Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dr. Laura Needs Therapy

Cord Jefferson at The Root.com argues that Dr. Laura's use of N---- was not racist.  Ordinarily I would agree with Cord.  Here, I'm more ambivalent.  Dr. Laura was responding to a question by a black caller who wanted advice about getting her white husband to be more sensitive to racial jokes and stereotypes expressed by his friends and family in her presence.  The irony is that this black woman, who is clearly comfortable reaching across the racial divide, instead of getting advice was treated to repeated uses of N---- and got a lecture about black people being to hypersensitive about race. 

I think Dr. Laura thought she could cure us of our hypersensitivity by saying N---- as many times as she could get away with it.  In this context it is not the repeated use of N---- that was troubling, there were other problems.  There was the "my bodyguard is black and he is my dear friend" trope to justify an underlying argument that one can employ racial stereotypes without being racist.  This is reminiscent of the "my best friend is black so I can say whatever I want about black people and you can't say I'm racist" reasoning.  And Dr. Laura's coup de grace is her argument that over 90% of black people voted for President Obama, which I think was offered to show that black stereotypes and generalizations are legitimate because they're true facts.  Of course she forgot that over 90% of black people supported President Clinton.  I wouldn't say that Dr. Laura's a racist, but she clearly has issues with race.

I think Cord is clearly right that black folks need to stop going ballistic everytime someone says N-----.  But, in this context, if a few black people went ballistic against Dr. Laura's repeated use of the word, I can understand why.

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