Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shealita's Slip

....OR was it Shelita's schtick?

Early on during Daniel Nardicio's WFAG Radio show, Daniel had Bianca Del Rio and another drag queen, Shealita BaBay on the air. Shelita made a joke comparing 2 places. To be honest, I wasn't really paying attention to it, but I did hear the supposed punchline with Shealita Babay saying about the 2 places that, "They're both full of niggers".

Now, after my recent incident in the posts of "Sex, Then Violence Resurrection", you would think I would fly off the handle. Yet, I did not. It's simple to explain why I didn't lose my stack. In that blog post, I knew the person to a degree that I believed that I had no need for my guard to be up against hurtful words like "nigger". In this instance, I just met Shealita, so he was a stranger to me, which meant that guard was up, therefore him saying "nigger" had no effect on me.

They went to break then Daniel said he wanted me to respond to that comment. Of course he did, especially since others did gasp at such a punchline, plus it turned out being that I was the only Black person there. My initial thought was, "Fuckin' great! I'm trying to take a break from being on the soapbox, and here I go again. Have I made myself a lightning rod for raical controversy?"

Part of this frustration was the fact that during this weekend is when I was writing a piece for MOC Blog regarding the portrayal of Blacks and Latinos in gay porn, so I was trying to limit my soapbox standing to just that post, and nothing more. But thanks to Shelita slip of the tongue, my plans abruptly changed.

Once back on the air, Daniel asked me how I felt about what Shealita said. My response was that I let words have little effect on me, and when it comes to the word "nigger", I look at it the way Chris Rock once said in an HBO special, "There are Black folks, and there are niggers", and I am not a nigger. While I made it clear that I wasn't affected by such a punchline, I am well aware that this response might not be satisfactory to many Blacks who were listening and therefore became offended. That's why I'm using this post to address the matter. Because go into any more detail at that moment on the air could have easily had me unintentionally trying to make Daniel's radio show into "Tré's radio show", and I have always been one respectful of other's time and space, so that karma will have my time and space be respected in return.

Let me start by making clear that I can't speak for every Black person, so my replies won't make everyone happy. And I really don't care if they do or not. For the best I can do is explain my prospective, and try seeing and explaining how other Blacks may feel about a situation to those who need to understand the offense that could have been taken.

I did feel a twinge when Shealita made that remark, but it wasn't for myself. It was all the Blacks and racially sensitive non-Blacks listening who don't have that defense mechanism against cruel words that I have. I've always had that sort of psychic link to people where I pick up others' emotions, be they near or far. And I'm sure with the history behind that word, there were enough people sensitive to that word's history that feeling some kind of rage in the air from it being said was inevitable - starting with the people there at Daniel's house who knew that Shealita crossed a line by saying it.

However, call it a suspicious mind or what you will, I can't help but wonder would that chorus of gasp been as loud as it was had I not been there? I'm sure there would have been gasps, and I'm sure the joke would not have been allowed to go on unreprimanded, but I'm compeeled to ask, were the gasps I heard born from real emotions of shock and disapproval, or were they put on simply because after such a bad joke, my presence as a Black man became the elephant in the room?

While every drag queen has a schtick, and Shealita's being the portayal of a Southern Christian racist female, use of the word "nigger" by a White person is not amusing. He might be able to get away with it on Fire Island with its mostly White population, but the fact is the word "nigger" is offensive, no matter what color the person is who says it. Even when I have used it here in some blog posts, it is NEVER meant to be comical - it is meant to sting with offense. With that in mind, I think it would be best if Shelita found an schtick using language that didn't border on such a fine line. Because the reality is you can't really do a gig in New York City saying things like that. Here - that could be down right dangerous.

I don't know what kind of response came from listeners hearing Shealita say "niggers". Even if there was no response at all, I know my guts makes me feel the anger of the non-racists listeners. And I hope Shealita caught at least a whiff of that vibe as well.

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