Sgt. John Young with Mobile Police Department has long been outspoken on things he is passionate about. One year ago, he went viral online after speaking at a press conference about youth violence in Mobile, particularly within the black community.
Young, a black man himself, said he doesn't want his anti-violence campaign to go stale. Now, he has a new idea to eliminate the "n-word" once and for all. He believes the word has dehumanized black people and those who use it are desensitized to the damage it can do.
"It was made popular during slavery to dehumanize black people so the slave masters would have little remorse in their treatment," he said. "Well, 30 years ago gangster rap music decided to embrace the word and called it normal and called it something good. Now, we have young black men referring to each other as that, and it dehumanizes them."
When it comes to using the word, Young said people are more likely to become whatever they call themselves. He said there is no reason to use the "n-word."
"There's no positivity to it," said Young. "You can't take something bad and say it's good. You can't say, 'Oh that's our word; no one else can use it.' No one should use it."
The mission is to remind young black men of the negative history, present and future of the "n-word." He wants all church organizations to make people think by holding funeral services for the word.
"This means we won't use this word anymore," he explained. "Not at conversations at home, not between friends, definitely not in public, not in music, not in movies. We are burying this word and with it, the negative connotation and the negative definition that is associated with it and what it truly means."
Young said when he was a child, using the "n-word" meant an automatic fight. He said he remembers a different time when it wasn't about hurt but avoiding the word at all costs. At times, parents would say the word inside the home in only extreme cases to explain to their children certain circumstances. He said the reaction to the word had changed so much over the years, but he would like others to see what previous generations have done so that it was not done in vain.
"My father's generation made so many sacrifices for me and my generation, and we're giving up on it," Young added. "You really mean to tell me that the Civil Rights Movement that was 60 years ago intended for black people to call one another that?"
Young said he refuses to have a victim mentality but, instead, a realistic viewpoint of issues he has seen firsthand within the black culture.
"I hate to hear these modern black 'black activists' always talk about how painful something is, but they use it themselves," he said. "So, they're just a bunch of weaklings, and they're making money off of it.
"… This perpetual victimization by the black mis-leadership class has confused black youth so much that they're constantly trying to be a victim even when they victimize themselves. Even when they are their own worst enemy, it is someone else's fault."
Since the 1990s, it seems there has been a shift in the use of the "n-word," which is what Young wants to kill. Now, people who do not want the word used are hesitant to approach someone who uses it to ask why they would do such a thing, Young said. Even if someone asks why a person is using the word about themselves, Young says that person can be attacked, and there is typically no honest discussion on the matter.
"Let's stop normalizing the word," he added. "Let's stop encouraging people to use the word. Listen, let's stop being offended when other people use it then. If you're going to normalize it and put it into everything that occurs in a black person's life, how can you be mad when someone else does the same thing? So, we bury a negative word and image and we end the hypocrisy of using the word. No one should be against this."
Provoking thought is a goal of the funeral services. One service is already in the planning stages, but Young hopes the initiative catches on and grows.
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