Wednesday, June 4, 2014

From "daddy o" to "nigger"

There's a black guy who drove taxi for dozens of years who grew up where I grew up, (Queensbridge) attended the same schools, knew some of the same people, drove at Dover in the eighties like I did  drove at Glenties,, and at Gotham Bronx (same location different owner).

Last spring he got into a terrible accident and got fired. He's been  homeless ever since. For his own reasons he refuses the shelter system. At 70 he"s proud to have survived the winter. He says people approach him with money.

He hovers near the garage, having been told that he is banished. 

We often talk about this and that. He asked me to post this piece.

"Daddy o" was US colored peoples' 1920's slang whose meaning was around the same as " dude" or "man". It faded, I think it was eclipsed for a while with "man." "Daddyo" resurfaced in the 1950"s, becoming a white beatnik/hipster term.

"Colored people" was the accelted polite name for African American people.

The ubiquity of the word "nigger" bothers my friend a lot. By his upbringing and code of honor heold.'d pretty much be obliged to initiate physical combat with a non black person who would use this word within his earshot.  But it's Blacks and Hispanics who seem to use it all the time. I wonder what hispanics Accomplish with this word. My mother wahed my mouth with Ajax one time when it came back to her that I had used this word and caused a neighbor girl to cry. I was five years 

It looks to me and to him that a majority of black people use the word which might once have been a neutral term but it became a fighting word and an ultimate insult in the late nineteenth to early twentieth  century. Why do black people use the word so much?

A declaration that it's been detoxified?

A statement of solidarity?

A dare?

A means of excluding others from a conversation?

A form of self deprecation?

The New York City Council actually banned the word.

Some soften it as "nigga" or "nigguh".

Tupac Shakur created an acronym "Never Ignorant About Getting Goals Accomplished" which I used i  a post about the problems black people have with New York taxi drivers.