My Personal Policy: The N-Word

Note: In order for me to really express how I feel about this word, I’ll have to use it. I won’t use this word unless it fits the context and trust me, it’ll fix the context.


I… Hate… This… Word.

It’s fitting to bid good-bye with the one word that makes me cringe more than George Carlin’s seven dirty words. However, as a black man in America, I come to understand that my people are pretty much… stupid when it comes to this matter. I apologize to all the smart blacks in advance.

Every time I get called one, I had to pause for a bit. Even if it’s someone I know for years, I still can’t help but to think about it. When someone calls me that on the street, I’ll pass them without acknowledgment. If they get offended, and they come up and say it to me, I still pass them. If they insist on calling me that blasted word, I will then proceed to avoid them. I don’t care what they think about me afterward, just as long as they don’t touch me.

So, what’s my beef with nigger? Isn’t nigger just a word? That’s like calling your girlfriend a female dog… and she thinks they are the filthiest of animals. It’s offended to some people, a title of endearment for others… and hella confusing to anyone outside the black race.

Well… in order to understand the reason, you have to understand the power of words. There is a history behind this word. It was used by slave masters and it have the spirit of hatred. Black people were not equals then… and we’re still not equals even now. It’s the ultimate American insult. It described white people’s hatred for Jews, Arabs, Japanesse and so on (White Niggers, Sand Niggers, Japanesse Niggers). But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s an article about what I said and more.

The most confusing aspect of this word is probably in hip-hop. The word runs rampant without restrictions. People who have a problem if you ever mention anything bad (or even good) about Jewish people, but the word nigger? No problem. Wait, you don’t believe that you can’t say anything bad about Jewish people? Let’s examine this claim.

In 1997, when “No Way Out” was released by Bad Boy’s “rapper” Puff Daddy (these days known as Diddy or P.Diddy if you’re in the UK… and no, I’m not joking), there was a song called “It’s All about The Benjamins”. In this song, during Jadakiss’ verse, the word “Herbrew” was omitted out. If you think that it only happened in the censored version, guess again. Even in the original, uncut album, that word is omitted out. You have to find the first cut of this song to get the full impact.

Another example that made the Jewish community did a double take is not even in hip-hop, but by Michael Jackson. In 1996, Michael Jackson released “They Don’t Care About Us”, from the album “HIStory”. The song screams controversy… at least to the Anti-Defamation League. The verse goes as follows:

Jew me, sue me, everybody do me
Kick me, kike me, don’t you black or white me.

When Jackson heard that the league and some Jewish fans was upset, he went as far as offering this statement:

“My intention was for this song to say ‘no’ to racism, anti-Semitism and stereotyping. I intend to include, in all albums that have not been shipped as of this date, the above paragraph so that no one can listen to my music and misconstrue my intentions. Just the idea that my lyrics could offend and hurt anyone’s feelings is extremely painful to me.”

Jackson went as far as to censor his entire verse during live performances. When it didn’t quiet it down, he decided not only to re-record the song, omitting the words and replacing it with well times record-scaratches, he took HIStory off the market and re-released it… out of his own pocket.

While there’s only two examples I can think up, the mere fact that the ADL can show you the power of words. Kike and Jew (as a verb) are not acceptable terms. Why are they so anal?  According to the mission statement of the ADL, they aim to do the following:

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Now the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.

Note that they said “all forms”. They don’t pick or choose a form. If you are saying something bad about Jewish people, prepare for an ass whooping. People would think twice about disrespecting the Jewish people, who ironically don’t outnumber black people in the United States. Jewish people represents a mere 2% of the population verses the roughly 10% of blacks in the US. Yet, everyone would listen to the small population verses the much larger one.

However, the word “nigger” is still used among our people as a term of endearment. Like it’s cool to be a nigger. Why is that? If we look deeper into the problem… it maybe that we either don’t care or there’s a force that want to see us divided. Either ways, it’s missteps like this that keep us back…

… and on a personal note (this is a personal opinion after all), I’m not one who’s going to fight it. I deem it impossible to try and educate people because some people… well, they don’t want to be educated. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. This have also been my problem with pro-black groups and other people that preaches to the choir. There is no way to strip this word down to what it really means.

But at least you see part of my point. In the future, I’ll revisit this controversial topic.

I can’t fully explain why I don’t like this word. However, no one will ever catch me using it as a sign of endearment. I will never call my best friends, my woman, my brothers nor my sisters this word. It’s not in my vocabulary to say this or other racist terms. I’ll be the first to admit that I will have to think twice when I’m around people and try not to say things that will offend them. However, reflection of the people around me is reflection of self…

… and I prefer it if you reflect at least this one value, please.

Julian Curry – Niggers Niggas & Niggaz

Update (April 7, 2009): As I reflect on this, I wanted to at least fix some grammical errors and typos.

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