It was during the 1980’s in which I had my first encounter with racism. I had to be no more than 7, maybe 8 years old. I was riding around in my father’s grey station wagon passed Black Oak. Ironically, Black Oak was revered as the “white trash” area by Gary. We were rolling across a railroad track when my father had stopped. I forget the reason that he stopped. Yet, I could never forget the moment when I heard those faithful words.

“Ain’t no reason to stop. Keep on going, nigger.”

And at that moment, I really didn’t know how to feel. My father, the strong willed southern gentleman with the penchant for racial epithets of his own, noted that it was just the commentary of “ignorant ass cracker white trash”. Personally, I was pretty stunned that a white man called my father “nigger” and he didn’t jump out of the car to give him a dental rearrangement with his fist. To this day, I am glad that cooler heads prevailed and nothing physical occurred.

Nigger Is As Nigger Does

Fast forward to the present day and the word “nigger” (and even the derivative “nigga”) tend to get a lot of headway. Between people wanting to bury it like a reverend would do their sordid past of booze and hookers and musicians even coming close to naming their album such said word (Nas), there will always be some contention associated with “nigger” and “nigga”. Either people use the word(s) or they don’t. Whatever choice is made is quite understandable. Whatever side is picked, people have every reason to “adore” or “abhor”.


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Oh, and I am using “adore” very, VERY loosely.

At one point of time, I just wanted people to stop using the word altogether. This may seem ironic because I use the word “nigga” so often that one would think I created the term. However, I didn’t want to go through the motions of explaining to my white friends why they should NEVER use it. Also, I didn’t want to keep having conversations with overly-aware Black people why they should leave me alone about it. All in all, I wanted the word eradicated for one main selfish reason: I wanted these niggas out here to shut the fuck up about it.

Unsurprisingly, my wish was never granted. Go figure.

Talib Kweli and the Word Nigger

Just yesterday, after a great workout at the gym, I was linked to Talib Kweli’s article via Facebook. During my time of getting ready to go home and relaxing, I read the article. And to give this article praise would not give it justice. There is something to be said when I agree with an article 100%. Most of the kindred-spirituality happened because he told the truth.

A lot of his truth dealt with aspects quite difficult to disagree with:

  • The use of the word “nigger” and “nigga” is all about context.
  • White people need to accept that they should never use the word.
  • Both sides have every reason to use, and not the use, the words “nigger” and “nigga”.  [1]

Yet, there was a bigger situation that I wanted to note:

Making the word nigger disappear is not only a very unrealistic goal, but it is a useless pursuit. Banning, censoring or erasing the word nigger would not eradicate racism anymore that having a black president made racist whites more tolerant. It made many of them worse, actually. [2]

Let me show this again for good measure.

Let me show this again for good measure.

The above excerpt is probably one of the most important portions of this piece because it helps explain the bigger issue: regardless of a word being thrown away or used ad nauseum, it will never solve the problem. The problem isn’t using the word “nigger”. The problem is all of the sadistic/racist, uninformed White people want to be included into this struggle. They want to feel disallowed to say a word that, historically, they used to keep us “niggers” in line. I hate to say this, but White people are quite good at feeling like they are “left out” in the dark while being owners of the night.

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Then again, forget all of that. WE are not in this post-racial panacea that so many people want to convince up about. That land of “non-colored conformity” and “living in harmony under rainbows” does not, and probably will not ever, exist. So, not using this word (nigger, once again) will mean nothing because the context for the word still exists. You can’t try to eliminate the term for something that is present. In short, the word “nigger” (and “nigga”) won’t go away until Black people stop being treated as “niggers”.

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The Nigger Conclusion

Talib Kweli said it best: using either “nigger” or “nigga” is about context. Some of us need to stop worrying about the word and focus on the conditions that causes the word’s existence. White people, on the other hand, need to stop desiring the use of “nigga” or “nigger”. Then again, this is what happens when we focus on the effects of the problem and not the cause. Before we worry about the use of a word, we need to fix the society that keeps the word relevant.

‘Nuff Said and ‘Nuff Respect!!!