Monday, October 09, 2006

The New "Nigger" Protocols

We went to see a movie, this weekend. While hanging out near the video games, we noticed a trio of young men - two of whom decided to play the shoot'em-up game near us.

The two would-be gun-slingers appeared to be in their very late teens. One was white. One was Black.

Once the game began, the two young men really got into it. They became engrossed in whatever virtual world they were either protecting or assaulting. As young men tend to do, at these times, they broadcast a few impromptu taunts, here and there.

One of the things the Black male said was, "Yeah, Nigga," with a HUGE cheesey grin on his face... right next to his white friend who seemed unphased. I quickly checked with my girlfriend to confirm that I'd heard what I thought I'd heard.

Soon after that, the white male said the same thing. "That's right, Nigga!"

"Well, now I KNOW it's time to go," I said.

I've seen it on television (specifically in a reality show called "Black/White"), in my front yard as young neighbors walked through (yes, I walked out there and told them that if they just HAD to use that word, I'd appreciate it if they didn't do so on my property), and on the radio, but it catches me off-guard, each time.

"It" being the willingness of young white people to openly use the word "nigger" (and variations thereof), as well as the willingness of young Black people to allow this to occur in their presence without opposition.

By the way, "opposition" does not necessarily mean "violence."

Even within this new generation's very different dynamic, there still appear to be SOME rules to what's acceptable usage of the term by white friends and associates, but it all rubs me the wrong way.

Anyway, as we were leaving the area, I noticed the third member of their little group eyeballing me. This annoyed me, but I didn't go all screw-faced on him - thankfully. I'm grateful for my reservation because, before I reached the corner, I decided to go back to those young men and politely ask them about this new set of social rules.

My girlfriend semi-endorses these "episodes" of mine, but she prefers to do so from a distance, so she went to look at more movie posters while I approached the young men, again.

The two video game players were still engrossed in the game, although at least one of them glanced in my direction with obvious curiosity.

I got the attention of the third guy, who was sitting in the seat of a video racing game.

"Excuse me, sir," I said. As he turned to me, I continued, "I see you're trying to eat and have a good time, so I'm sorry to disturb you, but I really wanted to ask you something, if that's okay."

He'd just taken a big bite out of his food, so he nodded his agreement.

"Are you about the same age as those two young men?"

He kind of shrugged and nodded, suggesting that he was around their ages. Since he still had food in his mouth, I guessed, "You're close to their ages, right? Are you older than they are or younger?"

A little older.

I began to tell him that when we were sitting near them, their conversation took a surprising turn, but he interrupted me saying, "I know what you mean," in a very understanding, perceptive tone.

He went on to say that he's told them, in the past, that you just can't do that in public, but all he can do, he says, is tell them.

"Right. People will do what they want to do," I volunteered.

I had to inquire, though, "Are YOU comfortable with your white friends and acquaintances using that word so casually, especially around you?"

He said he was not. "I don't go around calling them 'honky,'" he reasoned.

Either he's older than I thought or those "Jefferson's" reruns are pretty popular on Nick-At-Nite.

But his point was well-taken.

He went on to repeat that he can tell them, but they do it, anyway. I told him that I felt similarly (although being in public wasn't my only concern), but that it's become clear that the younger generation sees it much differently than I do - some of them, anyway.

"Each generation has their own way of dealing with things, even regarding matters of race. Often, their methods displease people of the previous generations, but that doesn't mean they're wrong.

Now, *I'm* from that previous generation and I have a problem with this method of neutering those kinds of words, but that doesn't mean it's a bad idea... even though I feel, somewhat strong, that it IS a bad idea."

My point was that a lot of ignorances diminish with successive generations and that's often for the best, even if the "old fogies" don't approve. So, I thought I'd try to peer into their world a little bit to get a better idea of how they saw things.

I still can't say that I fully agree with their methods - especially since so many of them seem to be so ignorant of what's really going on (as I see it, anyway). But sometimes, the ends really do justify the means.

Now, I'm going to buck it, because I have to do what *I* think is right, but I think it'd be hypocritical and intellectually dishonest of me to fail to make good-faith efforts to see where the other side is coming from.



What do you think about "The New 'Nigger' Protocols?" In other words, what do you think about the new generation's ways of (deliberately or otherwise) neutering the power and venom of the word "nigger," - specifically as it relates to white (and other non-Black) people's casual usage of the term?

I can respect the "movement," if you will, on some levels, but mostly, I'm glad that there are young people out there, like the one who was kind and mature enough to speak with me as he did.



(I'll be really surprised if 'Hip-Hop' isn't brought up at some point in this conversation.)

55 comments:

Luke Cage said...

Heck man, I'll bring up Hip Hop right away as a matter of fact. Don't you know what the new argument is now.

"I didn't say Nigger! I said "Nigga" man... With an "A", not an "ER!" Didn'cha know that West? Daaaag! It don't mean the same thing!

Luke Cage said...

I forgot the Hip Hop angle. When we say Nigga in rap songs, its different than when you say Nigger vocally. Nigga in rap songs is supposed to be understood that its use is one of a term of endearment. I thought everyone knew that! (isn't that sad man?)

West said...

Yeah. I've heard the "nigga"/"nigger" distinction. I remain unimpressed.

I agree with you. It's the word.

beef mug said...

West,

Why do you think this is a new thing? It's been going on now for at least 10 years or so. At least since I moved to the US. Is there something else to this phenomenon that I'm missing. I remember watching 'Kids' the movie 10 years ago and hearing a white city kid say 'nigga this and nigga that'.

Anyhow, I agree with you that it is a very objectionable word to use. It disgusts me to no end.

West said...

Hey, beef.

I think it's a much more prevalent philosophy in this generation - whether you want to define that generation by decades or otherwise.

But I'm sure you're right that it's not brand new.

Luke Cage said...

You know I was saying that to be sarcastic right man? I don't agree with neither "description" of the word. Like yourself, totally unimpressed. I always posed the question to myself if I were a rapper, would I use the word in my lyrics and there was an emphatic NO.

Not with so many other words in the english language to use that I happen to find less demeaning and degrading. However, I've had buddies in my circle use the word before in reference to me. I let it go sometimes because it was just the same rhetoric told over and over again with the same result.

But it also serves court on those rare occasions where they actually think twice before using any incarnation or variant of that word towards me too...

West said...

I absolutely feel you on this.

That last sentence supposed to say, "It's the same word, [regardless]."

I wouldn't be a very popular rapper, either, because I feel that we send the wrong message (plus I feel like it's a disservice to our ancestors) when we use the word in that way.

I get the philosophy. I just don't completely embrace it... especially when it morphs from *our* usage of the term into *their* usage of the term.

Newy said...

This current generation seems a little too willing to assimilate for me. They compromise morals and beliefs (some of them don't have either to begin with) a little to quickly just to be accepted for my taste. I don't think it is acceptable by either blacks or whites to use the term. Regardless to how they think they are using it, the word is still derived from the desire to inflict pain through words. It is an inflammatory phrase that should be phased out. I tell my sons that Nicca/nigga/niggar and ANY variations therof are just like saying shyt in my opinion. All we can do is educate and try to get this generation to understand. But *shrug* this is the same generation that thinks we "owe" them something.

chele said...

Public or private. With an 'er' or an 'a'. It's all the same and it's intolerable. It's ugly and it's painful.

Doug said...

What's up West?

I'm definitly in this generation you're talking about. I remember when I was a senior in HS, one of my friend's Travis(who was black), who I played basketball with since 6th grade told someone who was around us that I could call him "nigger" and he wouldn't care.

I didn't ask why. I just assumed that he meant he knew me well enough, that if I called him that I didn't mean anything by it.

I also remember being around other black kids, and if I said something off the wall, they'd laugh and say something like Doug, you're a crazy "nigga". I never called them that back, either in the "nigger" or "nigga" sense of the word, but as far as they always told me. Nigga was just a new way to say homeboy or whatever.

And then, I had a black roomate in college who asked me if white kids said "nigga" when it came up in a song, or if we just kind of skipped over it. I told him that some do and some don't. I asked if he cared one way or the other, he said not at all.

So there's a few of my stories regarding "the new nigger protocols".

And for anyone wondering, I am white.

Stoяmy Dazέ said...

I don't like it!!!

No way shape or form. It's just not right, from anyone.

the Nigger/Nigga thing is no different than Butta/Butter--It's all the same thing.

James Meeley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stoяmy Dazέ said...

James I am very sorry, I know this isn't my blog...

But I can't let that go.

Whether we were ignorant or not "back in the day" doesn't justify being called nigger.

"Back in the day" the slaves made the best of a bad situation, and were very intelligent with the what they had. They were eager...that was my perception from watching the movies and what I learned in my African American Studies Classes.

Not many ignorant folks could keep a house, work the fields and raise kids to be obedient, and still have faith that one day they would be freed.

In my opinion that shows not only strength and courage...But wisdom as well.

Just my humble opinion.

West said...

That's really interesting, Doug. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

I mean that sincerely, by the way. (The way I speak sometimes makes people think I'm being sarcastic when I'm not.)

I may have questions, at some point, but I just need to absorb, for now... and read some more.

James Meeley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
West said...

re: "This is coming from a "cracker", just so everyone knows."

:p

re: "I agree with West that it's not right. But maybe not for the same reasons he does."

So, I see. :-)

I disagree with some of what you've said here, but before I got too deeply into that, I wanted to thank you for sharing your perspective - regardless.

Open dialogue ain't always pretty, but I tend to think it's pretty necessary.

Now... WHO YOU CALLIN' "NIGGA?!"

j/k

re: "There's no denying the connotations of what they word is meant to mean. But I look at the context of it. For me, nigger/nigga is an insulting term, not merely because of it's ties to racism and slavery, but because of the deeper meaning behind even that. You see, I believe nigger/nigga isn't about a skin color. It's about an attitude. A white guy, or asian, or hispanic could be one, just as much as a black man.

To be one, means to be ignorant, uneducated and of a lower mental standard than most others. Back in the days of slavery, that's what black folks were (or at least, how they were believed to be). It was how they were kept. They didn't have the choice to be anything else, because it was not allowed."


This pretty much co-signs anyone, back in the days of slavery, referring to a Black person as a "nigger."

In fact, it pretty much endorses calling someone the same thing, today, if one deems them to be of "lower mental standard" or one of your other qualifiers.

I disagree.

I know this was just part of your "definition," but I felt it deserved attention.

Among other things, the term, in my opinion, represents an endorsement of the oppression and brutality associated with slavery and the pre-Civil Rights era, in general. It is a way of dehumanizing a fellow human-being.

No matter what a Black person did, back then or now, no matter how much they accomplished, they were still less than any white person imaginable... less than any farm animal.

It is an imposition of one person upon another.

re: "Today, I think it is more insulting than it was back then, simply because, for the most part, everyone has the oppertunity to be better than that. While the world is still far from perfect and equal, there also is not a concerned effort to keep a specific race from being more than that. Today to be a nigger/nigga is a choice, not a hardship.

The reason it's more insulting today, is that the very ancestors who were forced to be that way, would probably look at all the oppertunities a black man has today and think our world a virtual utopia by comparison of their own. Furthermore, I'm sure they'd be shocked and disgusted at just how many black man (and men of other races, too) take those very rights and freedoms for granted and choose to be a nigger/nigga of their own free will, because if those ancestors had a choice, you know they'd not choose that path for themselves."


I'd be more inclined to say, as I suggested before, that they'd be ashamed to see how we choose to refer to each other in this very hurtful way - even if many of them did it.

(Hell, even Celie (sp?) thought Harpo should be Sophia... despite having been brutalized, herself.)

re: "Just like the ones who used the term way back, today it is also used out of ignorance. But where in the past it was one made from society, today it is of a much more personal nature. And that, more than anything, makes it even more insulting today.

Just one (white) man's thoughts...."


Interesting stuff.

West said...

re: "James I am very sorry, I know this isn't my blog..."

Just so you know, it doesn't have to be.

If there's something on this blog that moves you to respond, due to agreement, disagreement, neutrality, apathy, or whatever, please do so - even if it's me you're with whom you're disagreeing or whatever.

We may get nicked up a bit, but I'm hoping we can dust ourselves off and keep progressing - to mutual understanding, if not like-mindedness.

Your opinions are welcome here. I hope you don't stifle them just because this ain't your turf.

(Although I understand that emotion, better judgement, etc. are worthwhile reasons for self-censoring.)





That applies to just about everyone, by the way. Thanks for all of your input and feedback.

West said...

re: "Whether we were ignorant or not "back in the day" doesn't justify being called nigger.

I never said it did. I'm sorry if you thought I was implying that. I wasn't."


I think she's right. From my perspective, that's what you said, whether you meant to or not.

You said that they were niggers. So, whether you meant that they should be called that or not, is a hair too fine to split.

re: ""Back in the day" the slaves made the best of a bad situation, and were very intelligent with the what they had.

I agree. But today the situation is not that bad and the options are greater, yet there are those who choose to be that way anyway. Hence why I think the term is more insulting now, than before."


Those who choose to be "niggers?" Since you're using the term to refer to the ignorant, it seems that you're saying there are those who choose to be "niggers."

re: "Just my humble opinion.

And I agree with it. But it doesn't invalidate what I was trying to say, either. Believe me, i was trying to pick my words carefully, as not to offend. Sprry if I failed in that with you. I can only try harder in the future. :)"


I hope this feedback helps.

James Meeley said...

I hope this feedback helps.

Not as much as I'd like, but I appreciate it anyway.

I think, though, that for the sake of preventing any issues later with this, I'll simply say I'm wrong and am sorry for involving myself in this discussion. I probably should have known better, since I've all too often learned that when you talk about a sensitive topic, no matter how gentle you try to approach it, you are just going to set people off.

I apologize to you, West, for contributing to that happening here. And even if you have no problem with it, that still didn't make it right. I'll be more mindful in the future. Sorry again.

West said...

It's unfortunate that you feel that you needed to say you're wrong, when you don't seem to believe it, and that you never should have involved yourself in this conversation.

If you're unwilling to show how what you said means something else or if you think that would prove fruitless, that's also unfortunate.

I still think that you said X, even if you meant Y, but I've been in enough misunderstandings and whatnot to know that sometimes you just feel it best to pack up and walk away.

James Meeley said...

I still think that you said X, even if you meant Y, but I've been in enough misunderstandings and whatnot to know that sometimes you just feel it best to pack up and walk away.

Thanks for understanding this. Although, I do believe I was wrong. Just not how you think I meant. I was wrong to get involved in the discussion. And on that, I 100% believe I was wrong.

I simply don't want this to spiral to the point someone ends up hurting someone else's feelings or saying something they might later regret. I've been down this type of road before to tell a "powderkeg" when I see one. No good ever comes of it.

Better I should just walk away. And again, I'm sorry to everyone here.

West said...

With or without comment from you, I'm going to remark on what you've said, James. I hope you don't mind.

I get that you think what you did wrong was to even enter this conversation. That suggests that there's something about YOU that made this conversation something to be avoided.

Since you haven't rescinded your position, but your willingness to share it, I believe the only "wrong" you think you've committed is having shared the truth, as you see it, with some people who were willing to discuss this topic. I might go so far as to even say with some *Black* people (as we are the group most likely to have the sort of response you mention).

In other words, you've nothing to apologize to us for because you don't really seem to think you said or did anything truly wrong TO us. You seem to think that you did yourself a disservice by doing something that experience told you was a bad idea... and maybe you're sorry if anyone else was hurt or offended, in the process.

I think that's a very important distinction and one that would accomplish very little if adopted by everyone else.

James Meeley said...

In other words, you've nothing to apologize to us for because you don't really seem to think you said or did anything truly wrong TO us. You seem to think that you did yourself a disservice by doing something that experience told you was a bad idea... and maybe you're sorry if anyone else was hurt or offended, in the process.

That's a pretty fair assessment of it. Especially that bit at the end.

I wasn't out to hurt or offend anyone. As I said, I tried to pick my words carefully to avoid it. I failed and for that I am truly sorry.

Believe me, no one knows better how easily people today can get offended or hurt by something you say (or type). Even if that wasn't the intent or goal of what you did. It's why I try to be so careful in such discussions. But it seems I just can't master (no pun intended) the skill to do so.

That's why I said I'd be more mindful in the future. I'll just stick to rationalizing why the Kingpin might out-power Spidey. Less risk of causing someone offense or harm that way. ;)

I think that's a very important distinction and one that would accomplish very little if adopted by everyone else.

I'd agree, if the time and place of the discussion were different. In Congress, or some seat of power, which can cause a chain reaction that effects us all, then I completely agree. You need to take your stand.

But at an online blog? You have to pick and choose your battles, West. And an online forum, that's not even a person's own, that 99.9% of the population probably doesn't even know exists, doesn't seem like the one to take a stand at. Especially if it will only run the risk of anger, resentment and discord with others in doing so and not change a damn thing in any way that matters.

In that case, I'd rather err to the side of caution.

Rider said...

Commenting on something that was said awhile ago in the comments, butter/butta is not the same as nigger/nigga.

If you ask the difference between the former, everyone will understand what butter/butta is. The only difference is pronunciation.

Ask people the difference between nigger/nigga,especially people between the age of 15 and 30, and people will say it's a different way of pronouncing, but many will also tell you there's different meaning behind it.

You don't have to like that reasoning, but for some that's enough to justify using it.

Rider said...

And just to add one more thing. Just because something isn't good for you, doesn't mean it shouldn't or can't be good for others.

West said...

re: "I'd agree, if the time and place of the discussion were different. In Congress, or some seat of power, which can cause a chain reaction that effects us all, then I completely agree. You need to take your stand.

But at an online blog? You have to pick and choose your battles, West. And an online forum, that's not even a person's own, that 99.9% of the population probably doesn't even know exists, doesn't seem like the one to take a stand at. Especially if it will only run the risk of anger, resentment and discord with others in doing so and not change a damn thing in any way that matters."


I'm not suffering from delusions of grandeur, for myself or my blog.

I just think that this world doesn't just operate from Congress or corporate boardroom. It is the interactions between everyday individuals, it is their physical, mental, and emotional rigor, which makes this world what it is... or what it is not.

No, a blog or other online forum isn't everything, but it's far from nothing. As far as I'm concerned, it's quite similar to an in-person conversation. In such a conversation, as I say, I wouldn't want EVERYone to adopt the policy that you have... because it WOULD make a damned difference in this world.

The day that we don't think we can or do is the day that we begin making the kinds of changes we might not want to make... consciously or not.

re: "In that case, I'd rather err to the side of caution."

Obviously, everyone has to choose their battles. I thought I made it clear that I got that, in my previous comment. You seemed to have interpreted the message as-intended.

At any rate, let it be known that if you should ever change your mind, your opinions are welcome.

West said...

re: "Commenting on something that was said awhile ago in the comments, butter/butta is not the same as nigger/nigga.

If you ask the difference between the former, everyone will understand what butter/butta is. The only difference is pronunciation.

Ask people the difference between nigger/nigga,especially people between the age of 15 and 30, and people will say it's a different way of pronouncing, but many will also tell you there's different meaning behind it.

You don't have to like that reasoning, but for some that's enough to justify using it."


If you ask someone the difference between "butta" and "butter," they may make a similar distinction to the one some make between "nigga" and "nigger."

"Butta" might refer to someone's "juice," "mojo," (thanks, Austin Powers!) or coolness. "Smooth like butta."


The implications of saying "nigga," though, are far greater than those associated with saying "butta."

West said...

re: Rider's "And just to add one more thing. Just because something isn't good for you, doesn't mean it shouldn't or can't be good for others."

Let's take this out of the abstract, for a moment, then.

How, in your estimation, might the use of "nigga/nigger" be "good for others?" That's a real question, by the way, not sarcasm.

Stoяmy Dazέ said...

Wow, this is a terrific post, and what better way to see how some of us think.

@ rider, I know how some especially young black youth feel about the word nigga, I am in that age bracket. This is just simply my opinion.

I don't even like the word the negro because of the relation to degrading term "nigger"

And even though it may be acceptable to some for me greet my friends as "Nigga" It's not acceptable to me, to greet or be greeted that way.

@James, I am not offended, just giving an opinion.

Anonymous said...

By the way, James, I'm not pissed.

I just thought that it was worthwhile to follow you suppositions to their logical, if disagreeable, conclusions.

That feedback gives you the opportunity to work on how phrase things, while you explanations provide us with the opportunity to work on how we interpret things... assuming we're all open and willing.

I guess that I just hope that you see that these discussions gave positive potential, as well as negative... for whatever that's worth, even if you still choose to withdraw.

-West

Rider said...

"Smooth like butta." is still butta/er. The definition of the word itself, in that sentence means the same exact thing as it always does. Even if you put butter in there, the phrase gets the same message across. Butter/butta doesn't make the word mean different things.

As far as the "good for others" thing, I guess I don't mean good, but acceptable. To them, the word, when pronounced with an a and not er means two totally different things. If that's good enough for them, I wouldn't worry about it too much. If it's notthe right word for you, simply don't use it.

Are there other words you can substitute for nigga. I'm sure there are many. But nigga is cool now, and it's probably never going away.

West said...

re: Rider's ""Smooth like butta." is still butta/er. The definition of the word itself, in that sentence means the same exact thing as it always does. Even if you put butter in there, the phrase gets the same message across. Butter/butta doesn't make the word mean different things."

Perhaps, but as you say... "You don't have to like that reasoning, but for some that's enough to justify using it."

re: Rider's "As far as the "good for others" thing, I guess I don't mean good, but acceptable. To them, the word, when pronounced with an a and not er means two totally different things. If that's good enough for them, I wouldn't worry about it too much. If it's notthe right word for you, simply don't use it.

Are there other words you can substitute for nigga. I'm sure there are many. But nigga is cool now, and it's probably never going away."


You say this as if words have no power - as if they aren't affective.

They are. Until they cease to be, these kinds of things will continue to come up. They will continue to affect people.

So, with respect, telling people to simply not use the word doesn't solve the problem, as many see it.

It's like you're telling someone who's being beaten up to simply not beat up anyone else. That doesn't spare them the pain of the experience, despite your good intentions.

Rider said...

No, I'm saying, just because someone's reason for saying that word isn't enough for you, that doesn't mean they shouldn't say it.

If their reasoning for using the word is good enough for them, that's all that matters.

If a group of kids is around saying "yeah nigga" to each other, it's not their problem, you have a problem with it. If you can't understand why they say it, it's not on them to make you understand.

When they say "yeah nigga" to each other, they aren't thinking about the emancipation proclamation. They're thinking "yeah dude" "Yeah boy" or whatever. Why they chose to use that word as a replacement is beyond me, but it is what it is.

West said...

re: "No, I'm saying, just because someone's reason for saying that word isn't enough for you, that doesn't mean they shouldn't say it."

I don't think I've seen any part of your opinion or position that acknowledges the affects that words have on other people.

Am I missing something?

Rider said...

"Am I missing something?"

Obviously, or this post wouldn't exist.

If you know the reason younger kids say nigga, and you know that to them it has nothing to do with the word nigger, why would you get upset about it? Those words aren't one in the same to the kids using it. Once you understand that much, I can't comprehend why it would bother you so much after that.

If you think they are one in the same and it bothers you, fine. Don't use it, but don't expect that everyone else should feel that way.

Why would those kids feel bad about using a word, when to them it's synonomous with homie? Because, it hurts your feelings? Too bad, you just don't get it, and they shouldn't have to waste their time making sure you do.

I'm not saying you should have to understand why they should use it either. It's a generation gap. It's nothing more, and it's nothing less.

All I can say is that if you know what the mean by the word, and still get hurt after that, you're being too sensitive.

Rider said...

I'll even add this, I can understand someone being bothered if they hear any other black woman say about a black man "I would never date that broke nigga". In that sentence, the word nigga probably means the original use of the word.

But if you hear a kid say about their favorite player "that's my nigga", you should be smart enough to know he means that's my dude. That's my main man, etc..

West said...

I was fine with discussing this issue with you until your tone took a turn for the worst.

Have a good one.

princessdominique said...

The "er" or "a" thing just makes me shake my head because if you're being factual it's not like they intentionally (in the beginning) used the "a" instead of the "er" it has to do with not enunciating or using lazy improper speech. It's the same word nevertheless. JLo tried squeezing the word into one of her songs to make it more edgy and faced a huge backlash from fans and non-fans alike. We grew up blocks away from each other and if she's really from the block she'd know we don't say that.

Rider said...

Well to sum it up real nice and neatly, just read the title of your blog to yourself. If you understand what the title means, you probably shouldn't be offended by the use of the word anymore.

Now that I know what I'm dealing with here, I probably won't be back. Dealing with overly sensitive people annoys me about as much as Christians who fear Harry Potter.

West said...

There's a difference between what you know about something and how you feel about something.

You don't see to get that, along with quite a few other things, so you're certainly welcome to free yourself from annoyance I and my blog inflict upon you.

Luke Cage said...

Rider, what in the world are you talking about man? Overly sensitive people??? Know the history of the word first before you make a comment like that. Come on now. The N word was at the very foundation of the condition of the mental and physical slavery suffered by black people. Where else in history has any one race called that damn word (or name) and made to suffer the degradation, humiliation and even emasculation that is inflicted upon black people?

No other people have been made to live perpetually for more than 400 plus years with the stigma and the lies that go with it.

Our ancestors fought on every level, at every turn, and against every attempt to force us to be looked at or treated like niggers. If you were to count the endless
slave revolts and rebellions in America, the Caribbean and Africa, and other parts of the world, these uprisings were consistent struggles by blacks against it.

Do you know anything about the Civil Rights Era? It was about black people struggling on all levels NOT to be called that damn word. Blacks fought to be treated like human beings with an equal right to freedom, full equality and justice. Why? Because its our natural born right!

Yes, there are those in the current society and the world at large who unfortunately would like to see ourselves and have the entire globe treat us as niggers.

There are blacks out there right now who still fight against the use of it and should recruit others to fight the use of that word in any way that they can.

Nobody, in any incarnation, variant or straight up spelling of the word should be called that, whether it is used by us or others, it's historically tied to the intention of putting blacks down. That is it! No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Blacks ancestors' are turning in their graves over the gratuitous use over it. And while the younger generation and even those in mine that for whatever reason, continue to be unaware of it's meaning and history, that is no damn excuse.

Think for a second about those who use it to put us down and don't use it directly, but in a subliminal fashion and trying to get over on us. I can only wonder what they are thinking. We shouldn't allow anyone to use it. That word is like an albatross and shackles around our necks and on our minds. Don't come back then. Trust me man. You won't be missed. Damn West. That dude needs a serious reprogramming session man!

Rider said...

That was all beautifully put Lucas, but I'm just telling you the thought process of those who use that word in street slang fashion. Obviously you don't like it, but you're damn sure gonna live with it.

And if by overly sensitive people you thought I meant black people in general, you were wrong. That comment was directed at West, and West alone. However, now I feel pretty comfortable throwing you in that category too. Otherwise why would you go into an 8 page discertation on African American History when my "overly sensitive" comment had nothing to do with black community?

Young kids use nigga to say homie. You don't like it? Okay. But that's the way it is. That's all I've been trying to say.

Peace.

Son of Blog-El said...

Holy Crap! I go away for awhile and you start a storm of controversy! I haven't seen this much activity since Paris Hilton's last case of herpes.

My test came back negative by the way.

About the topic at hand...

I am blessed with a rainbow coalition of friends. None of them have used this word around me. I don't use the word at all, unless I am literally quoting someone who has used it in a serious conversation. None of my boys have used it since Richard Pryor's routine about going to Africa and having his eyes opened about the word. I look at it like this, if you call yourself a nigger, don't be surprised if others ask you if its okay to call you a nigger. 'Cause make no mistake when you do this you are a nigger.

Kids toda, man...

Luke Cage said...

1,2,3,4...damn Rider. Actually, I only went on a 7 page discertation.. Just wanted to make that clear..

Son of Blog-El said...

Yo, Cage, let it go, I think the Rider has ridden on. For the record, I understand what he is saying, but I think that it is a false arguement trying to say the kids mean it a different way.

Tell you what, the next time you're out with your girlfriend, wife or whatever, try introducing them as "your bitch" or "ho". I guarantee you are going to get some looks.

If women were to go around calling themselves "hos" and/or "bitches" do you think well of them?

West said...

re: "Yo, Cage, let it go, I think the Rider has ridden on. For the record, I understand what he is saying, but I think that it is a false arguement trying to say the kids mean it a different way."

I always understood his points, despite disagreeing with many of them.

I agree that some kids, hell, some ADULTS, don't mean anything negative by calling themselves and others "niggas."

Heck, I even came up with a reason for why some of them might be doing it (although I don't think all of them are consciously trying to redefine the word).

I still don't feel good about the word.

re: "Tell you what, the next time you're out with your girlfriend, wife or whatever, try introducing them as "your bitch" or "ho". I guarantee you are going to get some looks."

If women were to go around calling themselves "hos" and/or "bitches" do you think well of them?"


This actually substantiates Rider's point, since people already do these things without (some folks) taking it negatively.

Friends will call each other "bitch" and "motherfucker" and all sorts of rude things, because they're cool with each other and don't mean anything by it, really.

This is why I acknowledge that there's some validity to the other side's position (despite the fact that some snide comments fail to recognize that tip o' the hat on my part).

I just don't fully agree with them.

Miz JJ said...

Only people with limited vocabularies with limited understanding of the world go around calling each other nigga/nigger or bitches and hoes. I'll be more blunt. In my opinion only low class or ignorant people talk that way. Interesting post and comments.

Son of Blog-El said...

Friends will call each other "bitch" and "motherfucker" and all sorts of rude things, because they're cool with each other and don't mean anything by it, really.

See, this is why I have no "street cred" anymore. I don't roll with people that roll that way.

This is why I acknowledge that there's some validity to the other side's position (despite the fact that some snide comments fail to recognize that tip o' the hat on my part).

I did see that you were acknowledging his point. I guess I do, too. I'll be damned if I agree that it is a valid one. If all of your friends were to jump off a bridge would you follow them?

The childish reply is, "I don't know, how high is the bridge?"

What this shows IMHO, is that you are willing to compromise your principles and common sense to "get along".

Now THAT is f'ed up.

Son of Blog-El said...

Only people with limited vocabularies with limited understanding of the world go around calling each other nigga/nigger or bitches and hoes. I'll be more blunt. In my opinion only low class or ignorant people talk that way. Interesting post and comments.

Amen, to that sister...

West said...

re: "I did see that you were acknowledging his point. I guess I do, too. I'll be damned if I agree that it is a valid one.

I don't understand.

You "acknowledge" his point, as I do, but you don't agree that it's (partially) "valid?"

That seems somewhat contradictory. In what way are you acknowledging his point besides... recognizing that it exists?

re: "If all of your friends were to jump off a bridge would you follow them?

The childish reply is, "I don't know, how high is the bridge?""


I don't get the significance of the question.

The point of bringing up the fact that some friends call each other things that would be considered insults by others is that it parallels the issue at-hand (i.e. friends referring to each other as "niggers" without meaning or causing any harm to one another).

Even if "motherfucker" is too strong, "doofus" qualifies, as do a number of sarcastically benign comments.

The point isn't that "they do it, so everyone should." The point is that the two situations aren't completely dissimilar, so if you get one then you might not be too far from getting the other.

re: "What this shows IMHO, is that you are willing to compromise your principles and common sense to "get along".

Now THAT is f'ed up."


That's a surprising interpretation. Apparently, my point wasn't very clear.

I hope the above helps.

Son of Blog-El said...

That seems somewhat contradictory. In what way are you acknowledging his point besides... recognizing that it exists?

That is another definition of the word "acknowledge". I can recognize or acknowledge someone else's viewpoint without agreeing to its validity. The first thing I learned in debating class is how to take a postion you would not normally agree with and argue it with my opponent. It sticks with me to this day and sometimes this makes my remarks sound contradictory.

I re-read your post to see if I missed something in your original statement and I did indeed. If you are saying you recognize the validity of his arguement that friends can call each other whatever they want to and it doesn't mean anything because it doesn't mean anything to the recipient, then you are willing to go farther that I.

I have heard the arguements before that this is the way to take the power away from the word "nigger". I understand the arguement but, don't buy it. To me, it seems as if some white people are dying to call us "niggers" and this is the perfect way to do it because apparently, we see and call ourselves that anyway. Too many of us have fought too long and hard to be recognized as "real" human beings to let this happen because someone wants to be "down with the brothas" and the "brothas" themselves are too ignorant to know better.

Let me wrap this up with a question of semantics, (excuse the pun) "What do you call a black doctor?"

Good talking to you again, my brother. This is definitely becoming the site I come to when I want to think...

West said...

re: "That is another definition of the word "acknowledge". I can recognize or acknowledge someone else's viewpoint without agreeing to its validity."

Hopefully, you won't mind me exploring this point but...

What is the value of such statements of acknowledgement (i.e. "I did see that you were acknowledging his point. I guess I do, too. ")? We know you saw what was said, so that's not new information and you seem to be in-doubt (i.e. "I guess...") as to whether you acknowledge it or not. That strongly suggests something (a little or a lot) more than just saying you see and comprehend the words on the screen.

All that left (in my mind, anyway) was acknowledgement of the partial or full validity of the statements. Otherwise, it seems like a statement without a message.

That's why it seemed contradictory, to me, when you later denied any validity in the opposing argument.

(How that for semantics? :p )

re: "I re-read your post to see if I missed something in your original statement and I did indeed. If you are saying you recognize the validity of his arguement that friends can call each other whatever they want to and it doesn't mean anything because it doesn't mean anything to the recipient, then you are willing to go farther that I."

*Some* validity.

Obviously, with most things, there are limits. I've got a friend (now an ex-friend, I guess) who was quick as hell to say "nigga" this or that. When she was referring to other people, I didn't say shit about it. When she was referring to me, I called her on it... occasionally, at first - then every single time she did it. (I tried to give her a second to adjust.)

Now, she'd call you "nigga" and she was okay with being called the same, apparently, but call her a "bitch" and it's on.
Clearly, it's about degrees or drawing our don't-cross-me lines in different places.

I think you hear me, more or less, but I don't see the acknowledgement of degrees. That's essential to my point and it's clearly one of the elements that Rider somehow missed, throughout my original post.

There ARE some generally objectionable things that friends may understandable call each other, from time to time. Some are incredibly benign - others, not so much.

If intent is so the difference between friends getting pissed for being called X today and being called X, tomorrow, then it's at least predictable that some people might allow intent to trump "nigga." There's *some* validity to it, which anyone who's ever sarcastically referred to a friend or loved-one as a "genius" (or something similar) ought to understand.

re: "I have heard the arguements before that this is the way to take the power away from the word "nigger". I understand the arguement but, don't buy it. To me, it seems as if some white people are dying to call us "niggers" and this is the perfect way to do it because apparently, we see and call ourselves that anyway. Too many of us have fought too long and hard to be recognized as "real" human beings to let this happen because someone wants to be "down with the brothas" and the "brothas" themselves are too ignorant to know better."

That's sounds a lot like how I feel about it all. But I don't think the other side's argument is completely without merit.

Son of Blog-El said...

That's sounds a lot like how I feel about it all. But I don't think the other side's argument is completely without merit.

Glad to hear that we understand each other. I thought our opinions on this were pretty close. As far as the other side not being completely without merit...tell you what, I'll do some more ponderin' on that stuff as my great-grandma used to say.

Shai said...

West, I tend to use it less as I get older. I usually use it loosely to mention men usually really ignorant men.

I heard my daughter, who is 16 say it to a female friend. I had to check her. So now I am working on not using it myself. I barely use and actually want to stop.

princessdominique said...

I love this discussion. As long as people can be civil everyone gets heard.