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Est. April 5, 2002
Feb 25, 2021 - Issue 854
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As many of you know by now, Morgan Wallace, the country music star, endured a torrential downpour of backlash after Wallace hurled the N-word all too often used by White people, NIGGER, to a Black person during a dispute. On February 2nd, TMZ posted a video showing Wallen loudly returning home with friends. A neighbor, apparently annoyed by the racket, started filming the scene and caught Wallen using the despicable racial slur.

He was dropped by several music stations, declared all but dead by many radio disc jockeys, and was dragged through social media with the force of a prisoner being dragged on a 120-degree gravel road, and a bumpy one at that. It was a fall of epic proportions.

Cumulus Media and I Heart Media, the country’s top two radio conglomerates, immediately pulled his music. SiriusXM (which owns the streaming service Pandora), Country Music Television, ceased playing his music on all television and digital platforms, and the Country Music Association employed similar action and reported: "BMI Sends Gospel Icon BeBe Winans On Outreach Mission To Epithet-Spewing Morgan Wallen". The Academy of Country Music has also prohibited him from being nominated for any awards for the time being.

To his credit, which is not saying much, considering the situation at hand, Wallace did not attempt to deflect blame, dance around the controversy, react defensively, or pass the blame onto others. He quickly took responsibility for his retrograde actions and did not attempt to offer any lame, half-assed, or pathetic excuses for what he said and did. He deserves some credit for admitting that he engaged in a ferocious level of idiocy.

It did not take long for some of Wallace’s fellow country musicians to weigh in on the controversy. While a few stated that his comments did not represent country music, not everyone agreed. Black female country star, Mickey Guyton, went to town on Twitter, declaring that the callous and bigoted antics of Wallace were the epitome of the genre. Moreover, she made it clear that, as a Black female country musician, she is inundated with vile and vehement racist comments on a daily basis.

As we all know, Morgan Wallace is hardly the only White person or other non-Black people to have spouted the word “nigger” in the public sphere. Paula Deen, Ted Nugent, and Bill Maher are just some of the other White men and women who have done so. Who can forget comedian Michael Richard’s vile, crude, and viciously racist rant in 2006? Arguably, the most memorable, and disgusting example is Michael Richards spewing his racist N-word diatribe toward a group of twenty-somethings who he felt were overly loud and “disrespectful” to him. Whether this was, in fact, the case, one thing is certain: Richard’s response was the epitome of racial hostility and disrespect.

What was noteworthy, downright disingenuous, though hardly surprising was that many bloggers were posting feverishly protective defenses of Mr. Wallace and touting the usual argument as to why it is permissible for Black people to use the word “nigger” not others. As can be imagined, the usual comments and whataboutisms were plastered all over various blogs:

  • The word is used in rap and hip-hop songs all the time.

  • What about Black people who call one another that word all the time?

  • Look at all the Black comedians who use it in their stand-up routines.

  • What about all the Black athletes who say the word?

And on and on and on.

My response to such misguided commentary is that, if you are so mentally and emotionally stunted, thickheaded and blinded as to why the White people or even other Black people should not use the word “nigger,” then I have to surrender to the fact that there is very little I can do to persuade you to think otherwise. You are a lost soul. There is likely very little one can do to change your retrograde mindset. Perhaps you are willfully ignorant about this issue, which, if the case, makes you more pathetic.

What is notable, at least to me (and I am sure to some other people as well) is the fact that the Nashville branch of the NAACP and gospel singer Be Be Winans met with Morgan Wallace to discuss with him why using the word “nigger” is unacceptable! Yes! You read this correctly! When I first became aware of this news, my reaction was WTF? Are you serious?!

To be sure, all of us human beings are flawed; none of us is perfect, and most people are worthy of some degree of redemption. But the fact is that Ms. Winans and the NAACP felt that it was worth their time and effort to attempt to persuade a grown-ass man, a post-millennial, nonetheless, who is not even 30 years old, a person who is a part of the most racially diverse and pluralistic group of Americans in the history of our nation, someone who must be aware of all forms of racial tolerance whether it be from television, music, literature or other avenues of popular culture.

Call me cynical, misguided, judgmental, but I am damn sure I am not that naive! Nor was I born yesterday or last week for that matter! Could I be wrong? Of course, I could. But I highly doubt it.

I do not doubt that both parties are well-intentioned in their efforts to what is considered as rehabilitating the seemingly racially bigoted Wallace in the hope that he will learn the error of his hate-filled ways, “turn a corner” and “see the light,” so to speak. However, truth be told, Morgan Wallace already knows all too well that the use of such a racially inflammatory word by a White or a non-Black person is pitifully insulting and dreadfully inappropriate. Please!

The esteemed gospel singer and members of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, it seems to me, would be better served directing their energies toward individuals who are genuinely sincere or causes that will produce long-term, tangible results. In this current era of political, social, and cultural upheaval and frantic economic despair, such altruistic efforts would undoubtedly be heartily welcomed. Guest Commentator, Dr. Elwood Watson, Historian, public speaker, and cultural critic is a professor at East Tennessee State University and author of the recent book, Keepin' It Real: Essays on Race in Contemporary America (University of Chicago Press), which is available in paperback and on Kindle via Amazon and other major book retailers. Contact Dr.Watson and BC.

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David A. Love, JD
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