Jan 20, 2012

After the birth of his first daughter, Jay-Z made the announcement that he would no longer use the B word in his songs. He decided, that as a Dad, he did not want his daughter to ever be subjected to the use of the vulgar insult. I'm not really sure what reaction he expected to the announcement but, clearly, the National Organization of Women will not be throwing a ticker tape parade in his honor anytime soon. In fact, some mothers appear to be downright angry about his announcement even though (based on their posts) they have actually listened to his music in the past.

Now this post probably won't make me very popular, fortunately, I have not desired to be popular since high school, but I had a completely different reaction to his announcement. My first thought was kudos to Blue Ivy Carter, at just a few days old, she's already struck a blow for woman-kind. I mean she clearly worked a trance on this man...one that no woman before her has accomplished. I am not privy to their personal lives, nor do I want to be, but at least on the surface, Jay-Z seems to love his wife very much so I was quite shocked when he began referring to her as the baddest B (not short for Beyonce) in the business. Even more appalling to me at the time, was the fact that she didn't seem to have a problem with it. So for Blue Ivy to have inspired a change in him that even her mother could not, felt like a significant moment to me.Now, most of the articles, I have read have described his choice to stop using the B word as selfish and narcissistic. The writers point out that many Black girls have been born before Blue Ivy and that their births should have inspired this change in him. Theoretically, I understand their point but in reality Jay-Z is not the first person who refused to change his bad behavior until it personally impacted his own life.

Let me tell you a story about a man we'll call Mr. Z. Mr. Z was an old white man who was born and raised in Mississippi. Mr. Z and his wife, a white woman, had seven children and four of them were boys. One of Mr. Z's boys married a bi-racial woman; her mother was Black and her father was a White army man who never married her mother and only saw his daughter twice in her life. Well by all accounts, Mr.Z, who was rumored to have once been a high ranking member of the local Ku Klux Klan, was not too happy about this union but he was unable to stop it. Well in due time, Mr.Z's son and his bi-racial wife had six children of their own. And one of these children married a Black woman from Alabama and they, too, had children.

Now, Mr. Z was a big surly man especially through the eyes of a small child. One day, Mr.Z's daughter in law came for a visit and brought along his great granddaughter. While Mr.Z and his daughter-in-law discussed family business, the great granddaughter went outside to play. She was busy making mud pies when a stray football popped over the fence and landed a few feet away. Curious, she walked over and picked the football up but within a few minutes a blonde haired white boy descended on her, pushed his knee into her back knocking her to the ground, and screamed at her "Give me my ball, you little n*****".

Mr. Z's great granddaughter was terrified and angry. She had no idea what a little n***** was but she was always meticulous about her appearance(even carrying paper towels outside so that she could clean her hands while she made mud pies) and this little boy had gotten her pink dress dirty. She ran to the house in search of her grandma who quickly cleaned the dirt from her face and hands and tried to wipe off her dress. Mr.Z stood silently in the doorway and watched.

My grandmother wiped my tears and promised me ice cream and apple pie to soothe my wounded ego. As I sat at the table, I remembered what the little boy had said to me, so I asked her, "Grandma, what's a n*****?". She didn't answer but the look on her face told me it certainly was not a compliment. My great-grandfather stood up from the table and grabbed a shotgun from over his fireplace mantle. "Come point this little boy out," he demanded in a booming voice. I had always feared this man...he just seemed terminally grouchy to me. In fact, whenever my grandmother brought me to his house, I usually hid on the floor of the backseat until she coaxed me out with promises of a treat.

I don't ever recall him hugging me or showing me any kind of affection and while I was way too young to understand my family's racial make-up, I was pretty sure he did not like me for some unknown reason. But that day, he kind of became my hero. He held my hand and walked me down the street in search of the little boy. When we found him, he dragged the little boy home by his collar. Standing on the porch of the little boy's house, I heard him tell the little boy's father, "if he ever calls her that word again, you'll be picking his teeth up off the street." I felt honored and defended.

According to family legends, my great grandfather probably use the n word hundreds of time himself and he may have done far worse than that but I doubt he ever used it again after that day. So ,I for one, am willing to give Jay-Z a little leeway on his belated understanding of just how dangerous words can be. Sometimes we really don't understand how we affect other people until we are forced to see the pain in the eyes of someone we love. Jay Z, I hope you stick to this proclamation. No backsliding because Blue Ivy is watching and learning from the example you set.

Now on a side note, Beyonce, I need you to heal up so that you can make another baby. I am requesting that this one be a little boy so your husband can learn the dangers of the n word and strike that from his vocabulary next. What??? A girl can dream, can't I??

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