A few days ago, I watched a white male call a black female the N-word. He not only called her that, but he also used the word as the caption to his Snapchat. This boy, who attends my university, then continued to post the snap and share this moment of pure racism to all of his friends and followers. That’s a problem.
The N-word is not some slang or trendy language that can be tossed in and out of conversations like “bae” or “lit” or “fleek”. This is a word that has been used derogatorily for centuries to oppress and dehumanize people of African-American descent. People like me.
Q: So why do “people like me” use the word if it’s so derogatory and triggering?
A: Great question. It’s because, when we say it (with an -a ending), to each other, the context is completely different. The word is no longer oppressing. When “people like me” say the N-word, we’re reclaiming a title that was created to make us feel as “different” as we looked and using it in a way that connects us. African-Americans and our ancestors have endured
years centuries of racism, bigotry, clutched purses, sideways glances, crossed streets, back of the bus, random drug-tests, stereotypes (the list goes on) to say that word. The word has a sense of camaraderie, not hate, when people like me use it.
Q: But can we use it in a song? “N*** in Paris” is a bop, and I swear I don't even really use the word.
A: It totally is a bop, and you can listen to that song as many times as your heart desires. But just don’t sing that part of the song. It’s not as hard as you think. It’s one word out of an entire song. If you think the beat doesn’t “flow as hard” without it then it might be time to find a new song and check yourself.
Q: But when I use it, I swear I’m not using it in a derogative manner. It’s like saying “What’s good, dude?”, it’s friendly.
A: That’s cool, but did you know that there’s are at least 20 other words that can be used to convey the word “friend”? I’ll even link it.
In today's society, tensions are high, not only with people of color, but with those of other ethnicities, religious beliefs, sexuality, gender orientation and so on. There are people who feel that those who are "triggered" by derogatory statements need to get a thicker skin. Words are just words, and words can't hurt you; but they can. Words, like the N-word, have been taken back by those who have used them to oppress others so that people, like the boy from my university, can't use them.