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Saturday, August 14, 2010

I'm Black and Therfore Own All Rights to say the N-Word.

Over nine million listeners—soon to double that amount by the time that I finish writing this essay—listened to Doctor Laura Schlesinger this week when she got into an argument on her radio show with a listener named Jade. For those unfamiliar with what happened, Doctor Laura—in an attempt to make a philosophical point that African-American comedians on HBO incessantly say the N-word without offending viewers—said the N-word repetitively. Although Jade told Doctor Laura that her use of the N-word bothered her, Doctor Laura still said it again. Furthermore, Doctor Laura stated that she was not calling anyone a N*g*er, that she was just making a point.

Now hold on. This is Doctor Laura, an educated and presumably very intelligent woman of some renown in the T.V psycho-babble entertainment word who is regarded by many to be a leader in that profession. She felt that she was doing the right thing. Wrong. Just because an African-American freely calls out the N-word doesn’t mean that they are right to do so—which is what Jade also told Dr. Laura before being rudely interrupted. One would think that someone of the stature of Doctor Laura would have learned from Michael Richards—formerly known as Kramer from TV’s Seinfeld—when he screamed out the N-word in public. Doctor Laura should’ve known better.

Doctor Laura’s argument that she should be allowed to say the N-word freely as long as she’s not calling anyone a N*g*er is patently ridiculous and it made me wonder. Before that now awfully revelatory call from Jade, has she ever freely said the N-word in the presence of friends of like colour? For sure she would not have freely said the N-word in the presence of her bodyguard—who happens to be black? Considering that she’s a public figure, had she done that, I doubt Doctor Laura would’ve gotten away without causing a media stir that she wished to have avoided at this moment.

Doctor Laura has since apologized for her careless use of the N-word. I imagine that she’s had time to listen to the broadcast, to reflect and become more self-aware of her public role and admit that she has made a serious ethical error. I’m curious to know at which point Doctor Laura realized this. Was it the moment when she deviated from the topic and talked about President Obama and interjected that African-Americans voted him into power just because he had more melanin than his challenger? Was it when she accused Jade of being hypersensitive because Jade’s neighbour kept stepping on the line by obsessively singling out African-Americans in every conversation? Or was it when she interrupted Jade as she was about to mention that the N-word was thrown about in her house by family as though she was absent?

After having listened to the broadcast several times I’ve concluded that Jade had every right to be bothered by what went on in her household. Accusing Jade of being hypersensitive was insulting and demeaning because Jade stated that her dilemma had gone on for quite some time before she had reached the point of frustration.

As for bringing up President Obama, not only was it off topic but Doctor Laura herself was being racially insensitive when she said that blacks only voted for him because he was black. I’ll admit that if I was an American citizen, I would’ve voted for Obama, not because he’s black but because I feel that he’s more qualified to lead the country. Had it been Hillary Clinton versus Ms Condoleezza Rice or worse yet, Michael Steel, I would’ve voted for Mrs Clinton. Please note, that in the above reference to President Obama, I do not accuse Doctor Laura of being a racist, but that she was racially insensitive. Furthermore, the broadcast hasn’t convinced me that she is a racist, and I am saying this having repeated listened to it. Doctor Laura could have helped Jade had she listened to her more attentively!

Russell Brooks is the author of the upcoming thriller, Pandora's Succession, to be released in the Fall of 2010. Visit for details.

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  1. Dear Sir,
    This event certainly makes for blog fodder and incense. This entire matter, use of the N word, has historically been given to heated debate. I feel it would have better served the listener if DrL had shown the respect due the sensitivity while attempting to make her point. DrL is Jewish, I would have like to have seen her use that in her analogy. I've listened to DrL for more than 10 year, I will continue. I hope that this moment causes her to reflect and come up with an observed point though I doubt she will ever broach the matter on air.

    I have found myself in the callers position many a time and I am always irascible in those instances. Perhaps the questions are not racist per se but they are generally absurd and/or shortsighted. I wish instead of the shortsightedness, all persons would pause and reflect prior to broaching.

    Warm regards,

  2. I post my essays also on myspace. Allow me to share what another reader wrote.

    Okay first, retractions are meaningless. When you make a statement publicly as Dr. Laura Schlessinger did, then that is your true opinion coming through and you truly aren't sincerely apologizing, you're making an apology that the owners of the radio program demand you make. When anyone in the public eye makes a retraction/apology it is to save a job or save face via a publicist's suggestion or a demand of the media outlet. Notice the tone and inflection in her voice, she was merely reading what the owner of the radio outlet demanded and there was no sincerity in her voice.

    Second, Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a conservative and tends to lean toward the far right. In fact her radio program, while it is to be a call-in program that deals with social and psychological issues has often been used as a pulpit to express her extremely conservative views on social and political issues, more than to help people who have genuine issues and need non-biased advice. Furthermore, she is known for being rude, cruel, demeaning, and direct with those that call-in to her show; Her website says that her show "preaches, teaches, and nags about morals, values and ethics."

    Third, she's a extremely conservative Republican who presents to her audience one face and is known in her personal life to live quite opposite to her preachings and comments on her radio program. Case in point she is hard on people who either are unfaithful to their spouse or those that have affairs with someone who is married, yet she herself has had affairs with married men, such as Bill Ballance who actually launched her radio career.

    Fourth, Dr. Laura Schlessinger's show originally started as a call-in program that dealt with relationship and sex advice and had a much larger audience than the 9 million she has now. In the last decade plus though, the show has lost affiliates and over half its audience because her show had shifted from relationship and sex advice to lecturing on morals, religion, and ultra conservative politics; even referencing Jewish laws to solve moral dilemmas raised by callers to her radio program, until she abandoned her Jewish faith and became a conservative Christian several years ago and began using that faith in her advice.

  3. Continued...

    Fifth, given her history of behavior, I'd say Dr. Laura Schlessinger is extremely prejudicial; another reason why her apology and retraction of her used of the "N" word is insincere. Dr. Schlessinger on many occasions has referred to members of the gay and lesbian community as "biological errors" ... who should remain "closeted and be afforded no rights that non-biological error heterosexuals should be afforded" and under no circumstances should they be allowed to "have children" because "they would only give birth to more biological errors." She also added, "they should not be permitted to adopt children because all homosexuals are pedophiles." In fact, she even added that, "a huge portion of the male homosexual populace is predatory on young boys." She retracted this also, but only when her radio program was shut down. But that retraction was insincere also as she continued to make comments calling all homosexuals "deviants, aberrations, biological errors, disordered, and dysfunctional." Again, she had to apologize by making a retraction and formal apology.

    Sixth, going back to her hypocrisy, she attacked renowned journalist Barbara Walters for posing naked for photographs calling her "immoral, unethical, and no better than a porn star;" that is until she did an episode of The View and Barbara release nude photos Dr. Laura Schlessinger had posed for herself. She also had on her radio program attacked Barbara Walters for having an illicit affair with a married man, calling her behavior "immoral" and Barbara retaliated by showing evidence of the numerous illicit affairs with married men Dr. Schlessinger had had.

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  8. continued...

    Seventh, she has fraudulently paid guests over the years to appear on her program repeatedly and when caught by the New York post and others, was forced to take a full page add in Variety to apologize for it.

    So when you look at the fact she apologizes when forced to and then continues to spout racist and bigoted remarks like use of the "N" word and the aforementioned incidences the woman is clearly an extreme conservative hypocrite and a hack in the psychological community. In fact her doctorate degree is not even in psychology, but in physiology; all she has is a BS in psychology and worked as a family and marriage counselor only briefly many decades ago.

    I'm sorry, but I do not believe her apology was sincere and her conduct with this caller is reprehensible at best. I'd like to see her program pulled from the air because if you look at her history she is only going to continue being bigoted and rude.

    As for this call, clearly Dr. Schlessinger is a racist and only deemed it racially insensitive because as a religious conservative she herself is racist; given her history of comments and the fact that she ignorantly commented that black people only voted for Obama because of his skin color. Making this statement is the same as suggesting that black people are too ignorant to understand politics; which any one with some intellect knows is not the case; Dr. Schlessinger is just perpetuating the common racist views of FOX news and the vast majority of conservative republicans who are racist and bigoted.

    As for the "N" word, first it derives from the Latin word "Niger" which is the word for the color black. Second it is an offensive word that I do not believe anyone, regardless of background should be using anymore. However, in the Black community and other cultural communities it is used by certain groups as she noted as a term of affection, but that doesn't make it right. It's just like that one boy so eloquently stated in a video you shared some time ago that we all, regardless of skin color and ethnic background, need to drop from the language entirely. It's time we evolve as human beings and stop being bigoted and racist and start embracing one another for our differences.

    On another note, President Obama, is an educated man of bi-racial background, and qualified for the job of President, not because of his skin color, but because of the man he is and the education he has attained. People voted for him because conservative Republicans have done nothing but allow religion and prejudices, and corruption to run rampant in politics for far too long, and people wanted change. It's time we leave religion out of politics, bigoted opinions out of politics, and so what is just for all people, regardless of sex, race, religion, creed, and ethnic background.