[Verboten Racial Slur], Please!

Yesterday, the NAACP laid to rest one of the most-beloved objects of Hip-Hop -- the N-word :

The "n-word" is dead according to the NAACP, which staged a mock funeral for the racial slur during its annual convention in Detroit yesterday, complete with a horse-drawn caisson, black roses and a plywood casket.

"Today, we're not just burying the n-word, we're taking it out of our spirit," Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick told hundreds of enthusiastic mourners, who slowly marched in the quarter-mile-long procession downtown.

As a black man who is also of Irish descent, I have to appreciate a man named "Kwame Kilpatrick." And while I hate the word as much as anyone, and probably more than most, I can't get over this ridiculousness:

"We gather burying all the things that go with the n-word. We have to bury the 'pimps' and 'hos' that goes with it. Die, n-word, and we don't want to see you 'round here no more," Mr. Kilpatrick said.

If the NAACP really wants to confront language issues, perhaps they should focus on the importance of subject-verb agreement and promoting education in the community instead of "burying" words that 'ain't goin' no where.'

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  • ||

    Did they bury the "nappies" too? If so, I hope they were biodegradable ones.

  • HP Lovecraft\'s Cat||

    Shit, now I need a new name.

  • ||

    i was wondering why I couldn't think of the appropriate epithet to the guy that cut me off this morning...they've erase whatever it was from all mankind.

  • ed||

    The joke writes itself. Lawdy, lawdy.

  • ||

    Jonathan "Billie" Blanks?

  • Randolph Carter||

    What did they sing? Some NWA? oh, wait...

  • ||

    Aside from hip-hop, rap, Blazing Saddles, Tarantino flicks or period pieces, and KKK rallies, is this such a widely used term that it requires this?

  • Randolph Carter||

    Fortunately, while [expletive deleted] is dead, nyukka and nuh are still alive and kicking

  • Jennifer||

    They had a funeral for "nigger" in Hartford a few weeks ago. Guess it didn't take. Stupid zombie racist epithets.

  • ||

    I don't know, if it gets 'em in the news and gets their message out, I think we should emulate 'em.

    Animal rights people are good at this too--if you want the media to cover you, so you can get your message out, you gotta give 'em a spectacle to cover. ...and it's hard to argue with success--here we are thinking and talking about what they wanted us to think and talk about.

    We should have a funeral for the Fourth Amendment!

    P.S. I reserve the right to say, "Cracka, please!", especially during the State of the Union address.

  • Wondering||

    The word is dead, so does that mean it is freed up to be assigned to something else?

  • high on life||

  • ||

    You ever walk for three blocks behind two Camodian teenagers who keep calling each other, and everybody else, by that term?

    I'd always thought that "makes my ears bleed" was a metaphor.

    Good riddance, I hope it works.

  • Jackson Kuhl||

    IIRC some in the hip-hop industry did the same thing a couple of years back for the word "def" -- mock funeral, eulogies, etc.

  • ||

    There should be a Samuel L. Jackson exception.

  • Sandy||

    Jimmy Rabbitte: Do you not get it, lads? The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once, say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    You ever walk for three blocks behind two Camodian teenagers who keep calling each other, and everybody else, by that term?

    Apropos of Lenny Bruce's take, that's exactly what everyone should do until the word becomes as diluted of emotional impact and meaningless as bitch has become.

    No, I don't plan on leading the movement. But my sense is that the extent to which the word is despised among black Americans is increasingly a generational thing. So who knows, maybe the whole controversy will be OBE in another generation or two.

  • kohlrabi||

    fortunately, Kwame was able to focus on this having solved all of Detroit's other woes.

  • ||

    I'm with joe...I hope it works. But God knows, if it does work, I'm going to hold a series of funerals for other words I hate, starting with "LOL," "Teh Internets," and any word that now suddenly starts with an i.

  • ||

    Animal rights people are good at this too--if you want the media to cover you, so you can get your message out, you gotta give 'em a spectacle to cover. ...and it's hard to argue with success--here we are thinking and talking about what they wanted us to think and talk about.
    And people take them seriously!

  • Robert Byrd||

    Die, n-word, and we don't want to see you 'round here no more," Mr. Kilpatrick said.

    You're this close to a trademark infringement suit, son.

    Maybe two, depending on what your middle name is.

  • ||

    I had an African-American boss here in LA, and I'd been running the department, more or less, on my own before she was hired. There'd been so many figure heads before her, people were used to comin' to me for direction or a decision, etc. ...and they'd do it right in front of her--even her subordinates would.

    So she closed the department office door and told everybody that she was the HNIC, and then she asked me if I knew what that was. ...being from the South, I knew exactly what that was, and told her I did. Then she asked me if I knew what that made me?

    Everyone else in the office was from the Philippines or somewhere else--they had no idea what she was talking about. ...but I learned so much from that lady--she was one of the best bosses I ever had. How to get a message across delicately--that wasn't one of the things I learned from her.

  • ||

    And people take them seriously!

    If libertarians someday have as much say as they do in the areas they're interested in--what a wonderful world it would be!

  • ||

    "Die, n-word"

    Is this any way to talk at a funeral?

  • ||

    If only they could travel back in time to my high school days and give a funeral for the word "dork."

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    There should be a Samuel L. Jackson exception.

    Not to mention for this classic.

  • Russ 2000||

    Is this any way to talk at a funeral?

    It sure seemed more like a lynching than a funeral.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Stevo! My dork!

    [high-fives, causing pen filled pocket protectors and tape mended eyeglasses to fly across room.]

  • ||

    This is fucking ridiculous. Does anyone actually think that even if no one ever used this word again that it would actually improve things? All you have to do is use another word.

  • ed||

    I'll go out on a limb and guess that most of the people using that word have never heard of the NAACP, and if they have, they consider the organization about as relevant to them as
    Lawrence Welk.

  • ||

    Great! Now that it's dead, it will have even more meaning when somebody uses it! Brilliant!

  • ||

    Much love to all my dorkas in da libe.*


    *Library.

  • ||

    D.A.R.,

    First, go ahead and ask your neighbor how his bitch is doing.

    Second, why don't I ever hear anyone making the "let's use the word until it becomes meaningless" argument about "kike?"

  • ||

    You guys seem to not fully grasp the idea of symbolism. I don't think anybody is literally attempting to bury a word.

  • ed||

    The degree that one is offended by any word is directly proportional to that person's sense of self worth. I can honestly say that there isn't a single word in the entire universe that offends me, and I can think of lots of ethnic slurs that pertain to the heritage of both sides of my family. They're only words, folks. Time to get past it.

  • ||

    ed -
    I thought that was the case too, but a friend's fiance accused me of being a Republican the other day... that threw me terribly off guard and I felt remarkably insulted... although I guess that's more of an insult than a slurr, huh?

  • Edward||

    Judging from the semi-literate posts on this lilly-white blog, more than just Blacks should focus on the importance of subject-verb agreement and promoting education in the community.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    joe, don't you ever get the slightest bit dizzy up there on that high-horse?

  • your pst||

    You guys seem to not fully grasp the idea of symbolism. I don't think anybody is literally attempting to bury a word.

    OK, but then what was in the casket?

  • dhex||

    "Second, why don't I ever hear anyone making the "let's use the word until it becomes meaningless" argument about "kike?""

    i could barely believe it last week when i actually heard pretty much that argument between two friends of friends. (i.e. people who just showed up at this thing that was going on)

    i wasn't even aware the word was used that much.

  • ||

    "Judging from the semi-literate posts on this lilly-white blog, more than just Blacks should focus on the importance of subject-verb agreement and promoting education in the community."

    "lilly" only has two "l"s.

  • ||

    "illy"?

  • Randolph Carter||

    Judging from the semi-literate posts on this lilly-white blog, more than just Blacks should focus on the importance of subject-verb agreement and promoting education in the community.



    And Edward should edit his prose before posting. And use fewer adjectives. Show, don't tell, Edward!

  • ||

    MikeP... *groan*

    I was wondering when the word "blacks" became a proper noun.

  • ||

    At least we still have niggling and niggardly.

  • ||

    Also your sentence is missing a subject: more is an adjective.

  • Edward||

    Typos are frogivable.

  • GILMORE||

    Who the fuck is Johnathan Blanks?

    I demand introductions from all B-Team H&R bloggers. That includes hot glamor shots of Juliet, as long as she's a woman.

    But for real, black and irish is some heavy shit. Im feeling it. Genes lke thats will one day produce the Worlds Baddest Motherfucker*.

    (*Title previously held by Anthony Mason)

  • ||

    Did Chris Rock get the memo?

  • ed||

    OK, I'll confess. There is one word that offends me terribly: "sputum."
    Evidently it sends Katie Couric into a rage as well.

  • Alice Bowie||

    I doubt that this word is any where near dead. It's only dead in the minds of the black-body politic. Not the youth. In fact, I heard Russell Simons use it the other day on TV...just the other day. I wonder how the naacp feels about that?

  • GILMORE||

    as for the content of the post... my only thought is,

    "Damn. Now I need to invent the Worlds Most Offensive word!"

    People call me nigger all the time. They are mostly puerto rican teens. I'm white. I tell them, "dont call me nigger, pancho" and then they try and bitch slap me. I always think thats funny, that they call nearly everyone the N word, but then freak out at the slightest insiniuation of an ethnic remark against *them*.

    I already told the story about the 'racist' dominican who hated on PRs, and would link to it if i could, but damn im lazy.

  • ||

    So what do we call Brazil nuts?
    And if something is put together in a slap-dash fashion, how is it rigged?



    I'm so ashamed now, I'm blushing.
    Seriously.

  • ed||

    And if someone is really cheap?
    No, not "Jew."
    You know which one.

  • ||

    Bronwyn,

    1) Brazil Nuts maybe?

    2) Jerry-Rigged

  • ||

    Of course by far the most famous Black Irishman was the late, great Phil Lynott. I scrolled down to the bottom of the Wikipedia page to see if there were others I overlooked, in perhaps a "Black Irishmen" category. Sure enough, along with "Irish rock musicians", "Bass guitarists". and "Black rock musicians" there was a category "Irish Brazilians". Paydirt! Alas, Phil Lynott was the only one. I appreciate the attention to detail though...

  • ||

    Gee thanks, Nick.

    What, am I the only person with extended family members who say "nigger-rigged" and "nigger toes" without missing a beat?

    Wow. If that's the case, I really am ashamed.

  • ||

    Maybe they're on to something. Can we hold a funeral for the overuse of "Amazing" as an adjective?

  • ||

    joe, don't you ever get the slightest bit dizzy up there on that high-horse?>/i>

    Sorry about your feelings, DA.

    So, then, nothing on the flaws I pointed out in your argument?

  • ||

    "Can we hold a funeral for the overuse of "Amazing" as an adjective?"

    That's a really dynamic idea.

  • ||

    Bronyn,

    We call it "Brazil," and I think you left out a comma.

  • Randolph Carter||

    my grandpa (Irish immigrant from Cleveland) called them nigger toes. I always winced a little bit.

    I've never heard anything other than "jerry-rigged"

  • high on life||

    You're not alone Bron, I've got some relatives that have no problem with those words. Also, I thought the word "colored" was buried long ago, but apparently my Uncle Billy did not get the memo.

  • ||

    You left out a doubleyew, and who is this "we" of which you speak? I said these terms were used by members of my extended family, not by me, so I guess I'm included in that ubiquitous and oh-so-righteous "we" of yours.

    I will also have you know that, on review, it is apparent that I omitted two commas in my previous comment.

    Why the snark, joe? What did I ever do to you?

  • ||

    My lily-white, blue-eyed grandmother married Raldo Baldini, a laborer, in the 1930s and converted to Popery to boot!

    One day, my mother was visiting my great-grandmother in the home, and got an earful about him:

    "I told your mother, you always said you wanted blond-haired blue-eyed babies. You ain't gonna have no blond-haired blue-eyed babies if you marry that n*gger!"

    "Grammie, that's my father you're talking about!"

    "Dont worrie, dearie, you don't look a thing like him."

    OK, fine, she was born in the 1880s, but that's still some funny shit.

  • ||

    What, am I the only person with extended family members who say "nigger-rigged" and "nigger toes" without missing a beat?

    Don't feel too ashamed. Members of my extended family use nigger without missing a beat. But now that the word has been buried I'm sure they'll stop.

  • ||

    Bronwyn,

    You asked, "What do we call Brazil nuts?"

    I answered, "We call it Brazil, and I think you left out a comma."

    Tap tap tap. Is this thing on?

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    So, then, nothing on the flaws I pointed out in your argument?

    Maybe not nothing, but not much. I'm not even sure what the derivation of "kike" is, but I don't hear it used incessantly by young hip Jews about each other or gaining cachet among stupid white kids from the suburbs trying to act like young hip Jews.

    And I wouldn't call my neighbor's wife a dog or a pig, either. I wasn't claiming bitch wasn't still used insultingly, only that it has lost most of the power it once had when it was a word one never heard in public, let alone in the media all the time.

    I understand that "nigger" is unique in Americna culture because black / white history is unique as opposed to all the various other ways we manage, like the rest of the world, to discriminate against, despise and denigrate "others." But, as I said before, the word is losing its power precisely because it was taken up by Hip Hop, etc., and that's, on balance, a good thing.

  • ||

    high on life,

    I had an Uncle Billy, too! He was from Lumberton, TX and was well known for his ability to consume large amounts of buttermilk and bacon. He used the n-word with ease, spanked his wife to keep her disciplined, and died one Valentine's Day while laughing at his own joke.

    My family is insane.

  • ||

    Ah... got it, joe. Bygones?

  • Ron Obvious||

    Central irony:

    The word "nigger" is alive and well.

    It's the word "colored" that is dead. As in naaCp.

  • ||

    OK, that's better.

    I submit that "bitch" has lost some power only to the extent that profanity has become less shocking, not because the sexism has been drained from broad use. This is different than what Bruce was suggesting about n*gger. None of the insulting baggage of "bitch" has been reduced, I don't think.

    I'm not sure how the relative frequency of the n and k words comes into the argument.

    I'm not sure that the theory of n*gger losing its power to insult because of its use in rap is valid. I haven't noticed black Americans being any less offended by being called that by white people, and there has certainly been no shortage of people throwing the term about in a friendly manner.

    The only change I have noticed in the term's implication and application has been that white people who wish to use it in its traditional sense seem to feel less restrained by social convention.

  • ||

    Bygones.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Why a word is forbidden is irrelevant to the fact that being forbidden gives it power. I think perpetuating the power words have to hurt people is a bad thing and I think that's exactly what your attitude and the NAACP's is doing.

  • ||

    If one were to say to a black guy "You stupid n-word". (I mean actually say 'n-word' not nigger.) It would be the same as calling him nigger right? I guess n-word can be just as powerful as nigger. When will we bury "n-word"?

  • matt||

    While we're all on the subject:

    Talib Kweli's new song Niggas lie a lot.

    Is this stupid and racist or funny and empowering?

    I'd say the latter, and if the funeral affects this song, I'll be gravely dissapointed.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNTJcipeTgY

  • ||

    I don't get where all the confusion of who can say nigger and who can't came from. Black people can say it all they want. White people can say it too, but if they do black people are allowed to beat them up. Pretty clear cut to me.

  • ||

    If we're proposing English words to get axed, may I suggest the term "paradigm"?

    Other terms I'd love to see the last of:

    "Action Plan"
    "Pro-active"
    "Synchretic"

    And anyone who uses the term "quantum leap" as it is standardly used should be beaten to death with a copy of Born's Atomic Physics. (My immediate reaction:" oh, you mean something very very SMALL, right?")

    Blargh.

  • Sandy||

    I think as long as one is talking about "nigger" the word as opposed to calling someone that, we can just spell it out.

    Because writing "n-word" or "n*gger" just conveys the same thing, but with a bizarre "but I had my fingers crossed so it doesn't count!" playground twist.

  • ||

    For some reason, calling Richard Pryor's album "Those African-American's must be crazy", doesn't have the same catch.

  • ||

    "Because writing "n-word" or "n*gger" just conveys the same thing, but with a bizarre "but I had my fingers crossed so it doesn't count!" playground twist."

    No matter how you scribe it, nigger is a mental illness.

  • ||

    Lack of subject-verb agreement is the least of Kilpatrick's problems. I mean, I can see the intrinsic appeal of having a black politician who is the equal of Mayor Daley on corruption, but people re-elect Daley because he's actually an effective mayor.

  • ||

    "So what do we call Brazil nuts?"

    Toes of color.

  • ||

    2) Jerry-Rigged

    I've never heard anything other than "jerry-rigged"

    Well, as long as we're being all pedantic, the term is "jury-rigged" though there is a term "jerry-built" with a slightly different meaning.

    From Wordorigins.org

    Jury rig, while similar sounding, has a slightly different meaning, emphasizing the temporary nature of the solution and can imply an ingenious solution done with materials at hand. Jerry-built, on the other hand, is often used for a permanent, but poorly built, construction and has no positive connotation.

  • ||

    "I haven't noticed black Americans being any less offended by being called that (nigger) by white people"

    It's just a symptom of the mental illness.

  • ||

    "White people can say it too, but if they do black people are allowed to beat them up. Pretty clear cut to me."

    ibid.

  • ||

    ..."quantum leap"...

    "Quantum leap" means only that there is no possible intermediate state between the beginning and ending states. It need not be small.

  • ||

    Can we bury sagging and all the dick grabbing too?

  • ||

    MikeP, have you LOOKED at the differences in energy levels in a hydrogen atom?

    That's small.

    As soon as you get beyond a certain size or energy difference, etc., etc. and so forth, stuff starts acting classically and continuously, mainly because the energy levels at very high excitation numbers (or very large boxes for particle-in-a-box problems) are so close together that your activity might as well be continuous.

    I've got a doctorate in physics, ok? Using "quantum leap" to describe something LARGE and DISCONTINUOUS has always pissed me off. It should only refer to discontinuities on the small scale.

    And let's axe the term completely from business, ok? I've seen too many tedious PR sheets describing a new product as a "quantum leap" over what's out there. Invariably, it isn't.

  • ||

    I can't comment on this post...joe says i am a racist.


    anyway

    None of the insulting baggage of "bitch" has been reduced, I don't think.

    BULLSHIT...look at employment numbers of women to men then look at employment numbers of blacks to whites...then look at prison numbers of women to men and then look at prison numbers of blacks to whites.

    "bitch", unlike "nigger", has lost its punch simply because women are not oppressed by the powers that be (democrats) while blacks still are.

  • ||

    [open quote]

    If we're proposing English words to get axed, may I suggest the term "paradigm"?

    Other terms I'd love to see the last of:

    "Action Plan"
    "Pro-active"
    "Synchretic"

    [close quote]

    And "competencies"
    That word aggravates the living shit out of me.

  • ||

    D.A. Ridgely,

    Why a word is forbidden is irrelevant to the fact that being forbidden gives it power. I think perpetuating the power words have to hurt people is a bad thing and I think that's exactly what your attitude and the NAACP's is doing.

    I understand your argument. I can see its internal logic.

    But while I'm perhaps not the ideal person to hold forth on this subject, I don't think it's true. As I said already, people have been putting out records and comedy shows and whatnot in the mass media, using that term in exactly the sense you mean, for decades now.

    Look at the decline of anti-Catholic prejudice and the decline of the term "papist." I don't think social progress and changing terminology work the way you're suggesting.

  • ||

    joshua corning,

    Get in a lot of trouble, do you? Just don't go out of your way to be a dick, and you should get along fine.

    BULLSHIT...look at employment numbers of women to men then look at employment numbers of blacks to whites...then look at prison numbers of women to men and then look at prison numbers of blacks to whites.

    And this relates to the theory that the word "bitch" has become less offensive, how, exactly?

    Indicators of social well being are higher for women than for black men. And this is relevant to the question of the term's potential to offend...?

  • ||

    Using "quantum leap" to describe something LARGE and DISCONTINUOUS has always pissed me off. It should only refer to discontinuities on the small scale.

    I would say that limiting quantum changes to those changes that are that small is needlessly limiting a word to no more expressive uses.

    One question... If an electron hops two energy levels, do you call it a two-quantum leap? I thought not.

    I do agree that "quantum leap" should not be used to describe something large as though it is a large word. That does bother me. But there are rare places it can be used to describe things that are normal-sized, but truly discontinuous.

    And let's axe the term completely from business, ok?

    Fair enough. But then business might start using "q-word leap"...

  • John Nowak||

    Oh fucking hell... this article is ridiculous. Yes, burying the "n-word" is silly, but so what? Silly things happen all the time. Why bother to report this one? Because it's the NAACP?

    As for the last bit, "perhaps they should focus on the importance of subject-verb agreement and promoting education in the community", that's just offensive. The language that Mr. Kilpatrick grew up around, and therefore often uses, has nothing to do with the goals and actions of the NAACP.

    What about the last sentence on the first page of the linked article?

    "Images reflected in songs and music videos that show half-dressed African-American women being objectified or demeaned by men, or young African-American men as thugs must stop..."

    To me, this seems to be a very good message from the NAACP. To essentially disparage them as a group that doesn't promote education -- full of people that can't speak proper English -- is completely offensive and a waste of time.

  • stephen the goldberger||

    all these posts are moronic. the naacp can't remove a word from usage any more than the french government can. who cares what photo ops they designed for themselves.

  • fob||

    It has never occured to me to say the word 'nigger' ever to anyone and I'm not sure why anybody would even want to say it - this day and age! Unless you're like Dave Chappelle or something. To outlaw the word in the 1930s would have meant something.

    I didn't realise it was such a problem but there are some serious racist comments on this page so ncaap raised my awareness at least. Although I have not heard of ncaap before, I'm not american it is probably none of my business.

  • ||

    First, go ahead and ask your neighbor how his bitch is doing.

    He says, "She's just fine -- thanks to your friend for asking!"

    (My neighbor is a dog breeder.)

    Second, why don't I ever hear anyone making the "let's use the word until it becomes meaningless" argument about "kike?"

    We should ask the publishers of HEEB Magazine.

  • ted price||

    you are hilarious.

  • ||

    they should focus on the importance of subject-verb agreement and promoting education in the community

    Word

  • ||

    So, Blankie-boy, welcome to H&R.

    I have to say that your comment at the end of your post is what got me to speak up. I know 'ebonics' bashing is popular, but linguistic analysis shows it to be a distinct form, with its own internal logic.
    Agitating for blacks to learn 'proper' english is no different from lamenting that the wetbacks aren't learning English.

  • ed||

    skip | July 10, 2007, 5:12pm | #

    "So what do we call Brazil nuts?"

    Toes of color.



    Comedy gold.

  • ||

    skip, that was brilliant!

  • ||

    the new PC acceptable version of n-rigged is now Afro-Engineered.. Carry on..

  • shockcorridor||

    nigger bitch ho kike cracker faggot wop guinea spic spade dago mick frog gook chink nigger bitch ho kike cracker faggot wop guinea spic spade dago mick frog gook chink nigger bitch ho kike cracker faggot wop guinea spic spade dago mick frog gook chink nigger bitch ho kike cracker faggot wop guinea spic spade dago mick frog gook chink nigger bitch ho kike cracker faggot wop guinea spic spade dago mick frog gook chink nigger bitch ho kike cracker faggot wop guinea spic spade dago mick frog gook chink nigger bitch ho kike cracker faggot wop guinea spic spade dago mick frog gook chink nigger bitch ho kike cracker faggot wop guinea spic spade dago mick frog gook chink
    "Whew that felt good!"

  • shockcorridor||

    By now I should be riddled with bullets in a case of "suicide by hate crime."

  • John Nowak||

    Just a follow-up to my last comment:

    Jonathan took the time to send me an email detailing his perspective on the issue. I certainly wasn't expecting it, but I very much appreciated it. After going over it, I can see that I may have read a bit too much into this particular post. I apologize for mischaracterizing his post as offensive.

  • ||

    Indicators of social well being are higher for women than for black men. And this is relevant to the question of the term's potential to offend...?

    Easy...

    "hey you can earn as much as me and have equal access to education and opportunity as i do...by the way you are a bitch"

    has less bite then

    "Hey despite the fact that you may be smarter and more talented then me you will not be able to get a job as good as mine and there is no way you can get a good education...and if you try alternative means to obtain a better life you will be thrown in jail..by the way you are a nigger"

    Pagoritive (firefox does not spell check this word)terms do exist in the real world and must have real world context in order for them to offend...other wise anybody can claim there feelings are hurt from any word ever spoken.

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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