"And we'll be dropping with our barber shop guys . . ."
"And later today we be popping-and-locking with our beauty shop girls . . ."
It's just embarrassing. Someone tell her to stop, tell her for the love of God, please stop.
But today featured John Ridley on Morning Edition. Discussing the Dr. Laura controversy.
Before this story aired, here's basically what I knew.
Dr. Laura was a right-winger. Dr. Laura was White. Dr. Laura was very unhappy with her life. I mainly knew her through the spoof on Fraiser.
And I knew she'd stepped down from her radio show after saying the n-word repeatedly. But I didn't even know if that was this week or last.
Dr. Laura really doesn't figure into my life. (She does figure into other African-American lives. I don't have a statistic but she was popular with two people at my current job so let's 2 out of every 38 black people I know listen to Dr. Laura. Either so they can get angry at her or because they agree with her.)
Warning, if you go to this link, you'll encounter the N-word repeatedly. This link. You were warned so don't click on it.
I didn't hear Dr. Laura and I didn't follow the story.
I've shared before that I'm one of the 70s children who got bused, that I was bused to an all White school and that there was a very mean kid (White) who called me the n-word repeatedly, made fun of me, physically threatened me, etc. (I've also pointed out that the principal came to my rescue and was a real hero to me. And he was also White.)
So I really don't want or need to hear the n-word. In comedy clubs, if that's all someone's got, I'm walking away from the table and out the door. By the same token, I avoid Quentin Tarantino movies because I can't stand hearing the word over and over.
So I was learning about Dr. Laura today, or trying to.
Dr. Laura is being called out by a caller (African-American) for something she said in their discussion (the caller and Dr. Laura) about the n-word and racism. And Dr. Laura agrees she said it and says she'll say it again and the caller interrupts her and Dr. Laura asks if she's going to be allowed to speak and -- we get the answer from NPR -- no, she's not. Because they never see fit to play what she actually says. Now they've played all around it and the n-word is in there over and over, so they owed it to her to play what she said if they wanted to be fair.
John Ridley says when he hears a White person say the n-word that's all he needs to know about them and it doesn't hurt him a bit.
John Ridley, how nice for you. We're not all so damn lucky.
He then wants to say that Jerry Seinfeld does jokes about Jewish people -- he does? -- and that's okay because he's Jewish. He uses that to argue that African-Americans can say the n-word but others can't.
On this, I'm like Dr. Laura. During one moment of an exchange NPR played the caller was telling her she couldn't use the word. And Dr. Laura said something like the woman's saying it's "restricted." Something like? I don't like the word, it is a very painful word for me, I'm not going to upset myself by listening to the story again or reading the transcript again (I listened this morning, I read the transcript before posting).
I agree with Dr. Laura, there's no such thing as a restricted word.
Our vocabulary should be free.
The real answer is for us to all stop using that damn word. It's a hurtful and hateful word. And maybe if you haven't been the only Black child in a room full of White people with one or more calling you that word, you don't know what the hell you're talking about?
I'm not a Dr. Laura fan. Were I on NPR as the 'expert,' I would've offered some criticism of her actions on that show and some of the caller.
John Ridley starts slamming her because she ridiculed the caller and 'doctors are supposed to help.' Uh, John, I don't think she's a real doctor. And have you ever heard her show? Everything that happened -- especially if the caller is a woman -- happened because the caller did something wrong. That's her shtick. (I believe they even parodied it on Everybody Loves Raymond with Debra and a radio host.)
He doesn't think the n-word is that big of a deal, Ridley says, and he obviously doesn't know Dr. Laura's show so why is he on as an expert?
In 2002, the only time I've listened to Dr. Laura, I was helping a co-worker who was retiring pack up her things. I heard a woman (with a nasal voice) on the radio in the next cubicle. Kenneth was listening to her. I'd never heard her before. A woman had called in and said she was at the end of her rope and she wanted to go back to work and put her child in day care because it was driving her nuts.
Dr. Laura lashed into her saying stuff like, "Why did you have the kid? Why'd you have it? If you didn't want to raise it, why did you have it?"
She did this whole bit about being not Dr. Laura but "my kid's mom." And she just ran this woman into the ground.
And that's what Dr. Laura does. She's not a happy person and the people who call her up are inviting an attack.
Should she have said the n-word?
I don't think anyone should.
That said, I don't think she said it the way the media's spun it.
Based on the NPR report -- which really didn't let her finish her thoughts -- she did not call the woman a n-word. She mocked the use of the n-word by repeating it over and over. She said you hear it all the time on HBO.
And she's right on that. All the little Honkeys loving them some of The Wire and now that idiot's new HBO show as well, it's not okay. He's White. He's writing the show. African-Americans are using the n-word (actors on the show) over and over.
I believe Dr. Laura's point was that you couldn't turn on HBO and not hear the word over and over. Now maybe she was talking about some of the African-American comics. Could be, NPR didn't let her finish her thought. But if she was talking about The Wire, etc. I agree with her.
They use that word over and over.
Dr. Laura did not say the term with hate. I know how it's said with hate because that's all I heard right after I was first being bused.
White people have an honest right to ask why they can't use the word if other people (African-Americans and a certain Asian-American female comic, you know who I mean) can.
And to say it's like Jerry Seinfeld making Jewish jokes? No, John Ridley, it's not. There are insulting words for Jewish people. Jerry Seinfeld does not use those words.
John Ridley brings up Jerry Seinfeld and even then still doesn't know what he's talking about.
It was an embarrassment.
Dr. Laura is saying she's being persecuted. I think she may be. John Ridley ridiculed the idea that her Constitutional rights were under attack. Well she said something some people didn't like and she lost sponsors due to an organized campaign. I didn't see it, but I understand Dr. Laura told Larry King about that and about how she was leaving the broadcast airwaves. Didn't NPR owe it to us to provide that part of the story instead of attempts at snarky little attacks?
I don't like Dr. Laura. Back in 2002, I asked Kenneth who that "crazy woman" was? He said he listened every day because she was so crazy and it made him laugh that every caller seemed to think he or she was going to be the one that Dr. Laura handed a gold star out to (when she generally attacked every caller).
I wish she hadn't used the n-word. I wish no one would use it. Others use it, I don't see why some get a pass and others don't.
I hate the word. It makes me cry, it makes me remember being so far from home and so scared. I don't like it. I wish no one would use it.
But, as reported by NPR, I didn't hear gross racism from Dr. Laura. I didn't hear that indicated she was a racist. I think she thought she was making some jokes and was about 20 years too late. (White Men Can't Jump was a hit how long ago?)
I'm sorry she feels attacked (and I think she was attacked by some). I think, however, reading her remarks or hearing them (as played by NPR), there's a mistaken belief that can take hold of, "Well she's asking and I can explain it to her." No, you can't. She is asking but the way the Dr. Laura Show worked is she asked the question, she listened to you and told you how wrong you were, told you what the answer was and then insulted you some more.
I don't care for Dr. Laura. But this wasn't Don Imus. Don Imus pissed me off. He said what he said with malice, that's the way I heard it. His remarks were with malice and targeted at specific women.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"