So the other day, I slapped a white man across the face because he said the n-word. Well, it was more of a muff-slap. I lived to tell the tale.
Background: I don’t fight. never been in a fight. @ me.
Setting: A kickback at a friend’s house in Cape Town, South Africa. mostly international college students. several dif rooms. it was roughly 60% white (European and white (euro?-)Americans), 40% Black (South African, Black American, a few other African countries represented too). music, conversation, smoke, drink, chill vibes. it was a farewell party, so there was some purpose in this particular social scene
So what had happened was:
living room full of white people, a few black girls and myself over by the aux. whoever had been playing music left and took their phone, so there was a brief lull between vibes. this tall white nigga (fight me) (really upset wordpress doesn’t have footnotes rn) (footnote here would say: ‘nigga’ as in the word used to describe somebody being annoying. ex: “this nigga..” (if you aint read that with the proper inflection you don’t speak AAVE so you prolly shouldn’t be saying nigga))
woah. got ahead of myself with those parentheses. where was I? oh yeah, this tall white nigga..
this tall white nigga, about 6’4, comes over and plugs in his phone. he’s a friend of some of the [Black] South Africans (i will later learn he too is South African) and some of the friendlier (connotation purposely ambiguous) white people. all good. actually extra good, i mean dude is volunteering to drain his battery and assume indefinite vibe-captain aux responsibilities so we are all chillin.
he plays something satisfying but not memorable. I think it was Migos, from their Culture. ironic lol. So we hypin him up, saying supportive shit n shit because that’s how we rock. you know positivity, melanin, magick.. the whole 9. then… he puts on “The Story of OJ.”
We, the Black girls, all get hype and express our approval of this song choice, BUT we are also aware of the fact that we are in mixed company. because, you know, failing to survey and take a mental note that a room is full of [the progeny of] your oppressors would be… shall i go with “unheard of”? or maybe just stupid? regardless: #hyperaware of #mixed #company
So I said to him “this is a good ass song! But you probably shouldn’t play it right now because ima have a problem if any of these white people say the n word.” EXACT QUOTE. I’m gesturing toward the other white
devils people in the room while i’m saying this. My friends second my motion to change the song so as to avoid inviting any opportunity for *rihanna voice* wild wild wild… racism.
his reply i don’t remember verbatim, because as soon as i heard him utter that first “nigga” my adrenaline started pumping. whatever it was he said, his tone and body language had this smug bewilderment like, oh, you ain’t know? and he began rapping the chorus himself. “light nigga dark nigga faux nigga real nigga / rich nigga po’ nigga house field nigga / still nigga.” thats fourteen niggas!!!!!!
So we, the Black girls, pick up our jaws (because obvi in that moment all of us got got) and are all saying different iterations of, “that’s not cool.” “aye, you really need to chill.” “yooo you wildin.” “stop.”
He keeps rapping, laughing at us. he is enjoying this. the word that i am thinking to describe him is one ironically the apartheid regime used to describe Steve Biko: agitator. He is agitating, itching, inciting rage in us. why? presumably so that he could have something that wasn’t his. presumably so he could do something he has no right to. presumably so that he could shit on us for whatever anti-Earth reasons motivate white people to want to devour the fucking world.
I step into his personal space. although he is tall, he is sitting. I am looking down on him. I say, “Stop saying that word.” He is now talking about how his Black friends let him say it, and how they even gave him a nickname.
“Wanna know what they call me? I’m tall. They call me T.A.N. Guess.” he teases. and the nigga is not fucking Toni Morrison so we all know exactly what the fuck its gonna be
I warn him, “No. Don’t do it. Don’t say-”
“Tall ass nigga.” pause. then he bursts out laughing.
Black girls still staring
I’m still in his personal space, and at this point either I’ma do something or I’m not. I feel like turning around and walking away would just be letting him get away with too much. I stepped in his face and said “don’t” and he did. he did and he laughed. who am I if I allow myself to be so blatantly disrespected? I’m thinking a half dozen things in this instant:
- how much is too much? should i allow this kind of disrespect?
- if not, what ima do? cause words not workin.
- i could slap him. she slapped that nigga on Dear white people. but she knew him. also that was a movie. but people stand up to people all the time, Layla, in real ass life. that’s def a thing.
- would that make more of a scene than I am comfortable with rn?
- how might this man react to getting slapped? will this 6’4 white man kill me if I slap him?
- what is honorable rn? to my ancestors and my people who have paid for this word in blood, what is honorable rn? is slapping this man, forcefully taking the respect that is rightfully mine, honoring them? or is preserving myself (my safety and arguably some aspect of integrity) honoring them?
Well, slap-muff. I slap-muffed him in his mouth as he fixed it to say “nigga” again.
Why, you ask?
Resistance is an action, not a position. It is an undertaking, not an orientation. I took a calculated risk, and I slapped that fool. Not so that he’d learn, not so that he’d change. I slapped that fool so that he would respect me. and nothing about me is divorced from my people, so what I do for me, for better or for worse, I do for us. and in this instance, that was slapping a mufucka.
It’s annoying. to always be tryna figure out what honors our ancestors well enough. to be searching for the righteous path. to decide between honor and your own safety. to decipher what is brave and what is foolish.
do we survive, taking the deepest of L’s, or do we go down swinging? do we play smart and make it to the end, gaining freedom for the price of our souls? or do we go all out in the early rounds, devastating the front lines of the enemy but perishing en masse swiftly thereafter, remembered to be only as mighty as we were impulsive and myopic?
kinda dramatic for a “first slap” story, eh?
This is the Habitual Be.