The N Word

Let us examine a word that has become everyday language in our culture and is used more than the word love. We can’t complain because it is not Ebonics, or even a foreign language. It is a word that we understand in the negative and so-called positive sense.

Nigger is a derogatory term used to refer to dark-skinned people, mostly those of Black African ancestry. As an English variant of negro, it was once in common usage, but in recent times, in most contexts, it is considered a racial slur.  However, modern variants such as nigga are used as a synonym for “person” in a controversial effort to reclaim the word for general use.  This is the definition according to Wikipedia.

Now let’s break it down. The “N” was commonly used to belittle Black people back in the day. The definition says common usage meaning the same way we say house or car. The mentality of the people using it had to be one of superiority if they had to categorize a group of people and call them by something other than their names. Instead of people being called the Atlanta Falcons, you can imagine them being called the Atlanta Niggers. If you were to hear that today you probably would want to knock out the person who said it.

So let’s go a step further into the definition and examine the “N” word as a synonym for a person. Who comes up with this stuff? Who decided that “we” would reclaim the word as something of affection or description? Most times when people do not know you, anything about you is all about perception. To hear the “N” word comes out of your mouth even as a greeting of affection sounds completely ghetto.

As we live and grow we need to break the stereotypes. Have you ever thought about how generations before us got through the lashings, lynchings, rapes, discrimination, and roadblocks? If you were able to talk to your great-great-grandfather, would you greet him with the “N” word? Would your great-great grandmother wash your mouth out with soap when she heard it?

Having our own language and culture is cool. I’m not downing that. But is that all what we are about? Has it come to the point where we have to go with the flow “because it’s all good?” Can we go against the grain and still be accepted? Can the “N” word disappear from our vocabulary and officially be reclaimed?

I pose these questions to all the fellas and shorties who use this word every day. Don’t just be here to be here. Open your eyes and look around. Live for change. And so you ask how do we do that? I say we start with one nigga at a time.


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