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Berdine Dennard Berdine's Corner
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Kenney Dennard Publisher

Does Mel Gibson And
Others Deserve Free Passes?

by Kenney Dennard

The most controversial word in the English language has got to be Nigger. Listen to almost any rap song, almost any black comedian's routine, go deep in any black ghetto or urban area and it’s probably one of the most populist words spoken. It's either the word most blacks love to hate or the word most blacks just love. The word has somehow been flipped and used as a term of endearment from one black to another.

In many cases now, it's the same scenario with our Latino brothers and sisters whom have somehow indulged in the African American plight and have found themselves comfortable with the word. But inside our community, it's still a debate. Should this word be used at all in our everyday language? Regardless which side of the argument you stand, most Blacks agree, based on the origin of the word, that it's a term that shouldn't be used by non-blacks, especially if it's aimed toward a black. That could cause serious discrepancies, and many times lead to a serious altercation. For the most part, this fact is universally understood.

So why is it then that every few months, someone uses this word in a negative way? The most recent incident involves Actor Mel Gibson, another white celebrity is in the news for losing his temper, and in the midst of his tirade, spewing the N-word? Many others have also spoken this slur. We know from their dialogue that the way these words have been spewed that it’s mostly in anger, and is used in the same mean spirit as southern whites in the 60's. So does that somehow make it seem that when the going gets tough, we're all just niggers to them? Why do we seem to always take the high road and say or do very little about such actions? Doesn't it seem we give free passes to many of them for doing what deep inside most blacks hate? They either call us nigger or in some form degrade us with other put downs such as "Nappy Head Hoes."

"I wouldn't say we give free passes but we are definitely more lenient that other races and classes. You look at the Jews. Man, if someone utters anything somewhat disrespectful about Jews they feel the Wrath," Black Riverdale resident Rodney Perkins States. You don’t have to look far for an example.

Recently, Helen Thomas, who has been a career journalist and has covered many Presidents of the United States, made very inappropriate comments about Jews. She said they needed to get the hell out of Palestine and go home to Germany and Poland. Her words were hateful, offensive and inexcusable, especially for a journalist. She retired shortly after and we haven't heard from her since.

In 1989, one of the biggest rap groups out was Public Enemy. One of the members, Professor Griff, made anti-Semitic remarks. He said Jews were responsible for a majority of the wickedness in the world. He said this although he was in a group being produced by a Jew (Rick Rubin) and managed by a Jew (Lyor Cohen). He was quickly given the boot and heard from very little thereafter.

"I know the gay community is not a race although many of them try to use Civil Rights to fight for causes as the Black race did, but they are another group that has grown to the point where if you speak out against them, you can be exiled." Irvington NJ resident Wesley Montgomery states.

Shortly before the 2007 NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas, NV, ex NBA player, John Ameaechi came out of the closet about his homosexuality in a book. During the week of events leading to the big weekend, another ex-NBA player, Tim Hardaway was asked for a comment on a local radio show about Ameaechi. His response was, "You know I hate gay people, so let it be known. I don't like gay people, and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in our world or in the United States."

Hardaway was quickly shown the exit from the events on All-Star weekend. He was flown back to his Miami home before All Star Weekend even started where he apologized countless amounts of times, even saying he was going to receive counseling. Regardless, Tim has been seen little to none over the last 3 years around the NBA.

Former Grey's Anatomy actor Isaiah Washington also made headlines about 4 years ago about homosexuality. After calling his co-star, T.R. Knight a "faggot," Washington got into a scuffle with another co-star, Patrick Dempsey. Washington would later apologize to both stars and to the gay community. Regardless, he was fired from the show and has been seen in very little movies or shows since.

In the past few years, numerous white celebrities have made hateful, hurtful, racist and/or degrading comments either toward blacks or just about blacks. While Mel Gibson is the latest, he only joins a list, which include actor Michael Richards, rapper Emenim, Don Imus, Actor Charlie Sheen and golfer Fuzzy Zoeller.

Mel Gibson has been no stranger to controversy in recent years. In 2006, he became aggravated when being pulled over in Malibu for drunk driving and launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements. He quipped, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." He then asked the officer if he was a Jew. Gibson was quick to apologize for his comments to the Jew community.

In the last few months though, as Gibson's life has been going through obstacles such as break-ups and divorce, he has been recorded yelling to his latest ex, Oksana Grigorieva, "You look like a pig in heat! If you get raped by a pack of niggers, it will be your fault!"

Gibson has yet to apologize for that statement.

"OK, so should we be offended?" Atlanta resident Charmaine Driskal asks. "Are blacks automatically the niggers he's referring to? I don't know. That was a personal conversation. I think we all can see how he feels and the type of things he says out of anger behind closed doors but I wouldn't necessarily say he owed us an apology. I do think we should think twice about patronizing his movies and productions though."

Actor/Comedian Mike Epps disagrees. He says on a video on TMZ.com that he thinks "Mel Gibson need to show his apology by coming to give some of these young African Americans a chance to have something in life. That's the only way you can apologize... drop some of that opportunity."

The NAACP recently released this statement: "An apology is sufficient given his history of racism, sexism and anti-Semitism. No amount of words will change his image as an out of date and out of control racist. Only through a sustained period of positive acts can his legacy be redeemed."

Gibson is not alone though. A few years back, tapes surfaced of rapper Eminem freestyle rhyming and in the midst of the rhyme began to disrespect black females saying how he "hate black bitches," calling them hoes and gold diggers. He would later speak out and say he was dating a black girl at the time and he was angry over a break-up. Regardless, it was said and for the most part, Em never felt any repercussions because of it. Blacks seemed to just let it go.

Actor Nick Cannon, husband of Mariah Carey is confused about this, especially after Emenim has disrespected his wife as well in his music. Nick recently stated, "Maybe I'm going too far but I thought we had passed the days where white men could spew vulgar obscenities at our beautiful queens and get away with it. Some people may not realize or forget that my wife is a black woman." Carey has a black father and white mother. Cannon went on to say, "Let's not forget about Eminem's amateur mixtape rants of calling African American's Nigger and how he hates ‘Black Bitches.' How did we let him get away with that in the first place? He is a natural born racist in disguise."

"It comes down to the same thing we're always discussing here. Blacks have lost their unity. We don't unite for anything. All other classes and races do. We're that group that falls for anything and everyone knows it. It's sad," Reverend Calvin Holiday of Columbia, South Carolina adds.

Other Whites that have aimed racist remarks at blacks include Actor Michael Richards, who went on a tirade at a comedy show on a black man in the audience whom had been playfully heckling him. Richards shouted, "Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a f***ing fork up your ass. You can talk, you can talk, you're a brave motherf***er now. Throw his ass out! He's a nigger! He’s a nigger!"

Driskal concludes, "Well his career was pretty much over anyway. He just sort of put the nail in his own coffin. But we are very forgiving people. I wouldn’t be surprised if he suddenly reappear a few years from now. You see shock jock Don Imus was quick to get another job after his 'Nappy Head Hoes' comment about the girls basketball team a few years ago. He had another job only months later."

It seems that across the board, people have gotten our numbers. They figure as much hate and negative energy we put out amongst ourselves, they can jump in and do or say the same things and feel little to no repercussions. So in the end it does sometimes seem we give out those free passes for them to do it, which is why will only continue to happen.

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Mel Gibson