News & Views » The N word

Nsenga answers her critics

by

8 comments

I've been contributing to Creative Loafing for a while now, but it never ceases to amaze me the volume of e-mails, letters and posts that I receive. Some of them are uplifting, others offer constructive criticism and then there are those that are just plain mean-spirited.

My writing is received in so many different ways by so many different people. I've been called brilliant, a dumbass, passionate, lazy, conservative and liberal -- all in reference to the same article.

For this week, I thought it would be interesting to address some of the comments/questions/concerns that folks have submitted over the years.

Why are you so angry?

I find it interesting that the same people who find me angry find the other columnists featured in the paper -- Tara Servatius and John Grooms -- passionate. I examine the world through a critical lens, and sometimes what I see makes me angry. By and large, I address my topics with passion, energy and enthusiasm -- which often translates as anger when done so by a black woman.

What kind of name is Nsenga? You must be one of those people Bill Cosby was talking about.

Actually, I'm named after an African queen, Nzinga -- which has several spellings (N'Senga, Nzingah, Nzingha) depending on which part of the world you inhabit. My name is not made up, and I have met a number of "Nsengas" in major cities and on the continent of Africa. My parents gave my sisters and me African names so that we would have a connection to the African continent. Sometimes I believe they did it so that we would have a harder time finding jobs (their names are Beverly and Earl). But seriously, my family was born here (some members were here before most of your ancestors -- shout out to the Blackfeet tribe!). I'm proud of my name.

I can't tell if Nsenga is a man or a woman or what "it" is.

I am definitely all-woman, and I've been told that I'm pretty easy on the eyes.

Nsenga must have gotten her Ph.D. from Wal-Mart.

Keep wishing. I am extremely well-educated. I have attended some of the most prestigious and selective universities in the country. For all of those who keep calling me an "affirmative action" baby, I was valedictorian and attended Governor's School for the Gifted and Talented. I've always been at the top of the class. School is my thing. I'm very good at it, which is probably why I have four degrees and am now a professor. I'm interested in the world around me. Although I am quite proud of my academic talents, I am most proud of my common sense. I know that having four degrees doesn't make you better than anyone else, just like not having any degrees does not make you better than me.

Nsenga is a racist.

Don't get it twisted. One of my areas of expertise is racism, so I am very aware of issues concerning race. I believe that everyone is a racist, and we have to consciously and consistently work against discriminating against and stereotyping people, including our own. People in this country are extremely uncomfortable discussing issues about race, so I find that whenever you do, you're labeled a racist. I'm no more of a racist than anyone else. We're all racist in some way, shape or form and must strive to "unlearn" it, which takes consciousness and commitment. Most people don't have either in abundance. Everyone is a child of God to me -- even the haters.

Why would you name your column The N Word. It's so degrading.

I didn't. The editor, Carlton Hargro, did. Trust me, his intention was not to degrade but to attract readers. It worked.

You think you know everything.

You're right, I do think I know everything. I can admit when I'm wrong though, which makes it almost bearable -- at least that's what my sweetie tells me.

Nsenga is a liberal.

Pretty much, although I'm conservative on some things, like abortion. I definitely think it's a woman's right to choose, but I disagree with when and why some women get abortions. Thought you knew me, huh?

Why are your articles sometimes about old topics?

Well, I write for a weekly, which means that we have to have our topics in at least a week in advance. Some may be old when you're reading them, but they are actually timely when they are submitted. So for those of you who think that I am behind the curve, I'm actually often ahead of it.

Nsenga hates America.

No. Nsenga loves America, just not blindly -- sort of like my man.

Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of communications and media studies at Goucher College and editorial director for RushmoreDrive.com.


Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment
 

Add a comment