Saying The “N” Word

Recently ultra-conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh told his radio audience that he can finally say the “N” word because Trayvon Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantell explained it in her interview on CNN and said it’s ok to use it with an “a” at the end (nigga) instead of “er”.  As an African American man I think this whole debate about who can and can not say the “n” word is so tired and played out. Racist are obsessed with who uses it and are constantly asking why can’t they use it.  Rush is a racist idiot and we already knew that so him being so excited to use it isn’t very surprising to me.  Here’s the thing… this whole “n” word controversy is not complicated at all.  Everyone has the right to free speech in this country.  No one has to ask anyone for permission to say any word.  But people have a right to be offended by it as well, and if you’re going to use it you should be prepared for a wide range of possible reactions.  If you are white and decide to use the word it may make some people see you as a racist.  I get so sick and tired of hearing people like Rush whine on and on about “black people say it, why can’t we say it”?  As if freedom of speech doesn’t apply to that word.  So go ahead Rush, use it in any way you want as often as you want… but don’t complain about people reacting negatively to it.  And if you’re in the public eye don’t be surprised when businesses do not want to be associated with someone who appears to be racist.

3 Comments to Saying The “N” Word

  1. CO says:

    As a black man myself, I wonder why or how we are able to tell someone who doesn’t have our skin color not to use it. I know why we say they can’t. My argument is how hypocritical are we to basically taunt them with usage of the word thinking we can own something that gets a number of us hot under the collar when a white person uses it. Are we not practicing segregation in this instance? Why aren’t we removing it from our lexicon when we understand and (incredibly) acknowledge that the word is toxic when used by some “other?” Is this not keeping racism alive?

    Jews have a derogatory word attached to them, but I never heard it until there was an uproar over Michael Jackson’s use in a song. I was 14. That means I went a whole 13 years without hearing a single utterance of the word by Jews or anyone else despite my immersion in as much television and movies as I could consume. I’ve never heard a Jew use the word amongst themselves either. It doesn’t mean they don’t use it, but it’s pretty much a given that no one uses that word in public. Yet we use “nigga” as opposed to “nigger” (and in no way is it a clear deviation from the original anyway) and act like we’re trying to own it. And that bit about trying to own that word is asinine as well.

    Any time someone tries to own anything, they take it and not let it bother them. There’s no way to own nigga if we can’t handle a white person saying it or saying it in reference to us. So here we are being racist ourselves and doubling down on not owning our garbage. We say we want to own it. That it’s our word, but we can’t handle it when it’s in use by an “other.” How exactly do we walk such a hypocritical line and expect respect from anyone else?

    Honestly, if want to own it then we should own it and let it wash off us when other people use it and/or use it against us. That’s how you defeat the negativity in that word. That’s how you strip the power from that word. That’s how you strip the power from anyone else that attempts to use that word on us. Seriously, I let it roll off my back when whites use it because I refuse to give it the kind of power or any power that our brothers and sisters bend over backwards to yield to it. But when I see other black people say it amongst themselves knowing full well the history of the word and how we segregate people with its use…when I think about it, it makes me angry and sick at the same time. We continue to perpetuate racism with that duplicitous and hypocritical stance.

    It’s about damned time we grow up and stop thinking the way we do. I don’t want to see a return to segregation, but I don’t want people to start walking on eggshells around me just because of my skin color. At least I’m more than my skin color and I will not be a racist and use a word that I tell others not to use.

    • Profile photo of DeMon DeMon says:

      Thanks for your comment. I understand your point but it seems to be built on the myth of a collective black consciousness. African Americans have diverse beliefs, opinions, personalities, lifestyles, hopes and dreams etc. Everyone has different feelings about the word. I can’t tell someone what should offend them or how to react when they hear the word in use. My personal objections to the word has everything to do with context and intent. I have used the word on occasion in a non racial way but that does not mean I can’t be offended when someone of another race calls me nigger and uses it as a racial slur. That in no way makes me racist or hypocritical. And I also do not think we should be looking to other ethnic minority groups (such as Jews) as a guide on what to do and how to behave. We have many qualities (both positive and negative) that makes us unique and different, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

      Eventhough you and I aren’t in agreement on this issue, I really appreciate you taking the time to read my post and leaving such a detailed articulate response. I love this kind of intelligent debate, so thanks again.

    • Chris says:

      I hate when people use the N. word, which I even hate abbreviating. It makes me sick to think that someone could hate another so much as to degrade them. What really worries me, is that you care more about skin color, than the action. I used to get beat up in elementary school, middle school, and even high school. We were all white, but that didn’t matter.

      In the end, skin color doesn’t matter … it’s all about intent.

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