Knowing When To Shut Your Mouth
(or Letting a Byrd Out of its Cage)
by James A. Landrith, Jr.
You'd think that 83 years on earth would make a man wise. Obviously, this isn't the case when you're dealing with politicians.
On Sunday, March 4, 2001, Democratic Senator and former Klansman, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia said the following in response to a question from Tony Snow regarding race relations:
- "They are much, much better than they've ever been in my lifetime. I think we–this is my personal opinion. I think we talk about race too much. I think those problems are largely behind us. I think we can all profit by our mistakes. I think we've reached a new plateau, and I think it's going to keep going upward, that understanding and race relations.
"I just think we talk so much about it that we help to create somewhat of an illusion. I think we try to have good will. My old mom told me, “Robert, you can't go to heaven if you hate anybody.'' We practice that. There are white niggers. I've seen a lot of white niggers in my time; I'm going to use that word."
"We just need to work together to make our country a better country, and I'd just as soon quit talking about it so much."
Anyone involved with the multiracial movement for any length of time knows that there is no love lost between the NAACP and most multiracial organizations and websites. But I find myself in agreement with Kweisi Mfume's assessment that Senator Byrd's remarks were "both repulsive and revealing."
Having a brain and tending to use it, I object to the use of the word "nigger" by anyone, regardless of melanin level. It is a disgusting, offensive term whether it comes out of the mouth of a "white" Senator from West Virginia, a "Hispanic" bureaucrat from California, or a "black" advocate of the "one-drop" rule telling others that their "multiracial" identity will never be respected by "white" people and they will always be considered just another – well, you know. It is far past time to relegate this terminology to the scrapheap of history. It serves no useful purpose and only causes division, hurt and anger. Let go of this word Senator Byrd. Let go of this word Mr. Bureaucrat. Let go of this word Mr. One-Drop Advocate. Let go.
James Landrith is the notorious editor and publisher of The Multiracial Activist and The Abolitionist Examiner, two cyber-rags dedicated to freedom from oppressive racial categorization. Landrith can be reached by email at: email@example.com or at his personal website/blog.
- The Washington Post: Sen. Byrd Apologizes For Racial Remarks
- 'Fox News Sunday' Transcript
- Associated Press – Byrd Apologizes for Racial Epithet
- About.com African-American Culture Guide – The "N" Word – Why Do African Americans Still Use It?
- About.com Race Relations Guide – Who You Callin' a …?