A few years ago, I was engaged in a discussion about sexual assault. The topic eventually rolled around to date rape—particularly the trend on many college campuses of enforcing strict rules when it comes to intoxicated women. In all my intellectual, sexist glory, I declared that I disagreed with the entire premise. “I agree that a woman is unable to give consent when she is drunk,” I said. “But when I’m drunk and sleep with a sober woman, does that mean I was raped?”
I was pretty proud of my circular logic until a woman broke down how stupid my statement was. It was willfully ignorant of the power dynamics. It turned a blind eye to the fact that men are physically stronger. It ignored the history of men taking advantage of women, the normalization of such, and how such behavior was rooted in apathetic misogyny. She broke down my stupidity into microscopic pieces and showed me how shitty each piece was. She was right.
Allow me to talk to white people for a second. We know you’re reading this.
Every now and then, white people will use the same circular logic I described in the first paragraph. They will ask why we can say “nigga” but they can’t. They will hear or read a joke about unseasoned chicken or dancing off-beat and begin their next sentence with, “If a white person said that ... ” They quickly interrupt any reference to white people being racist or prejudiced with, “Hey, not all white people!”
And absolutely nothing makes them more upset than the word “wypipo.” It rattles their cages. It burns their insides like Texas Pete on a hot wing (yes, that’s how black I am: I put hot sauce on hot wings).
This week we began the 2017 World Wypipo Tournament. I think the concept is hilarious, as do many of our readers, both black and white. But in the comments, there have been the inevitable few people butt-hurt about the use of the term “wypipo.”
I am one of the few people for whom words cannot hurt. I don’t get outraged about much, and definitely not from words written by a person I’ve never met. If I write a “wypipo” article every day, it still won’t match the number of times I’ve been called “nigger” in some form or fashion. I promise you, however, that I am not trying to catch up.
I think the phrase and all the variations of it are sidesplittingly funny (the formal “Y. P. Pull,” the hipster “Why Pee Pole” and the Southern “Wipe E. Puh”). I make an effort to point out that the word doesn’t mean every single person of Caucasian descent. (Although, to be honest, it kinda does. Many of us people assume that all white people are wypipo—just to be safe. In fact, if you are upset by the previous statement because you assumed the phrase wasn’t referring to you—you’re probably wypip0.)
I can understand why some people don’t think it’s funny. Humor is subjective. What is stupid, however, are the people who say it’s racist because if they used a term for black people, they’d be called racist.
As if they don’t understand the power dynamics in America. As if they are willfully ignorant of the 510 years of white supremacy whereby their people got to call black people whatever the hell they wanted. As if black people could give a damn what they are called when they are still treated like niggers. As if they don’t know how racism works. How words work.
I have a nephew who used to love to punch me in the stomach as hard as he could. He thought I was so strong because I could take his punches. I didn’t want to tell him, “Nigga, you’re 3! You can’t hurt me!”
That’s the same way I’d feel if I were white in America. Words? If my ceiling were limited only by my education, dedication and ability, I wouldn’t give a damn about some smart-ass slur on The Root. You think I’d be upset by words if I could live in a universe knowing that my fate simply depended on how hard I worked or how talented I was? I am always astounded that there aren’t more white atheists. What the hell does a white man need a God for?
That’s why I roll my eyes every time I hear or see the phrase, “Imagine what would happen if a white man said that.” I don’t have to imagine. I live in the brick-and-mortar reality of it. I have felt the fear of death squeeze my heart, only to realize that the flashing blue lights were from a street sign. I have been a child and a grown man who watched opportunity snatched from me, only to see it gently placed in the lap of a white boy or man with lesser ability. I have sat down with my children and given a lesson on how society views them because of the color of their skin. I have wondered if my lesson even mattered in keeping them alive. I have been assumed thug, robber, dangerous, stupid, poor and pitiful because of the color of my skin.
That is the exact reason it’s funny to me. It is funny in the same way a person with a bullet wound laughs at someone crying about a paper cut. Because a jumbled cacophony of six letters can trigger real cases of butt-hurtedness. Because I imagine the disgust on the faces that hate it. Because ... fuck it, why not?
There is one thing, however, I will apologize for and readily admit that I regret: I forgot to include “people who hate the word ‘wypipo’” in the tournament bracket.
I would’ve voted for them.
Round 2 of the World Wypipo Tournament begins tomorrow, Thursday. Make sure you vote!