“The word nigger to colored people of high and low degree is like a red rag to a bull. Used rightly or wrongly, ironically or seriously, of necessity for the state of realism, or impishly for the sake of comedy, it dosen’t matter…The word nigger, you see, sums up for us who are colored all the bitter years of insult and struggle in America.”
Racial slurs victimize and demean all ethnic groups. Of all the races of the United States, though, African- Americans have suffered the most from derogatory terms.
African-Americans have been called “coons,” “jigaboos,” “porch monkeys,” “tar babies” and other foul epithets, but the word that tops the list is “nigger.” Slave owners in America used “nigger” to dehumanize black people. “Nigga” is the derivation created by black people to be used with other black people.
Some people like to identify black culture with “nigger” in all the wrong ways. Beyond the word, Americans need to learn about the word’s connection to black culture. “Nigger” is a small portion of African-American culture. African-Americans are not defined by the word. When you confine and describe someone with a single word, you limit their potential.
“Nigga” has now become mainstream. In recent years it has been condoned through comedy and music. This word has caused trouble no matter who says it. No amount of rap songs saying “nigga” will ever make the word positive. Use of the word is an embarrassment to the black community.
People today that use this word in a song or casual conversation are likely too young to have ever been sent to the back of the bus or had fire hoses turned on them. Society has lost sensitivity to the painful reality of the word.
It is pointless to fight for the right to say the N word when there are much bigger issues facing the black community. With so many other injustices that need attention, a single word holds no importance.
It is time to retire the word. Too many people say the word every day because it is second nature for them. Bad habits die slowly. There needs to be more respect and love for one another. This starts by calling ourselves “brothers” and “sisters.”
Or, better still, our real names.