And, no, this time I’m not talking about “Nerd” I’m talking about Nigger. Or Nigga, depending on how you pronounce it. I’ve meant for awhile now to write a post about why I hate this word, and the way many Black people casually use it with each other, I just never got around to it. Well, a couple of days ago, Piers Morgan, of all people, wrote an article about it for a British website. I heard about it and that there some controversy over it, so I checked it out myself. Before continuing, if you haven’t, I encourage you to read for yourself. I’ll wait.
Frankly, I couldn’t have said it better myself. He covered all the basics, including the history of the word, and it’s rising use among Blacks, and why many Blacks feel that it’s different when they use it, the argument that by using it they are “reclaiming” the word, and taking away it’s power, blah blah blah. You can agree with him or not, whatever. But what vexed me and continues to do so is the way a lot Black people had been responding on Twitter in the aftermath. There’s intense anger and vitriol. People are calling him a racist.
Let that sink in. He wrote an article saying that Nigga is a horrible offensive disgusting word that no one should use, and for that he’s being called a RACIST.
Morgan seemed to be having fun trolling people on Twitter about it. First he changed his cover image to one of him with President and Mrs. Obama and his profile pic is him posing with some other Black folks. And he’s been retweeting tons of negative message people are posting about them, usually adding sarcastic remarks in response to them. So who knows what his real agenda is. But here’s the thing to me, this isn’t even about Piers Morgan, whether you like him or not. Adam Carolla sums up my general thoughts about Piers Morgan here:
But the point is, he’s still right. And the push-back he’s getting is just absurd. One Black woman actually wrote: Never wanted to say the n-word more than when @piersmorgan thinks his opinion on it matters.
Really?!? You want to say it just because someone says that you shouldn’t?!?
A lot of articles have been written in response. The one I found most interesting is this one by a woman named Olivia A. Cole. You should read this for yourself, too:
Like Piers Morgan, she is White. She often writes about racism and racial issues, and women’s issues, from her perspective as a White woman. And I usually agree with her. If you look on the front of this blog, you’ll see her blog listed in my Read These Blogs, Too list. I’ve shared links to various posts of hers here and elsewhere online. I’ve got her book (just haven’t had time to read it yet). Believe me, I’m a fan (and continue to be so). But I have to say the she’s the one coming off a little self-serving in her post. She accuses Morgan of just wanting attention, but much of her post comes off as “Hey, I’m one of the good White people. Unlike him, I won’t step out of line, I’ll never blame Black people for racism!” So who really wants attention (and doesn’t everyone who writes online want attention? I sure do.)?
The funny thing is the way I first found out about Cole in the first place. It was from a Black woman on Facebook, who back in April posted a link on her page to this article Cole wrote about Steve Harvey, and then criticized her, saying things like “Who made this White woman an expert on Blacks? Why does anyone care what she thinks about Steve Harvey?” But then I read the article myself and I thought: Cole’s right. I didn’t disagree with anything Cole wrote (and I always thought Harvey was a little full of himself anyway). So that’s why I started following her blog. But many Blacks folks just resent any White person who writes about race, no matter what they say.
And, in my opinion, the truth is that the so-called N-word is disgusting and dehumanizing. And when Black people use it to describe themselves all they are do is internalizing this degradation. There is nothing empowering about it. You are not reclaiming it. Look, I grew up listening to acts NWA (Niggas With Attitudes), and Tupac, who tried to claim that Nigga stood for Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished, so this is nothing new to me. I’ve heard all the pro-use arguments before, and they suck. If Black folks using it amongst themselves was really “taking away it’s power” then there wouldn’t be any controversy when someone like Jennifer Lopez uses it in a song or Gwyneth Paltrow simply quotes the title of song with that word in it. If anything, instead of taking away the word’s power, it’s been given extra power, to the point where even the most innocuous use of the word by a non-Black person, such as just reporting on the word during a news broadcast, get people upset.
The word has never been part of my regular vocabulary. Anytime I’ve used it I’ve either been quoting someone, joking, or using it to make a point. Like when I wrote my post about sagging pants, I called it SAGGIN = NIGGAS. That was a deliberate choice, I wanted to shock and possibly offend readers. I was using it the same way Chris Rock did when he performed his infamous Black People vs. Niggas comedy routine.
It’s funny. But the underlying theme is that niggas are bad. You don’t want to be a nigga. Going back to Piers Morgan, some folks including Olivia A. Cole objected to a part of his article where he said “Better, surely, to have it expunged completely. Eradicated, obliterated, tied to a literary post and whipped into such brutal submission that it never rears its vicious head again.” When asked about it on Twitter, he said that chosen deliberately. I get it. Again, similar to how I used it. If the imagery of that line makes you uncomfortable then perhaps you should rethink your defense of the word?
One of my friends said the issue was “complicated.” But I say it’s only complicated if you make it so. How about this: Nobody use it. And anyone who does use it should be called out and condemned.
Sounds pretty simple to me.