Here we go again…

I’m tired of hearing about the word “nigger.”

Now comedian Eddie Griffin got in trouble  for using it. I will spare you all the other things at hand and how careful comedians have to be now about using this word. So let me just give you my take …

I don’t want to hear you using it in my presence. And I’m not saying, “Oh, it’s OK when WE do it but you white folks better not put that word in ya mouth.” I won’t be saying that because personally I just hate the word and I don’t really want to hear it at all — from anyone. BUT… I grew up with this word (as obviously so many other black folks have) so I admit that on occasion, I do use it’s variation of “nigga” among friends and family but not in earshot of the general public. When people do that, it just fuels the fire of this long-debated and senstive issue of this word — the word EVERYONE hates but for some reason people just love to use. And it just gives more reasons for people to say, “Well if it’s OK for YOU to use it, then why can’t I?” Because hearing this word among strangers is simply embarrassing. And personally, when I’ve used it, it still sounds awful coming from my mouth — even in jest. And I’m far from being a prude.

But that said, I will admit to being a hypocrite. I have used it. Plus I don’t care if my father uses it. And sometimes his joke attached to it is damn funny. But that is in the comforts of his home. And I know there are some really wonderfully offensive and racist things we probably all say at home (and won’t admit) no matter how open-minded you were brought up in this society. We are all human and no one is 100 percent free of some prejudice. The real issue of race is whether or not you actually live your life in ignorance.

Ignorance: the state or fact of being ignorant; lack of knowledge, learning, information, etc. The condition of being uneducated, unaware, or uninformed.

Yep. I know you know that definition. But look at it for a minute. Key words being “lack of knowledge” and “unaware.” Just because we all have our prejudices, it is through learning and being aware that we decide whether we actually act out the prejudices we hold. This is about knowing the difference of what’s on the surface, what is deep-rooted and whether or not your prejudices rule your life or how you treat people. I won’t get preachy here. But I will confess my sins and lay down some facts.

Fact: I admit to repeating or allowing my ears to hear racists jokes. Sometimes I even laugh.

Fact: I hate but have used the word “nigga” at least 5 times this year.

Fact: If you take out all the “nigga” references in Hip Hop as truly hypocrital rap mogul Russell Simmons  is currently trying to do, (be sure to click both links and see how he flips his views so quickly) what’s left will probably be more poetic.

Fact: I’m not a racist. But I’m not perfect. And neither are you.

So. Really. I’m tired of hearing about the word “nigger.”

20 responses to this post.

  1. Hey,

    I liked very much what I read. You have a good head on your shoulders. I hope you are keeping a journal. It will help you in your writing later.

    I’m just an old white guy who remembers (like you) some very ugly times in the past. And, I too have retreated from time to time to prejudice(s) all too easily. It’s so stupid and crazy and wrong. It has to start with us. Each day, each time, we have to stop it.

    Stay stong.


  2. No doubt, North.
    It is a hard thing to let go of all prejudice. Even when you really want to. We just weren’t made perfect. What CAN get us past all this silly controversy is to A)Stop taking ourselves so seriously. And B) Admitting our faults, laugh at them, work on them and stop making color a road block to understanding.

    And thanks for stopping by and discussing this. I am curious to see what others think as well.


  3. Well, you already know how I feel about the word, since you’ve been over to my blog. Being white, I always wondered about the dichotomy of it being “okay” to be used by black people. I was just taught it was an ugly word. And words have power. I know there are folks who say that words only have power if you let them, but…some words really just need to go away. Living in Canada, it wasn’t really used much by the black community there. It was thrown around by some whites I knew, most of them old people. So I was kind of shocked when I heard it casually used after I moved to Detroit.

    I agree with you that rap and hip hop would be more poetic with out that word. Of course, there’s a few other words that could probably stand to go, too. It’s funny, curse words don’t bother me. But words that denigrate do. I wonder if I have an overdeveloped sense of justice.

    Great topic, and very interesting.


  4. “I wonder if I have an overdeveloped sense of justice.” No. You are from Canada! And really, knowing several people who were from there, it’s just a different world. And a more open-minded, conscious one from what I’ve heard.
    If it were up to me, it would go away completely–from me, my home, society…
    It just isn’t a word worth keeping in our language and I wouldn’t miss it if it were gone!
    Thanks for coming by…


  5. That Jen writes a great blog and she’s dead on with this comment too.
    It’s an old word that is somehow hanging on in society. I live in the Northeast which from everything I have read is the last stronghold of racism. I never hear that word, not ever. The only time I hear it is in hip-hop. Now, either I have to fine tune my ears or I don’t hang out with the type of people that would use it. No matter what, it has no place in today’s society. As an Italian American, I don’t like hearing people insinuate that my family must be in the Mafia. I’m sure that Jews don’t like to be called any of the non-complimentary words that they have heard for centuries. It’s old, it’s going away but it’s going away slower than any of us want.
    Good topic and as usual, great post.


  6. Ah, topic de’jour…

    As a guy who is about as white as they come… Sitting here listening to Iron Maiden in my bowling shirt, spiky hair and freckles… I have no authority to speak on this topic. But I will anyway.

    I’m terribly politically incorrect, but there are limits. I have cracked jokes and I have laughed at other jokes that use the “n” word, and I may have actually uttered it in anger under my breath once or twice when I was feeling particularly hostile towards a a member of the darker race… But as far as I can recall, I’ve never called anybody to their face. It’s just like anything else. I don’t calls gays “fags” to their face, but in a joking sense or when I’m pissed off. In fact, I’m usually more apt to call a straight person a fag than I am to call a homosexual a fag.

    Words are just words, it’s a matter of context. Using “nigger” or “fag” or “pinko commie bastard” in a derogatory sense towards somebody is probably not a good idea. However, using it in a non-derogatory context is a real grey area. People get oversensitive and stupid about things, and sometimes lack the ability to separate words from context. “nigger” is certainly one odf those words, as is “fag.” If a black calls a black a nigger, it’s endearing. If a gay guy refers to his partner as a “fag” it’s endearing. However, when somebody outside of that group uses the word, it’s perceived as a hostile of offensive gesture, even if the context isn’t there. It’s a knee-jerk snap reaction.

    Should the word be banned? No. I think it’s silly. We just need to learn to relax a bit and stop being so offended by words. You can be offended by the meaning behind those words all you want. If somebody gives you the finger and calls you a fucking nigger, you can probably assume it’s a hostile context and treat it as such. Otherwise it’s just something to shrug off and remember that words are meaningless without the motivation behind them.


  7. I disagree on some of what you said, Arc. Because the damage is already done with this word. It should probably just die. And it’s really hard to just “shrug off” because of what it all entails. I agree with Jen. Words CAN have power. It’s hard for certain ones to just have no power at all. The word nigger has power. Whether endearing (which really bothers me) or volatile. It just is a dumb word that is rooted in slavery, racism and the dirty past of America.

    Nigger is what white slave drivers called Africans from Nigeria. It is purposefully offensive. Started that way. Like I said. I feel weird everytime I have said it and at the same time I’m tired of hearing about it in the media and from celebrities. And now we as a society need to just quit talking about it and decide to stop using it. Maybe if we do, it will just go away. But then again, I posted this blog and we’re talking about it now.


  8. Grand: Thanks. My goal is to spark this discussion and see what people really think, without the media influence. I don’t like the media (even though I’m kind of part of the industry) putting this topic in my face all the time. I feel that if they stopped reporting every N-word situation, maybe, just maybe it will just GO AWAY!
    And did I mention I was Italian in a past life? At least that’s what my mother told me.


  9. AJJ, don’t get me wrong, I agree 100% with what you say. There is definately a negative connotation to the word and it is very much based in negative feelings. However, I like to take the over-simplified approach to things like this, which probably gets me into more trouble than it’s worth. Of course, since I’m white I can’t claim to have any idea as to how it would make me feel to say it if I were black. All I know is what I feel, which is why I say it can be shrugged off. Then again, there’s really no reason to say it, so this conversation is all moot anyway. I’m just always leary of banning anything, because it sets a bad precedence for other things being banned and before you know it things just get out of control.


  10. I can see the Italian thing in your eyes? Were any of your family in the Mafia?


  11. True enough. I link banning to censorship.


  12. To Grand: You are still getting in my spam!! I wonder why?
    Hahah. I know how you feel about the Mafia thing. People really assume stuff don’t they. Though I’m not Italian in this life, I can’t get enough Pacino or can’t see Goodfellas enough!


  13. I’m an old white northerner now living in the upper south.
    When I grew up, I never heard that word. I lived in an all white world. During my career, I ended up in an all white world. Where I live now is 90% white. But over sixty years, I have heard the word MORE the past twenty years (Pryor started it) that I did the first forty.
    The word won’t die, but perhaps it will be used so much that it will lose it’s punch.
    Is that just my ignorance talking?


  14. I moved to Hawaii when I was 6 or 7. I had just come from Florida and even at that age was well aware of racism. I’m am a minority in Hawaii, even more of one in the 60s.
    My first day in school I was being given a hard time. There were only about 10 white kids in school of 200. I dont remember all the details but it was a hostile exchange when one Japanese boy called me a fucking haole (howlee). All the word really means is ” white foreigner” or “newcomer”. But the way he said it was so hateful I thought it had to be something really bad. So I knocked him on his ass.
    It was the presentation of the word that was the worst part about it. I have use the word nigger, rarely. Usually it’s when it’s a black person who is incredibly stupid and evil has pissed me off.. I could call him a lot of things that would fit the description of his being even better. But I want to hurt the guy ! And I want to dispose of my anger and frustration in a quick and expeditious manner. Taking shortcuts usually produces a shitty product.
    Any of you guy’s out there ever call a woman the ” C ” word ? Probably not to her face.
    If you did, you’d probably wake up with your dick in you’re mouth.
    Some words just shouldnt be used because we all know that the original intent of the word from day one was to hurt someone else’s feelings.
    I’m a hypocrite, purely because I’m not perfect. But I still try my hardest not to be.

    And I will probably let the word slip out from time to time. When this happens I quickly scold myself and feel shame for not being able to control myself well enough to just not let it pass through my lips. It’s the ” quick release” anger thing and not really anybody’s appearance that has anything to do with it.


  15. Hey,

    I’ve enjoyed all these comments. You certainly shook the tree a bit with your opener, Ajj.
    Grand View has a delightfully wicked sense of humor. And a great opposite perspective from Micky2. And both Ardightzero & Jen lend a cool common sense perspective.

    I too, like Sixty grew up in the north and never heard the word except from the most ignorant and uneducated jerks. That association of word with type has been my guideline well into my boomer years.

    Half of the words Shakespeare used no longer have common usage in the English language.

    As mother always said (and still does): “Watch your language!”


  16. Micky: I sure HAVE called a woman a C and I still have my penis! Seriously though. Certain words don’t faze me. Not even bitch. Not even the C word.

    However, I would kill the person who would ever call me things like, unmotivated, stupid, boring or ordinary.


  17. North: Thanks for sharing and sticking around. Hey! I want to see more of your work!


  18. I dont know you that well, but from what I’ve seen you’ve got some thick skin. I understand the humor because you’ve mentioned before that you have balls. I know what you mean, and I think you have one of the best senses of humor I’ve ever seen a woman carry.
    But words do hurt. A prime example is children. You have to be very careful there. Taking away their self esteem is a hard thing to repair.
    We all are children in a sense that we never stop growing till we are dead. Emotional developement doesnt necessarily stop at 21.
    These words may not bother you so much. But it really depends on who is saying what to who.


  19. […] a black journalist is tired of using nigga. She admits to using the word, and explains why and how it bothers her. Because hearing this […]


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