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Why Using the N-Word Will Bring Fox’s Empire to Ruin

Yasmeen Muqtasid

Yasmeen Muqtasid

By Yasmeen Muqtasid

Fox’s new hit series, Empire, broke records and rules during its 10-week introduction to the new world.  Empire revealed a new viewership that shatters all myths that people won’t tune in to see a majority Black cast with its winning ratings and non-stop social media chatter. The Empire has already conquered a viewership of more than 14 million weekly.  However, if Empire producers follow the suggestion of its leading male star—Terrence Howard—a powerful empire of the show’s fans and non-fans alike might strike back and quickly kick-drop what has become a weekly ritual for many African Americans and viewers of all backgrounds.

Recently in March, Terrence Howard in an Access Hollywood interview said that using the N-word in Empire would be more authentic and be in step with keeping true to everyday black life.  In a bizarre series of rationalizations, Howard says “that as long as you remember to take out the “er” then anyone can say it,”—he also said that his white friends use it with him.  This suggestion comes on the heels of Howard’s  nasty divorce in 2011, which he reported in court documents that his estranged ex-wife allegedly “hated black people” and would often call him names such as “monkey” and “n**ger.”  Lucious Lyon—we are thoroughly confused.  Which one is it?  Is it ok or is it not ok?  Obviously, Howard understands the sting of the word from his marital woes, but does he really understand the historical stench that permeates from a word birthed from such a hateful place.

To introduce the N-word to Empire would be to devalue the very power that the cast has established both onscreen and off-screen.  Using the word on Empire would be akin to African slaves tasting their freedom having established new free settlements in the North, only to decide that they miss their Masters and are willing to give up their freedom and to be enslaved again.  And that’s what the N-word does every time we allow others to say it—unchecked, whether one is black or white—it’s a step backward not forward for black people.  Using the N-word is an indication that one is still not free—mentally.  If you were free, you would not desire to use the word, because you would understand that the word takes us as a people back.  The word weakens the empire our ancestors built so that we might exist today.  I wonder if the same people who advocate for using the N-word would dare to say it in the presence of a Dr. King, Malcom X, Rosa Parks, Emmet Till.

Let’s give Howard the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he has not thought about the lasting consequences that such a change in the tone would have if Taraji Henson a.k.a. “Cookie” called him out of his name on the regular with an N-word here and there.  We must ask ourselves what would be the worldwide ramifications of having the N-word on such a popular show that touches the minds of millions of people.  This is a question for all artists on television, film and music—what’s the impact of this word when it’s memorialized in such powerful mediums.  Is that what we want our Black empire to be remembered for—the N-word—and a continual resurrection of the word in pop culture?  We must let this word die.

It’s ludicrous that Howard would even suggest in conversation to Lee Daniels, creator of Empire, that the N-word be incorporated.  I wonder if Jewish actors have ever insisted that Steven Spielberg use the  K-word in his latest production.  Yes, there is a derogatory word for Jews, but guess what–they don’t use it amongst one another, and their community will ensure your demise (as it should) if you try to drop it casually and say, “it’s a term of endearment.”

In the midst of such supreme success with Empire, one has to question Terrence Howard’s mindset to have even thought to share the suggestion that the N-word be used.   What should anger Howard and all of us, is the fact that so many black people past and present were killed and still are being killed by someone (white, black, etc.) who dares to think that we are “N**gers” and feels justified in treating us as sub-human.

The progress of our first black president, our first black attorney general, and our first black female attorney general in waiting way, are all contrasted against the real drama of the daily murdering and terrorizing of unarmed black men and women by police and vigilante American citizens.  Considering all of the recent killings and beatings of unarmed black men and boys from the University of Virginia—where honor student Martese Johnson was brutally beaten to the murder of Anthony Hill, an unarmed, naked U.S. Air Force veteran to 12-year-old Tamir Rice’s execution, why on earth would Terrence Howard think it a good idea to incorporate the most vile word known to black humanity into the Empire storyline.  The N-word is the last word that far too many black souls audibly or symbolically heard on this side of heaven.   Whether they heard it while being sold from their parents, while being lynched, while being beaten, or while being raped—one thing is clear, that the aggressors in each of these very real life horrors thought of black people as sub-human N**gers.

Words have power—and if we think there’s no power in what we call ourselves and allow others to call us—well—therein lies the reason why the only formidable “Black Empire” that will ever be realized is in the fictional world of Lucious and Cookie.


 

Yasmeen Muqtasid is the founder of Black Women Matter, Inc.  Black Women Matter was founded in 2010 to address matters that are important to Black women.  BWM uplifts, encourages and empowers black women–because WE matter. Yasmeen is a California native and UCLA graduate who loves good conversation, good people and good food.  Find her on Twitter @bwmatter or email her at info@blackwomenmatter.com

Health Advocate, Maria Gordon, Reverses Diabetes, Loses over 100 lbs, leads others to doing the same

Maria Gordon, before and after

Maria Gordon, before and after

In the United States, alone, 37.9 % of non-Hispanic black and African American men over the age of 20 are obese, and 57.6 % of women who are non-Hispanic black and African American over the age of 20 years are obese (CDC, 2009-2012). However, with the rise in more health awareness campaigns and advocates, more people are seeking the desire to live healthier and longer lives.

Out of those health advocates is Maria Gordon. Gordon struggled with obesity and was later diagnosed with Diabetes in 2010 as a result of her weight battles.

“I know personally the struggles that are faced every day,” Gordon states. “From the challenges of eating properly, the motivation needed to continue and the thoughts that are often not expressed for fear of ridicule”.

In September of 2013 something amazing happened, Gordon decided to get serious with getting her health back on track which included eating clean, increasing her water intake and transitioning into a vegetarian.  As a result she has lost over 100 lbs and has successfully reversed Type 2 Diabetes. Now she is on the quest of assisting others to do the same by providing encouragement and being that positive force of reinforcement to ensure that they succeed in their weight loss journey.

“I’m not a fitness person who doesn’t really understand the challenges. I’m a real person with real results and striving for more results in others as well as myself. This is about being able to connect with people on a personal level, building trust and actually living by example,” Gordon said.

Upon changing her own life, Gordon felt inspired to help others by also teaching them that they do not have to give up and accept the diagnosis, we can FIGHT BACK! She is currently a health and wellness coach working towards certification.

Gordon’s overall goal is not only to raise awareness for Type 2 Diabetes, but to also inspire others to make a lifestyle change and commitment. Success is not only on T.V, its real life…. it’s her life and it can be yours as well. If you would love to speak to Maria Gordon in a more in depth conversation, you may reach out to her at MsMariaG1@gmail.com or visit her website www.ProsperouslyYours.com.

Through Medi‐Cal, More Than 1 Million Black Californians Sign Up for Health Insurance

4By McKenzie Jackson/California Black Media

As far as Ronail “Stretch” Shelton knows, his health is great. Strong, athletic and fit, the Los Angeles‐based personal trainer, is one of hundreds of thousands of Californians of all races who renewed or began Medi‐Cal coverage this year.

Despite having a clean bill of health, Shelton, 31, who is African American, says he understands why he needs reliable health coverage.

“If something were to happen suddenly, I might not be able to afford to pay for it,” said Shelton, who is self‐employed.

According to the most recent numbers, 779,000 Californians either enrolled or re‐enrolled in Medi‐Cal, the Golden State’s safety‐net health insurance program, during its second open enrollment period. This statistic includes numbers from November 15, 2014, to January 31, 2015.

While Covered California, the state’s health exchange, has not yet released statistics concerning the number of African‐American Californians who signed up for health coverage through the state program during this most recent enrollment period, Black Californians made up six percent, or 114,000, of the 1.9 million people who registered for Medi‐Cal during the initial enrollment period of October 2013 to April 2014.

Medi‐Cal provides low‐cost health coverage for children and adults with low to no incomes and resources. The program is administered by the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). Under the Medi‐Cal program, qualified persons receive free or low‐cost health coverage. Eligibility for free Medi-‐Cal is determined by household income and family size, among other requirements.

Every year the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sets guidelines that determine whether or not families or individuals qualify for certain federal assistance programs based on their income. In 2015, according to that measure, a family of four has to earn less than $23,550 to fall below the poverty level. For an individual, that number is $11,490, and $15,510 for a family of two.

However, the State of California has its own index for determining who qualifies for Medi-Cal. According to DHCS, a family of four has to earn less than $32,913 to fall below the poverty level. For an individual, that number is $16,105, and $21,708 for a family of two.

Toni Newman, the Development and Administration Coordinator with To Help Everyone (T.H.E.) Health and Wellness Centers in Los Angeles, one of the Southside Coalition’s community health groups, said with Medi-Cal and other low-cost plans offered through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), African Americans can get affordable, even no-cost, health insurance.

“Health plans offered by Medi-Cal include benefits known as ‘essential health benefits,’” Newman told California Black Media in an e-mail.

Those health benefits include dental services, emergency services, hospitalization, outpatient services, prescription drugs, laboratory services, and children’s services such as oral and vision care. Maternity and newborn care, preventive and wellness services, chronic disease management, mental health services, substance use disorder services, and other rehabilitative devices and programs such as physical and occupational therapy are also covered by Medi-Cal insurance.

According to numbers from the Southside Coalition’s website, from 2008 to 2012 T.H.E.’s six centers and one mobile clinic in the south Los Angeles area had a patient base that is 61 percent African American. Seventy -two percent of the patients earned less than 100 percent of the federal poverty line and 43 percent were uninsured, the website also reports.

Newman said T.H.E.’s doctors and nurses are accustomed to dealing with health issues associated with the communities it serves. “Sixty percent of T.H.E. patients use Medi-Cal and most of that population are minorities,” she said. “A lot of African Americans suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes .”

At each of the centers, T.H.E. offers medical services for men, women, children, and teens, as well as public health and preventive education services.

Although enrollment for the program jumped dramatically during Covered California’s open enrollment period from November 15, 2014, to February 15, 2015, enrollment or renewal for Medi-Cal is available all year long to those who qualify, as opposed to the private health insurance plans offered through Covered California as part of the ACA – commonly known as “Obamacare”.

There are a number of ways individuals or families can apply for Medi-Cal coverage. They can sign up in person at their local county’s human services agency; visit a Covered California certified enrollment counselor; or apply by mail with a Medi-Cal Single Streamlined Application found on Covered California’s website at www.coveredca.org.

Newman said T.H.E. has 10 certified enrollment counselors who have been trained and certified by Covered California to assist uninsured patients in enrolling in Medi-Cal and Covered California plans.

For most, the renewal process is simple and straightforward. It entails requesting the Medi-Cal renewal documents from your local county human services agency. Upon receiving, the applicant must fill the forms out and send them back to the human services agency.

Shelton said getting through the renewal process was smooth even though he experienced a hiccup early on. “I didn’t get the paperwork,” he said. “So they assigned me someone that helped me get it done.”

For more information about Medi-Cal visit www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/pages/applyformedi-cal.aspx or call your local county human services agency, or visit Covered California’s website at www.coveredca.com or call 800-300-1506.