Free Speech?

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  • The question I’m about to ask might raise a few eyebrows. Here it is: When it comes to issues of race, should we censor ourselves when speaking to those outside of our race?
         
    Let’s start with record-breaking Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson. Johnson, now a commentator for the BBC, recently said: "Difficult as it was to hear, slavery has benefitted descendants like me. I believe there's a superior athletic gene in us."
         
    Then there’s Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman who must have been trying to ‘one up’ Johnson when he, in an NPR interview, said this about our nation’s president: "America's first black president hasn't arisen yet. [Obama] is America's first mixed-race president."
         
    Okay, let me clarify something. Our current president is a black man. Yes, he is mixed as well but, that said, Barack Obama knows he’s black, his barber knows he’s black, his African family knows he’s black, and the cops know he’s black.
         
    Maybe, just maybe, Morgan Freeman and Michael Johnson should have kept those comments in-house.
         
    Finally, there’s the soft-spoken Chris Rock who set off some national fireworks of his own with his controversial July 4th tweet, "Happy white peoples independence day, the slaves weren't free but I'm sure they enjoyed the fireworks…"
         
    Well, "Mr. Everybody-Hates-Chris" has done it again. He’s managed to make a provocative point on race in his own unique way, echoing Frederick Douglas’ classic speech, "What to the slave is the 4th of July?"

    Maybe, just maybe, Rock’s tweet was a timely reminder of the checkered history and ongoing challenges of issues of race in our country. Maybe it was a reminder that, whether we celebrate the 4th or not, we, as African descendants, have had a unique experience that cannot merely be folded into the larger American historical experience.
         
    But back to my larger question: “Should we censor ourselves when speaking to those outside of our race?” Should comments like these from Johnson, Freeman and Rock have been kept within our community or blasted over national media for everybody to weigh in on?
         
    Not an easy answer. On one side, we have a long and tragic history in this country of having our race used against us.
         
    On the other, we recognize that talking about issues of race and attempting to build bridges of understanding, are important and necessary steps toward progress. I doubt we’d have a black president right now (no matter what Morgan Freeman says) if we had not had such provocative and often uncomfortable discussions on race.
         
    But I want to hear what you think. Text us here at 64-64-64 to weigh in on the question, “Should we censor ourselves when speaking to those outside of our race?”
         
    I’ll leave you with these words from Plato: “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools speak because they have to say something.”
         
    Until next time, this is Stephanie in love and hope.

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    13 thoughts on “Free Speech?

    1. “Should we censor ourselves when speaking to those outside of our race?” Stephanie, such an articulate question.

      The question then becomes, should we NOT censor ourselves!? We have people of color who run around saying what people who lack color would love to say but dear not say it. Allen West of Florida and Herman Cain (sp) are two fresh examples of “Negros gone wild”. Saying any and everything to exploit the scenes and enflame the fool-hearty! To sensor or not to censor, that is the question! I agree, in discussion of race, say what must be said to quell the angry; however, in arguments of race say nothing at all and just listen. You cannot argue with stupid/ignorance and to cure stupid/ignorance you must educate. I say censor yourself when you are in company, but speak your peace when and where necessary to quell anger and cure ignorance. We need to more articulately tell those who have a problem with who we are, which is more that our race, to look in the mirror and fix their issues and come back when they are enlightened.

    2. “Should we censor ourselves when speaking to those outside of our race?” Stephanie, such an articulate question.

      The question then becomes, should we NOT censor ourselves!? We have people of color who run around saying what people who lack color would love to say but dear not say it. Allen West of Florida and Herman Cain (sp) are two fresh examples of “Negros gone wild”. Saying any and everything to exploit the scenes and enflame the fool-hearty! To sensor or not to censor, that is the question! I agree, in discussion of race, say what must be said to quell the angry; however, in arguments of race say nothing at all and just listen. You cannot argue with stupid/ignorance and to cure stupid/ignorance you must educate. I say censor yourself when you are in company, but speak your peace when and where necessary to quell anger and cure ignorance. We need to more articulately tell those who have a problem with who we are, which is more that our race, to look in the mirror and fix their issues and come back when they are enlightened.

    3. Michael Johnson,s comment is that of our ignorant brothers who are making a failed attempt at trying to make a historical fact to white folks to establish himself as unbiased and fitting into the journalist world. He’s just ignorant. Chris Rock made a thought provoking fact although in his own way by using comedic satire. Nonetheless it is factual in it’s meaining.

      My belief is that some things about us as black people need to be kept within our community. Whenever we discuss our people around nonblack people it’s always taken another direction. So, Wheneever we discuss our people we should talk about the intelligent majority of us and not the ignorant minority.

    4. @ CM20
      Again I applaud your brilliant insight on the issues of free speech . We African Americans are still hung up on minor issues rather than looking at the big picture, THE ECONOMY . The worst thing the government and corporations can do against us Blacks is the deprive us the ability to make good wages and income to help our families to prosper. It seems that we Blacks live our through other successful Black Athletes, Entertainers, and now President Obama. We Black must start loving and caring about each other, we must start visiting our neighbors and ask them what we can do to help them. People who love and care about each other look after each other’s back , and won’t murder ,rob, rape each other.

    5. If we censor ourselves when speaking to those outside of our race who would we be, and I think thats a problem in work places for black people across America. Like could I say this in the open.The black community has been hardest hit by the bad economy(NO KIDDING). We get what we deserve. Frederick Douglass 1863 “No race is truly free when their economic stability is based on the thoughts,action and feelings of another race”. We get what we deserve black leaders have us floating, and basking blissfully in the sunny heritage of another race. 1960 We’re Going to fix inner city schools 1970 We’re Going to fix inner city schools 1980 We’re Going to fix inner city schools 1990 We’re Going to fix inner city schools 2000 We’re Going to fix inner city schools 2012 We’re Going to fix inner city schools. Yes I can its how I feel its me.

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    7. While those artists are making millions ,our children are listening and killing each other at the drop of dime.Some artists seem to think,it don’t matter.But could it be
      Our boys are learning to hate ni”””””””s?.Propaganda is is a monster..

    8. Freedom of expression is sacred in America, how do you propose we control it?
      It hurts me when I hear artists freely use vulgar racist remarks . Do you think these same artists care? They make millions denigrating women, and ethnics.

    9. Morgan Freeman was correct based on genetical and historical facts.
      Mr Johnson comments were very crude and have no merits in facts.
      The question is should we allow freedom of expression ? In our society we don’t require permission to express our opinions. Many artists are more than willing to cite the “Freedom Of Expression” when uttering racial epithets and they do get away with it . In Both Morgan & Michael’s case they they did not use crude uncivilized racial words to emphasize their points

    10. I have a couple of things: First, Chris Rock is a comedian, & although what he said was taken out of context, it was a joke, & I’m sure he meant it as a joke. Second, I was very offended by what Michael Johnson said about slavery. How could such a profoundly evil, & disgusting institution benefit any African American either right after it ended or centuries later?? Mr. Freeman is entitled to his opinion, but this one was a little off track. Anyone can look at the president & see that he is a black man.

    11. That is a very hard question to answer. Granted, we will have people who will say things that are truly silly. On the other hand, we will have African Americans who will say some profound things. We are just like other people. One person can’t represent the entire race, and what that one person says can only be that person’s feelings and opinions. If you don’t think nonblack people say some of the craziest things, look at Romney’s speech to the NAACP and judge for yourself.

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