Representative Charlie Rangel, joined noted Zimmerman trial witness Rachel “Dee-Dee” Jeantel, in bringing racial slurs to the forefront of American consciousness once again. Of course they’re not the only ones, but the term “Cracker” is getting quite the workout lately in the American media. In discussing the Tea Party, Rangel said:
“It is the same group we faced in the South with those white crackers and the dogs and the police. They didn’t care about how they looked,”
Leaving the Tea Party aspect of it aside, I’m fascinated that the word cracker is getting so much of a recent work out in recent public statements. It’s generated a great deal of online commentary, revolving around is it a racial slur, is it a good racial slur, and should white people be offended by that racial slur?
When it comes to racial slurs, there is still a disparate impact between the use of what is now euphemistically referred to as the “N Word,” and virtually every other attempted racial slur. For Paula Deen, the use of the N Word 30 years ago effectively ended her career. For Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, he’s removed himself from the team and is now seeking counseling. Yes that’s right, counseling.
Of course there are a few outliers. Tim Allen recently gave an interview in which he argued that as a comedian, he should be allowed to say the N Word. At least so far, there seem to be little major reaction. Allen’s TV show, Last Man Standing, was renewed for another season. No Michael Richards treatment for him.
Rangel or anyone using the term cracker is just something I cannot seem to get worked up about. The truth is, there are not any good racial insults for white people. Oh there is quite a list of different terms, but they have all of the effectiveness of a wet firecracker. Oops, there’s that word cracker again. I was born in Georgia, and that was practically a State nickname. My father called me a Georgia Cracker when I was growing up there, and has yet to appear on the Today Show to give a sobbing an incoherent apology for it.
I think when it comes to derogatory racial slurs for whites; this is an area in which black people just cannot compete on an even playing field. As a white person, I just can’t be racially insulted. Cracker? Sorry Charlie (Rangel). I remember during the 1970’s TV sitcoms tried to tell us that honky was a racial slur, but I laughed and laughed whenever George Jefferson would call a white person honky. So call me an Ofay honky cracker if you want, I’ll just laugh. It just sounds funny.
Rangel could have spewed the term with all the ugliness, hate and vitriol of any KKK’er, and it still would have been more funny than insulting. Calling him the N-word however, would have probably been an emotional kick in the gut to him. So it’s not a fair fight. There isn’t a racial slur from his arsenal of hate that would affect me in the slightest, other than amuse me, but he’s a powerful Congressman, and the lowliest white guy, even a hobo or prisoner in lock-up, could emotionally wreck him with a few slurs.
That’s the real white privilege.