If there was ever a word that had its own existence, it would be this. The N word is living and breathing right among us. It is casually used by every race, even though some will swear on everybody’s grave that they don’t use it. As we all know the term is a racial slur used by Caucasians during slavery to create a social hierarchy, which allowed them to exploit, manipulate and keep blacks at the bottom for hundreds of years. This post, however, is not to reflect on this history but discuss the interesting and somewhat confusing survival of the N-word within the black community.
I implore you to read this post with an open mind.
“In all honesty, I wish black people will fight as hard for other things as they fight to keep this word in their vocabulary”.
I have always been puzzled by the unnatural zealot determination of some individuals to keep referring to one another by the N-word. Of course, I have heard the argument that, when it is used by black people it is a term of “endearment”. How is that a word which insults our very existence has now become a term of endearment?
Before writing this post I thought it would be interesting to ask people I knew, mostly friends and family about the use of the N-word within the black community. For most if not all, I can confidently say that we all agreed to some extent that it did not bring any form of benefit. There was, nevertheless, the argument that ‘ when we use it, we take away the power of it.’ I had to scratch my head at this though because I know very well, sat here, that if other races were to refer to us by this very word we would be up in arms about it. If we truly are taking ownership of the word, to take away its sting then why get mad?
“Nigger/Nigga is a derogatory term used to insult our ancestors, see if a white man used it, you will be ready to fight, you using it teaches him to use it, you are saying it is cool and it is not cool” – Coach Carter
Maybe you do not agree with Coach Carter, and this post isn’t to get you to do so. What I hope this post will do is to push you into looking at this debate from another perspective. If black people can use the word but other races can’t, then should men be banned/refrained from using the word “bitches”, as it is used in a negative light towards women and some women now refer to themselves as it, under the same notion of “taking ownership of the word”? Or is that comparing oranges with lemons? Does taking ownership of a word, eradicate the meaning of the word? Is the N-word now obsolete? It seems as though we cannot remove the word from our vocabulary but we manage to remove (censor) antisemitic, homophobic, etc words. If it can be done for those why not this word?
During one of Kendrick Lamar’s concerts, he invited a fan, who so happened to be white, to sing his song which happens to have the N word in almost every line. Clearly excited to be picked she begins to ‘rap’ and well we all know what happens. What confuses me, is that he proceeds to stop her and tell her that she can sing the song but can’t say the word. My question is why even invite her up there, to begin with? It almost seems as though he was setting her up for it. Another example of this, is in a scene in Dear White People, where at a House Party, a white guy sings along to the lyrics of a song, which again contains the N-word. When confronted he asks “now I’m banned from repeating what is in a song?’ I don’t believe this justifies him uttering the word whether or not he believes in it, the fact is this, why put it in your songs if you don’t want people to use it?
Now let me put a disclaimer out here, I am not condoning both people mentioned here, I have always been confused by some white people feeling oppressed about not being able to say the N word. However this post is for the black community, we’ve got to stop pointing fingers and look within to question why we hold such a word with so much hate and pain so dear. Or maybe the reason we do, is because we see ourselves as such and mentally haven’t quite moved past what the word reduced our ancestors to becoming? It seems as though, to some extent, we all have a basic knowledge of the brutality of the word but have not quite taken the time to truly study and grasp the evil it prevailed on our ancestors.
It is clear by this post where I stand on this topic and why I do. I believe that there is power in the tongue and we either speak life or death into our lives. So if we truly seek to empower ourselves, lift our community and create a better future for the generation to come then let us start by speaking more positively, we can’t keep referring to our brothers and sisters with a word which connotates slavery and bondage and be surprised that we keep lagging behind as a race. Honestly, lets ‘deep’ it! Because that word brings nothing but pain, anger and death to the soul of a black person, you don’t ever see Jews, Asians or Hispanics casually refer to themselves in derogatory terms. We as black people, we are better than that, it is about time we don’t just say that we are, we need to start living it too.