A Time For Words To Die Essay

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A Time For Words To Die Essay, Research Paper A Time for Words to Die? The cast of characters in this drama is both short and long at the same time. Theplayers are Anthony A. Williams, mayor of Washington DC; David Howard, the directorof the Office of the Public Advocate; Marshall Brown, a staff worker in theaforementioned Office; and last, a minor character, John Fanning, witness to thebeginning of a debacle concerning race relations, hyper-sensitivity and irrational anger. They are African American, white, African American and white, in that order. Theremainder of the cast are African Americans in specific, minorities in general and the evilwhite man because every good story needs a villain. Our story begins as the Office of the Public Advocate is undergoing

financialdifficulty. David Howard is about to describe the financial woes to Marshall Brown andJohn Fanning, and put his foot into his mouth in the process. The sentence he used, according to all three of the participants, was I ll have to be niggardly with this fundbecause it s not going to be a lot of money. The result of this statement was a look ofmixed confusion and horror from Howard s two co-workers and the departure of Brownfrom the office while Howard was trying to offer both definition and apology at the sametime. Niggardly is the adjective form of the noun niggard , which means stingy andmiserly, and the root of the word is from nig in the Middle English of the 1300s, whichmeans miser. The other n-word, which has been at the center of many a discussion onrace

relations, comes from the French word n gre , which means black. The entirefiasco led to the resignation of Howard, after some urging from Williams, and theeventual rehiring of Howard in a different job in an entirely different office. David Howard has worked in politics for many years and was part of the reasonhis director, Mayor Williams was so successful for his bid for mayor. Howard was oneof the few openly gay members of the campaign and help garner support from the gaycommunity when voting time arrived. One of the first pieces of support for the idea thatHoward is not a biased, bigoted, hate-monger is the fact that he is gay. As a member of aparticularly vilified minority, living in the racially charged atmosphere of Washington, itseems improbable that the man could

possibly have been capable of using a derogatorystatement directly to the face of an African American, unless perhaps Alzheimer s hadbegun to set in and he forgot both who and where he was. The center of indignation in this piece is Marshall Brown. He called Howard afew days after the incident and demanded an apology. Howard was unwilling to give onebut was not allowed to clarify what he had said, as Brown would not listen to anythingexcept an apology. Brown has refused to comment in any way except to verify Howard sassertion that the sentence used was the one quoted above. It is more than coincidencethat Brown has remained silent on the issue, perhaps waiting for the dust to settle. Brown considered himself to be next in line for the job that Howard held, and when thejob was not

only filled by another man, but a white man, it might have seemed like a slapin the face to a man who had worked for another black, Washington mayor, MarionBarry, and perhaps thought himself ready for a promotion. So where does this leave the participants? Members of the press, a group oftenthought to have a more than passing acquaintance with the English language, wrote manyeditorials and more than one decided that his or her viewpoint might be a little morebelievable if he or she revealed his or her race. White journalists generally favored theview that the entire incident was ridiculous; the mayor of Washington was showing offhis lack of backbone and niggardly was a word that should be shouted from the rooftops. The backbone problem is one that Williams has been weathering