I start to flinch
As I try not to say it
But my lips is like the oowop
As I starts to spray it
That's the chorus of A Tribe Called Quest's "Sucka Nigga". Long a favorite of mine from their stellar Midnight Marauders record. But, up until yesterday, at around 4:30, I didn't know what "the oowop" was. You see, hip as I am I'm not familiar with gangsta slang (and honestly, I don't even know if "oowop" is gangsta slang, per se, but let's just assume it is). I always assumed oowop was like the "ooh-wop" in doo-wop music - like maybe Q-Tip just wanted to smile, snap his fingers, lean in a little bit, tap his foot and do some Doo-Wop backups, singing the N-word instead of "dooooh-wop!" I know that makes no sense. I've always known that. But it didn't matter because I still got the gist of the rest of it : he's a tiny bit uncomfortable when he starts to say the N-word but goes right ahead and says it anyway, a lot. That's what the whole song is about - the kids like the N-word, so there all you scolds and relics! Don't need to know what an "oowop" is to figure that out.
Well, anyway, after twelve years of not knowing or caring was an oowop is, I decided to look it up. And well, an oowop is an Uzi. That certainly makes a lot more sense.
Oowop. I bet nobody says that anymore.
And then, a half hour later, I'm driving home from work and listening to WNCU because WUNC is doing their fall drive-listeners-away pledge drive and if I hear those fuckers say "Call us at nine one nine, nine six two, nine eight six two. That's nine one nine, nine six two, nine eight six two. Again, nine one nine, nine six two, nine eight six two. Give us a call!" one more time, I'm gonna drive my fucking car into a wall. And since WNCU targets an African-American audience (at least with its talk show choices), I'm listening to the panel talk about things like Andy Rooney's recent announcement that he prefers the word "Negro" over "African-American", and that the premiere of the new Boondocks cartoon used the N-word something like 15 times - the panel was not amused. I guess nobody has solved that issue yet, despite Q-Tip's 1992 optimism.
So, it was a day of poking my little white head under the tent and glimpsing the world of black identity politics and the debate over which terms are acceptable and which aren't. Whew... a bit over my head there. Maybe tomrrow I can read a couple of paragraphs about another delicate subject - the Israeli-Palestine issue, maybe. I'm sure I'll have a lot of useful things to say about that. Are there any catchy songs about it? If so, can I just skim the lyrics and wait a decade or so to really think about them ? Hope so.