Do You Wanna Be A Nigger?!

 Nas has sparked controversy with his new track “Be A Nigger too” . Personally I don’t really understand what he’s trying to say or why he feels the need to use the word – other than for publicity’s sake.

I don’t think he’s made any insightful, enlightening or political points in the song, or said anything particularly meaningful or profound either – so it really does seem that he’s used the word for no good reason.

Since I’ve been living in America, one thing that has shocked me is the amount of racial terminology and general derogatory language that people use. ‘Nigga’, ‘bitch’, ‘cracker’, ‘muthaf***a’ – I hear them all… and often.

Until I came here, I thought that the N word was used mainly in music, until I realized that it really is an every day term in the black community. Its usage in hip hop may have called attention to it and made the word more public, but the fact is was already being used in common speech. Some people use it more than others, but in general ALOT of people use it. It’s not even a class thing – middle class and educated black people use it too.

I’ve had a number of discussions about the word and my opinion now, based on my experience here, is that trying to get rid of it is pointless because it really is a word that is deeply ingrained (whether or not people want to admit it) in African-American culture.

Saying that though, I think it’s extremely sad that black people choose to use the word at all. To my knowledge, no other ethnic community has taken a word that has been used to subjugate them, started using it themselves and then made themselves believe that they have turned the word into a positive. No – they have just consigned the derogatory word to the past where it belongs and moved on.

If African-Americans (or any other black people) want to use a term for endearment or to describe ourselves, why not choose something else? Why don’t we make up our own word – a word about which we don’t have to have countless debates and discussions regarding whether or not it is positive or negative? 

The argument that the meaning of the N word has now been made positive is a false one. African Americans often use the term to denigrate other black people, so I don’t buy that argument. As a black person, I could still offend another black person if I used the word in a certain way. Furthermore, most black people would also still be very offended if a non-black person called them a nigger (even as a term of endearment), so I don’t really see how the word’s meaning has changed at all.

I personally can’t understand why people can’t find another word to use if they do want to use it as a term of endearment (‘darling’, ‘love’, ‘dear’, ‘sweetie’, ‘honey’ are all quite good!) but I’ve come to accept that nigger is a word that has been used for years, in fact for centuries, and for whatever reason black people still continue to use it today and will continue in the future.

Having not grown up around the word (it has only started being used in England by young black people recently, as a result of hip hop), it has very little meaning or significance for me. It’s certainly not a word I use to define myself or to define others.

My biggest issue with the word is that it is still so negatively powerful and so destructively rich in meaning. Acting as if it means nothing and that it is a harmless term and continuing to use it over and over again actually gives it MORE power rather than reduces it.

If it truly was a harmless word, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion right now and nobody would give too hoots about Nas’ latest song. 

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6 thoughts on “Do You Wanna Be A Nigger?!

  1. Hi Lola!

    I was on the bus in Birmingham, (UK) not so long ago and heard some Asian lads use the P-word to greet each other!

    I totally agree with you about the use of the N-word. I will never use it!

  2. well, it is so disheartening. make your case like this, if i was for instance to call nas’s mother a whore and say to him the more people called her a whore, the less hurtful it would become over time, he would never fall for it.
    so why have african – american fallen for that same B.S?
    they do not all suffer mental retardation, but i think that they have forgotten that just because the civil rights movement was long ago everyone see’s them as equals. the truth is that pieces of paper (the law) were burned and can be destroyed, like in history freed slaves could have their manunmission papers destroyed and be sold into slavery. it is so sad!

  3. You’re right. The word is ubiquitous in America. In an ebonics way, the word serves as the grammatical equivalent of a pronoun. I used the word as a child alot, because I heard so many people use it. My other side of the family (who is very Afrocentric) chastized me strongly for using it. It wasn’t until then, that I realized it was a “bad word”.

    Once I realized the power of the word I also realized that we (Black Americans) can honestly claim the word has been re-defined if a non-black uses the word and it enrages us and justifies violence against that person. Seems to me the original meaning (negative, one used to insult, denote a lower class of person) still holds true.

  4. I have the same opinion. I don’t hear the n-word where I live or around the Black people I know in university in Canada. It might be popular in the big cities but I haven’t been in one for a long time. I absolutely hate that word. Its like a slap in the face every time I hear it. I hate it!

  5. Wadup my niggers! Chill out homies, y’all gotta recognize it’s all good instead of analyzing shit with all your high words. You feeling me?

  6. so really astonish here as i think we should abandon this topic immediately and alert the website owner. As we have been fighting for years on this subject and we are still are on the same page and not moved forword lets put a X the word.

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