On another hand, it makes sense that folks would be sensitive to the re-emergence of a term that feels odd in the context of the race classification of the first half of the 20th Century.
When you get into the no-excuses-indisputably-racist-as-HEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLL so-called 'science' of eugenics?? THAT'S when moi is tempted to neck roll, three snaps and everything else. That whole Negroid-Mongoloid-Australoid...Freakazoid biz was for more than tha birds!
That was the kind of foolery meant to legitimize some biological predisposition to less-than-human status. Consequently this was the science (much like 'drapetomania'...ohhhh...science...) that supported Black Codes and miscegenation legislation that still hasn't been totally disappeared from the books.
SCIENCE-IS-STOOPID: EXHIBIT A
As emerges in conversations on the other notorious 'N' word, 'tis true that we existed in this country for so long without the stated, on-the-record power to name ourselves, define ourselves as a kidnapped, and forcibly subjugated people. Annnnnnd as emerges in conversations on the other notorious 'N' word, there's this proclivity to discuss 'reclamation' of language and 'who's term is it anyway?'
That last matter is the real source of discomfort. Cuz it's whose mouths this word has slipped from: the State and Sen. Reid. Do they mean to acknowledge this string of history?
But I'm content to rear back, real cool-like like Shaft. Like a knowing rebel sitting on a secret...criminal indeed.
And so the moral of the story is simply this: no knee-jerks here. This business of semantics may never tire! But perhaps our threshold for dumb-it-down dialogue will.
Tryna get 'woke daily. Deuces!