90. N Word, M Words

The N Word and the M Words

I was on the phone with a cousin back in Oklahoma recently. I mentioned that gay marriage, in my opinion, was like interracial marriage – something we would all look back on in a few years and ask ourselves what the fuss was all about.

She said that interracial marriage was still a big fuss in Oklahoma. Bear in mind she is my age, so she may not speak for the present generation.

It’s no fuss in California where I live now. Everywhere you look you see black-white couples, and that pleases me.

The continuing abhorrence of interracial marriage has two parts. It is a fear that a (perceived) bad thing has been made legal, and it is a refusal to admit that the (perceived) bad thing has been going on for a very long time.

Consider, when asked about how his book Huckleberry Finn was doing, Mark Twain said, “I feel like the lady felt when the child came out white.” (Bernard DeVoto. Mark Twain’s America) Really? A world of understanding is hidden in that seemingly simple statement.

How about the nigger in the woodpile? You’ve never heard that phrase? Then you don’t live anywhere near the South. You can Google it, but it won’t tell you much. You will find it used in an anti-Lincoln cartoon during his election bid, and you will find various definitions to the effect that it refers to something not being what it seems.

Fine, but why this particular phrase? Why is that legendary black man hiding in that woodpile near the back door of the big house? What are his intentions? (As if the snarky way I phrased that didn’t tell you.)

The internet won’t say, but I will. The answer lies in when the phrase is used. It is occasionally used to cover general sneakiness, but it is always used when a child doesn’t look like his father.

Hmmm. So that’s why that black guy was sneaking around the back door.

The great fear is that black men will do to white women what white men have been doing to black women for four hundered years. It has nothing to do with the M word (marriage) and everything to do with the other M word (miscegination).

That black feller in the woodpile helps whites laugh at the hidden realization that white purity is not just endangered; it hasn’t existed for hundreds of years.


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