Why Can’t I Say “Negro”? Charlie Hebdo and MLK

martin luther king

Why Can’t I say “Negro?”

And Why My European-African-American Friend Doesn’t Qualify for a United Negro College Fund Scholarship

Why can’t I say “Negro”? Martin Luther King wanted a society in which we are judged by the content of our character. Why should I be afraid to use a specific word because of the color of my skin?

Martin Luther King said “Negro” sixteen times in his “I Have a Dream” speech. But I’m not allowed to say it.

What gives?

It’s the curse of Humpty Dumpty. (Everyone knows that Humpty Dumpty said “A word means what I choose it to mean.” Fewer remember that he then asks: Who “is to be master?”)

He who controls the language, that’s who.

The fetishization of language over meaning, and the Marxist-Orwellian twisting of words to mean something different, even the exact opposite of what they actually mean, has very odd results. I can’t say I donated $100 to the United Negro College Fund because I think negroes should go to college. Nor can I say I donated $100 to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People because I firmly believe, in my good natured and Christian heart, that colored people should advance.

The growing acceptance that self-proclaimed and self-described greivance groups can bully everyone else into accepting that words mean whatever they want them to mean (“Negro” was a proud and noble word, and – poof voila – now it’s an insult?) is dangerous. It’s a way of making everyone else feel off-balance, guilty, and short-circuiting thought.

Forsooth, our language doth changeth.

It’s not that I can’t stand change. Natural change is natural. Marxist-Orwellian change, on the other hand, prevents us from thinking, and damages us, too.

Sometimes in a way that’s impossible to deny.

Take my school friend. Let’s call him TC. That’s not his name, nor even his initials. But I’m in a frivolous mood.

He’s not, though. He’s a bit grim these days, actually. He’s from Africa. A very poor country there, too. Even in that poor country, his family is very poor. They lost everything they once owned.

Well, not lost. They know where everything is. It’s just not theirs anymore.

Still, ever the optimistic chap, TC feels he’d like some money for college. So, he Googles.

In the FAQ section of the United Negro College Fund’s website, they ask “Does UNCF help only African Americans?” His ears perk up. What,  a scholarship just for me? His eyes gleam. Ah, America, the land where dreams come true.

Well, maybe some dreams. But not Martin Luther King’s dream. At least not yet.

Here’s what it says:

UNCF’s largest scholarship program, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, supports Hispanic American, Asian/Pacific American and Native American students as well as African Americans.

They don’t allow themselves to mention the (white) elephant (missing from) the room, nor even the actual name of their organisation.

Uncle Nordic’s Clown Follies? Nowhere to they even admit what the UNCF stands for.

My friend, born in Zimbabwe, came to America for school after his parents’ farm was stolen by a corrupt colonel (who, incidentally, ruined the farm, as he had no experience farming, thus putting all of its…um…African-African workers out of work.) This was allowed, under Zimbabwean law, because five generations back, my friend’s parents’ great great great great (etc.) ancestors had come from Europe. (Making him…um…European-African?) My friend, now, is, literally – more than most so-called African-Americans – African-American – he’s got the accent to prove it – but he’s no Negro. So no money from the United Negro Coll – sorry, the U.N.C.F, (which doesn’t mention the word “Negro” in its entire site.)

Even if they don’t say Negro, though, it seems it’s all they think about. You can tell, from the contorted efforts they go to to avoid even mentioning their own name. The United NEGRO College Fund. Don’t think about pink elephants! (You thought about pink elephants, right?) Clearly, as they scrub every square inch of their website for any trace of that dreaded word, they must have been thinking of nothing else. Negroes!

Yet without that word, how could they explain to TC, an African-American in the most literal sense, that they will never give him a Gates Millennium Scholarship? What words could they use to explain it?

In theory, they could say it’s because he’s not a Negro.

But they won’t. (But they’ll THINK it!)

Martin Luther King said:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

They’re all grown up now. Is that the world they live in?

Not a rainbow’s chance on a cold dark night.

The content of my Zimbabwean friend’s character would have no relevance if he applied for one of those scholarships. Does he need the money more than the son of two American doctors, three of whose grandparents are white, but one of whom is black?

Probably. But he’s not going to get it.

Don’t get me wrong. I can understand why such an organisation once existed. But they’ve adopted too many irrational and counter-productive ideas, methods, and doctrines.

It’s time to change.

I think the world would be less confusing if people spoke clearly, rather than using Marxist mind games, or Orwellian word games, to further delay the day when Martin Luther King’s dream can at least begin to come true.


Austin Washington has written what reviewers are calling “The best book ever written about the Father of Our Country”. Further info – and a few cool videos – here: http://www.AustinWashington.com/George