My Response to David Foster: Jew ‘fro or no Jew ‘fro You Cannot Use the Word “Nigga”, Yo! ~ Jazmyn Burton

Via on Apr 20, 2013

Your choice to quote black scholars to support your intellectual argument for the use of the word “nigga” leads me to believe that you’re a studious fellow.

So I figure you’re, at the very least, familiar with the concept of trauma being embedded in one’s DNA.

If not, let me hip you to some life game playa (I hope you don’t mind my use of Ebonics here). According to scientific research, trauma is not just psychological, but biological and even inheritable.

According to a study:

“Embedded within the DNA sequence are epigenetic regulators, chemical marks that control which genes are expressed and which are not. The heretical proposition is that these epigenetic marks can be transmitted along with the DNA. Findings indicate that psychological conditions, such as trauma and stress, also leave an epigenetic mark.”

Make no mistake—the psychological marks of enslavement are deep. So deep that even imagining you using the word “nigga” makes me itch.

Maybe you were a black man in a prior life, though I doubt it. Because if you were, the collective ancestral pain of the Middle Passage would be encoded in your DNA, and you would have a better understanding of the pain that this word has caused—and continues to cause—especially when it comes from the mouth of one who is perceived to be white.

Even if you mean it with all the love you have in your heart chakra, it doesn’t hit my ear that way.

If we’re going to get all quantum about it, it is quite possible that somewhere along the time continuum I’m lighting the kindle of a Holocaust oven while you’re somewhere being hung from a noose.

However, our understanding splits at your failure to acknowledge the universality of ancestral pain. Unlike you, I have been branded with it, for lack of a better term. For that reason, if it were ever to become culturally relevant to use the word “kike” in Jewish circles I’d probably pass.

Because brotha’, I don’t want to hurt you anymore than I already have in this life or the next.

As a Buddhist, you realize that parts of our past lives follow us. Part of the reason I practice yoga is to remove some of these markers from my DNA, to confront who I was, who I am in this incarnation and learn how to continue moving forward…but I’ll save that for another blog.

Make no mistake son, what you call hip-hop has descended into the category of a global product, packaged by a destructive, European dominated global economy that overwhelming destroys all of the cultures upon which it descents to do business. The overuse of the word “nigga” in hip-hop is not a sign of social progress—to me, it’s a sign that even our mistakes are for sale.

Yes, your ancestors did “pretty much the worst things in the world to (my) ancestors” and yes my life “has been more challenging than (yours) because of that.” But do get that your incarnation as a white male came with a level of privilege and perceived historical connection.

As far as I’m concerned, you cannot use the word—and you will continue to have to answer for the sins of your father until you work to reverse the global degradation that your European ancestors set in motion and continue to support.

Although you claim to be a cultural swagger-jacker Buddhist and a lover of all things hip-hop, whose Jew ‘fro makes him authentic, you reason like a white man.

 

jazmyn yoga2Jazmyn Burton, a mother, writer and Philadelphia-based yogini, has immersed herself in the physical and spiritual practice of yoga for nearly a decade. Along her journey, she found that she was often the only woman of color in her studio classes. In an effort to bring more women of color to the practice she founded Yeye yOga, a weekly community class open to yogini of all shapes, sizes and colors, that stresses the importance of black women regaining control of their mental and physical health. In an attempt to start the process of saving the world one enlightened soul at a time, she recently enrolled in a 200 hour teacher training with Beyond Asana. Read about her yoga journey at jazmynyoga.com.

Like elephant enlightened society on Facebook.

 

Ed: Bryonie Wise

Source: Uploaded by user via Diënne on Pinterest

 

About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive. Questions? info elephantjournal com

1,048 views

Appreciate this article? Support indie media!

(We use super-secure PayPal - but don't worry - you don't need an account with PayPal.)

13 Responses to “My Response to David Foster: Jew ‘fro or no Jew ‘fro You Cannot Use the Word “Nigga”, Yo! ~ Jazmyn Burton”

  1. lilrongal says:

    Thank you. You said everything I was feeling but was too emotionally charged to write myself. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. David Foster says:

    Well… I understand where you're coming from. I too became quite charged while reading your rebuttal. Why? Because your last sentence says it all: You’re a racist… an educated, spiritual-minded, sensitive racist. Don’t feel bad, it’s common, and I’m sure on the subjective scale of racism you’re very low. I know white people who are very kind, vote liberally, and would never hurt a fly, but also are inseparable from certain dated philosophies and narrow-minded beliefs that serve only their ego-driven, present comfort zones. It’s cool. If I were a black woman from Philadelphia I’d probably be a little bit racist too.

    The subject matter of your argument goes incredibly deep, but continues to ignore points in my own by side stepping them with a scientific history lesson that sounds and looks intelligent and is sure to heighten [some] readers' sensitivity to your plight, but is still very much irrelevant and/or already refuted in my article:

  3. David Foster says:

    Your suggestion is that I should basically pay a fee for not having to suffer with this alleged genetic imprint in DNA that you do, and that fee is prohibition from the [non-hateful] use of a word, because that word was originally born in a hatred that scarred you forever. Just so we’re clear and in agreement: Said prohibition = lack of freedom = “tick for tack,” “eye for an eye justice” etc. (in spite of the fact that 400 years of slavery for one word is probably not equal exchange).

    You say I have white privilege, again reinforcing the mandate that such privilege must come with some kind of lack of freedom as well – that I must “answer for the sins of my father” (wow! This surely confirms that you either don’t believe in Reincarnation, or you believe that we all must always have been the same color… ha!). But I know many black people who have had the same “white privilege” in life that I have. I also know many non-black people who have faced great adversity, discrimination, prejudice, etc. Again… this is not to suggest that blacks and minorities don’t have it harder in general, but let’s not lose sight of the debate at hand. My point and question is obvious: Should the most spoiled, privileged, opportunistic black person in America be permitted to use that word? Should Hispanics? If the answer is, “Yes, any Hispanic with African ancestry,” then how would we determine which individuals are permitted? Surely there are many Cubans, Argentines, and Brazilians who lack African ancestry. Will we just judge based on a certain degree of melanin in each individual’s pigment? Okay, great… So our philosophy will come from “tick for tack justice,” and determination will be based on quantity of melanin. Brilliant! See that: Your wall may look like a bunch of bricks but it’s really just cardboard painted red.

  4. David Foster says:

    Your statement linking hip hop culture to a European owned business world that destroys all culture it descends upon is like the rest of your essay: Powerful-sounding on the surface but wholly obsolete in its side stepping of my argument. Bottom-line me: Since the birth of hip hop (and concurrent popularization of the word) has black peoples’ overall status improved in our country? Oh, okay, thanks. Again… not to suggest it can’t get better, and not to suggest that hip hop and “nigga” are directly responsible for this improvement (though I believe the former definitely is (which by association the latter actually ironically is as well)); but we must agree that since things are better, that the word’s widespread use cannot be accused of having the opposite effect.

  5. David Foster says:

    You claim to have greater sensitivity to the plight of the Jews than mine is to black people because of your presumed omission of “kike” were it to become a staple in your own subculture’s vernacular; but how can you possibly imagine that experience? What if Jews had created a subculture that berthed yoga and modern spirituality and you became a member of that subculture, and many Jews loved and embraced you (as well as people of all other races)? What if their women began using “kike” lovingly amongst each other and towards you to identify “female,” instead of “Jew?” What if at the same time you had organically adopted every other element of dialect of their subculture as your own? Sure, we could all give you a gold star for your hypersensitivity to the past were you to opt to stubbornly continue to repress usage of the word… but could you really be considered wrong if you chose not to?

  6. David Foster says:

    How, how, how, can you redefine a word, call other people it under its new definition and then tell those same people they cannot use it? The problem is that the over-serious, [understandably] bitter, stubborn black people like yourselves got screwed in the situation (not really, but from your own perspective at least) by two other groups of black people: 1) The uneducated ignorant who mostly lack principles or cultural passion or identity, yes – but also and maybe ironically: 2) The truly educated and progressive – not those who “wear the uniform” of educated and progressive – but the genuinely advanced black people (MY peoples) who have always seen it as I do without having had to verbalize or intellectualize it. This brings me full circle:

    You say I reason like a white man. Ouch! This must mean that Randall Kennedy does as well, as do all of my black friends (two of whom are extremely Afro-centric, highly educated women from New York (not Pennsylvania)).

    We will obviously probably never convince each other. I just hope you realize I am, and always have been (what prompted me to write the original essay) asked to repress what I perceive as a completely harmless instinct based on my skin color. You call this justice. You say it is NOT harmless – that it harms YOU. I say that is the choice of your narrow mind to be “harmed,” and that the present state of the macroscopic external environment in contrast to its prior state proves its inherent harmlessness – and that you are wrong. To you I am wrong. Each of us obviously perceives the other as functioning on a lower frequency. But much like your suggestions of DNA imprints, my white man reasoning, and lack of incarnations as a black man, this is all impossible to prove. Peace.

  7. David Foster says:

    what about ASIANS or ARABS?! They didn't oppress you, nor were they oppressed by me. Hmmmmmmm…. dicey! does it depend on address and experience again? I know some Asians from Brooklyn and Queens that'll knock someone out, no hesitation. I also know Asians who are the kindest people on the planet and would lose to a little girl. Should they like submit an application and life resume to determine permission? Based on stereotypes of penis size I don't think they should be allowed… cuz then that's so unfair to me! But then again, i do have to answer for my father's sins of imprinting your dna, so it's all good.

    Btw, if you wanna work on purging those imprints u can holla at me: I have a Masters degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine (that's where i learned how to reason like a white man), where the treatment principles of Five Element Acupuncture can address past life issues. But if you're not comfy getting treated by me I can recommend someone less white… Oh, and the Eagles suck. Go Giants! 4 rings yo'

  8. tali says:

    Thank you, Jasmyn, for posting your rebuttal. It appears that Mr. Foster is neither owning nor examining his own privilege. And judging from his recent comments to your post, is overly defensive and using rather thin arguments to vehemently stress his opinion (which is just an opinion). If I were him, I would engage you in one of those open and honest dialogues to which he refers, rather than rant about how you will probably never convince each other of your perspectives. He doesn't seem to understand that his essay is riddled with micro-aggressions (as are his comments). It's too bad. A White man who recognizes and owns his own privilege could really be helpful. I'm sorry. And I really appreciate your words. Thank you.

  9. Erica says:

    Jazmyn – I appreciate that you wrote this article. I was so appalled by his hubris that I could not find a voice for my thoughts. Great job pulling yourself together if you felt even remotely close to what I was feeling when I finished that nonsense.

    I'm happy that you've chosen to ignore his comments, which further evidence his very deep-seated anger and his overly-defensive need to be right.

    I wish us all peace and an increased capacity to forgive and love one another.

  10. purplelilac says:

    "you will continue to have to answer for the sins of your father until you work to reverse the global degradation that your European ancestors set in motion and continue to support."

    If he's a jew…and you're African….call me crazy….but isn't it you who have to answer for the sins of your father….no? News flash black folks! White europeans aren't the only ones in history who ever owned slaves. In fact! Most cultures have! It's part of our (humanity's) great heritage! Now I don't have a dog in this fight…i don't use the word 'nigga' because i'm not comfortable with it….but! If that's true (what i and a lot of history books are saying about slavery being ubiquitous) then almost anyone – all cultures! – have the "social right" to say nigga! Because, let us not forget, the jews were slaves long before and for a lot longer than black people ever were. And who enslaved them??? Black people!

    That said, in my humble opinion, NO ONE should have to "answer for the sins of their fathers." That precedent would leave the entire world – every culture (see above) in a cyclical and constant state of pathetic apology for things they
    never did and never had a say over. And leave those who aren't apologizing in a bitter state, expecting apology from strangers.

    On the contrary, perhaps the evolution of language from one of history's eras of slavery – the effort to change a negative word of hatred into a positive word of brotherhood that's embraced by all – is a sign of a cuture's ability to truly forgive and to be at peace with one another.

Leave a Reply