Dear Black People, Stop Saying The N-Word Or Stop Getting Upset When Other People Use It

Dear Black People, Stop Saying The N-Word Or Stop Getting Upset When Other People Use It

No matter if it ends in "er" or "a," the N-word is a disgusting term and it's hypocritical for blacks to use it to refer to themselves, and in the same breath tell others they can't say it.

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I'm not going to lie and pretend that at one point in time, I didn't say the word "nigga" in almost every sentence. It was the equivalent of the word "dude" to me. I would say it in reference to a friend, in reference to someone who was not a friend, and in reference to any guy (even non-black men). I've always known the history of the word, but it never seemed like a derogatory phrase to me. Actually, in some cases, I saw it as a term of endearment, a pet name of sorts.

Given my comfort and ease with which I tossed the word around like it was a soccer ball, you'd probably expect me to have no qualms with being called a "nigga," but that's the exact opposite of my reality. I've always hated being referred to as that word. It didn't matter who was saying it — a friend, stranger, or cousin — I didn't want them branding me with that term. I could never put into words why I would snap at people for calling me "nigga." I just didn't like it. I knew how hypocritical it was to sit around and call people something that I wouldn't even call myself, but I still did it. The word was cool to me and I was familiar with it, so why not?

The answer to that question is because it's degrading.

By now, we should all be familiar with the origin of the word "nigga" (black Twitter and black Tumblr have made enough posts about it to last a lifetime). It's a variant of the word "nigger," which was used by racist people to dehumanize blacks. By calling us a nigger, they were marking us as inferior, ignorant and unworthy. A little while later, some black person (I'm assuming this is how it went down) decided it would be empowering to replace the "er" ending with an "a" and start calling other black people that term, to sort of "reclaim" the word in an effort of defiance; to tell all racists that they can call us whatever they want, but we'll find a way to make it positive.

The idea is nice, except there's nothing empowering about the word at all.

I want you to stop and think about the definition of the word "nigga." Just for a moment, really ponder what it means. If you were able to come up with an actual definition, then I applaud you, because I surely can't. The dictionary definition of the word "nigger" is "an ignorant person." Nigger has an actual meaning. If "nigga" stems from 'nigger,' then what are we really calling each other when we say that word? The pronunciation of the two words has changed, but has anything else? Yes, the connotation has changed. Blacks (and non-black people that use the word when we're not around. Y'all ain't slick) generally perceive the word to be positive. But a change in connotation is not equivalent to a change in meaning.

The word "gay" used to mean happy, now it's a term to describe someone who is attracted to the same sex. This is an example of a word that's evolved. Can we say the same about "nigga"?

No, we can't. So we're basically still calling ourselves ignorant and inferior, just with a different pronunciation.

If the word has really changed, blacks need to ask themselves why they get upset when a non-black person says the word. Of course, we could use the excuse that it's "our" word (I mean, can you actually claim a word, though?) and that its history is deeply personal, so only we should have the right to use the word... But is that really all there is to it? Is it possible that we don't like when non-black people say the word because it brings up the same stomach-turning, infuriating feelings that emerge when we hear the original N-word? Is it because it reminds us of the days when racists proudly toted the term in order to disparage us?

That's my reason. It may be different for you. But it absolutely boils my blood when I hear anything remotely resembling the N-word because I am ready to move past the disparaging days of Jim Crow. I am ready for my people to feel empowered and self-assured. And we really can't do that if we keep hearing that word tossed around every second. The more we use it, the more normalized it becomes, and it doesn't deserve to be normalized. It's not normal to degrade yourself (the same thing applies to women who refer to themselves as bitches and hos, but I digress), and I don't want any non-black person thinking it's okay to toss around a word loaded with such a violent and hateful history.

I'm not going to tell you what you can or can't say. How people choose to use their freedom of speech is up to them. I simply suggest being more mindful of the words you use to mark yourself and those around you; but you also can't get offended when someone uses a word that you, yourself, use to refer to yourself and those who look like you. It's hypocritical, and honestly, a little outlandish.

We have to make the decision of whether we want to let that hurt go and allow everyone else to say the word, or drop it altogether, because, at the end of the day, it's still a negative word at heart. And no one benefits from its use.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Dear Beautiful Black Girl, Never Forget Your Worth

An ode to all the beautiful black girls.

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We live in a society where societal standards greatly define the way we view ourselves. Although in 2019 these standards are not clear cut, some things are not easy to change. Not to play the race card, but this is true for women of color, especially black girls.

As much as I'd like to address this to all women, I want to hit on something that I'm more familiar with: being a black girl. Black females have a whole package to deal with when it comes to beauty standards. The past suppression and oppression our ancestors went through years ago can still be felt in our views of beauty. It is rare to see young black girls be taught that their afros and nappy hair are beautiful. Instead, we are put under flat irons and dangerous chemicals that change our hair texture as soon as our hair becomes too "complicated" to deal with. The girls with darker skin are not praised, but rather lowered in comparison to their peers with fairer skin. A lot of the conditioning happens at a young age — at the age of 8, already you can feel like you're in the wrong skin.

As we grow up, there are more expectations that come here and there, a lot of very stereotypical and diminishing. "You're a black girl, you should know how to dance," "black girls don't have flat butts," "black girls know how to cook," "you must have an attitude since you're black" — I'm sure you get the idea. Let me say this: "black girls," as they all like to say, are not manufactured with presets. Stop looking for the same things in all of us. Black girls come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and talents. I understand that a lot of these come from cultural backgrounds, but you cannot bash a black girl because she does not fit the "ideal" description.

And there is more.

The guys that say, "I don't do black girls, they too ratchet/they got an attitude" — excuse me? Have you been with/spoken to all the black girls on this planet? Is this a category that you throw all ill-mouthed girls? Why such prejudice, especially coming from black men? Or they will chant that they interact with girls that are light-skinned, that is their conditioned self-speaking. The fact that these men have dark-skinned sisters and mothers and yet don't want to associate with girls that look the same confuses me. And who even asked you? There are 100 other ethnicities and races in the world, and we are the one you decide to spit on? Did we do something to you?

Black girls already have society looking at them sideways. First, for being a woman, and second, for being black, and black males add to this by rejecting and disrespecting us.

But we still we rise above it all.

Black girls of our generation are starting to realize the power that we hold, especially as we work hand in hand. Women like Oprah Winfrey, Lupita Nyong'o, Chinua Achebe, Michelle Obama — the list is too long — are changing the narrative of the "black girl" the world knows. The angry black woman has been replaced with the beautiful, educated, and successful melanin-filled woman.

Girls, embrace your hair, body, and skin tone, and don't let boys or society dictate what is acceptable or beautiful. The black girl magic is real, and it's coming at them strong.

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