The “Power” of the N-word

That sure is one cool-looking niggah there!

Welcome back, folks. I do apologize for the length of time that has developed between my last post and now. Sometimes, life has that pesky habit of getting in the way (COVID-19, personal situations, and lazy procrastination), but sometimes all it takes is a little jolt to get things rolling again. To be honest, this is a venture I don’t plan to give up on, even though I serve as this site’s publisher, producer, correspondent, and analyst. In other words, I’m doing this all by myself.

Anyway, let’s get this ball rolling again, shall we?

In my 50+ years of living (as of this post), I have experienced all sorts of situations, circumstances, experiences, and challenges. Unsurprisingly, it’s because of these factors that have made me into the person I am today with all my flaws, abilities, and…whatever. Of course just like anyone else, one of the tools that has been vital in my learning experiences has been the factor of observation.

The power of observation is a powerful helper in our quest to access knowledge. With this faithful ally working on our side, we are able to enhance our learning experiences and take advantage of what we scrutinize at a relative distance. For example, through observation we can learn from others’ mistakes, gain answers to certain questions we may have contemplated, or learn which directions we are to take. Couple this power with what we’ve been taught verbally and our daily walk becomes relatively convenient, albeit life will always be hard, even to those of us who seemingly have the upper hand above most. This is where reality begins to set in because not even the smartest among us has all the answers to life’s encounters. In other words, we are not God.

My personal experiences as a black person tends to open up the floodgates of trouble from time to time. When I share my life story with some of my contemporaries and explain to them that my childhood saga has shaped me into the person I am today, I get scoffed, ridiculed, brushed aside, or even deemed a liar. To them, being a black man means I am part of a monolith in which one black man’s encounters are every black man’s encounters. To think otherwise is a sacrilege to the Apostles of Blackness and opens me up to all kinds of derisive commentary that gets hurled in my direction like a group of arrows flung from different professional archers.

One of these situations I can derive from my personal life’s journal is how we react to the word “nigger.”

Nigger, niggah, nigguh, however you pronounce the word, has been branded by many as the most offensive word in the English language. The infamous n-word has been the source and trigger of heated arguments, fights, and even deaths. Certain groups refrain from using the word for fear of the end results and in an effort to appease certain factions that consider the term to be offensive.

While I myself abstain from using the word (I find it to be not a nice word to say), I do not get offended when I hear it, and that is where I tend to get in trouble.

When I grew up in the 70s and 80s, nigger was a word in much more prolific use than it is today. However, surprisingly, it was usually sent forth by way of black lips way more than white ones. For the most part, I would only hear a white person using the term on TV, as I can recall only twice hearing the word escaping their mouths in actual life. Even on the tube, though, I heard “niggah” uttered way more from black actors through the likes of George Jefferson and Fred Sanford. Furthermore, I’d hear the word prominently on radio and forbidden albums/cassettes that featured the likes of Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy. I became the inadvertent “victim” of the word on my own radio program when another black person referred to me as a “stupid niggah.”

The n-word (whichever variation you use) is deemed to be inappropriate language for the simple fact that it offends a group of people, namely black folks. Many are triggered into angry conniption fits and feel a need to defend their identities whenever they hear it. This is especially true when it is uttered by a non-black member of society, usually white folks.

Black Americans have been brainwashed into believing the myth that all white folks are potential racists and that they bear the responsibility of the mistreatment of black people through slavery and Jim Crow. So, whenever a vanilla man commits a negative action against a chocolate man, Mr. Vanilla is automatically labeled a racist. However, when the action is reciprocated, very few people will condemn Mr. Chocolate as being racist (black folks can’t be racist, remember?). For those of us who like to use logic and reasoning in our observations, this leads to an unmasking of a blatant double standard when it comes to the infamous n-word.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the use of the word “nigger” is unprofessional; but is it offensive? I guess it depends on who you ask.

I grew up in the heyday of the modern hip-hop culture, and while I’m not a fan of this genre of “music”, I am very familiar with what many of its proponents like to hear pushed in their songs. For the most part, if you ever want to hear prolific use of the word “niggah”, one only has to take their pick of the various rap singles that proliferate in our culture, especially “gangsta’ rap.” I will guarantee you will hear a lifetime’s worth barrage of this “offensive” term. So, why is this word acceptable among black gang members and famous rap artists, but is judged racist when uttered by other groups of people (i.e. white people)? Get ready for the double standards.

When asked this question, the Apostles of Blackness will come up with a plethora of excuses:

We use it as a term of endearment.

White folks say “nigger”, black folks say “niggah.” There is a difference.

We use it because we are taking back the power of the word.

Folks, I kid you not. I have heard the above excuses at one time or another. Let’s examine each one.

We use it as a term of endearment. This is laughable. I’d say around 90% of the time, when a black person uses “niggah” to refer to another black person, the sentiment is anything but endearing. Observe a fight between two black people and count the times your hear “niggah” this, and “niggah” that. I’ve also noticed the Apostles of Blackness love to mouth the word in the direction of “sellouts” and “Uncle Toms” as well. I find it very strange that certain black folks have taken a term used by racist white folks to direct it at other blacks who don’t think or speak like them. Very endearing indeed!

White folks say “nigger”, black folks say “niggah.” There is a difference. Um, we wouldn’t have the latter version of the word were it not for the former. Some of us say “gonna” which is a shortened form of “going to”, but we understand they mean the same thing. It’s the same thing with the n-word.

We use it because we are taking back the power of the word. If this is so, why do folks get triggered by the very mention of the word when it’s mentioned by someone who isn’t them? The n-word only gains its power through those who are offended by it. No, “nigger” doesn’t offend me, but I think it is highly advisable for no one, be you black or white, to abstain from using the word altogether as it isn’t a nice name to refer to someone.

Finally, some of you may be appalled at my liberal use of the different variations of the n-word in this article. Well, I’ve noticed fairly recently how we’ve treated the word as though one is cussing, but it’s really a form of patronization in order to coddle to the feelings of a certain group of people. If we feel this way about it, what about terms like cracker, honkey, or whitey? Double standards.

You all have a good day and I’ll see you on the rebound.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s