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NIGGA

NIGGA

The time has come. The time has come and I must address something that I honestly do not feel an overwhelming “want” to discuss on my blog, but a “need”. The word “nigga”—let’s talk about that. Now I say I don’t want to talk about it because it’s such a divided topic. Hell, us as Black folk ain’t even come to a final agreement about whether or not it’s okay to say.

This weekend, I was at a bar where they offered karaoke as a form of embarrassment. This bar was majority White with a splash of Black once or twice. Needless to say, there was a bunch of alternative music, pop, and of course White folk’s favorite, old ass rap songs. Of course, I stood there as they sang the words to “Going Back to Cali” and rapped along. When the word “nigga” came up, I was shocked that the person actually said it… every single time! This was the start of the “nigga” conversation.

I turned to my partner person and I noticed that his face was all twisted up. Knowing exactly what he was thinking, I said “yea, I guess it’s cool to say that word here.” He then went on to ask, “Well, can we really get mad? It’s a part of the song.” From there, I went on this little rant. My rant went something like this.

I’m really tired of Black folk censoring themselves and feeling a need to justify bullshit by folk that don’t look like them. We excuse bad behavior or we attempt to hide our culture as a means of making someone else comfortable. Whether you want to admit it or not, “nigga” is a part of Black culture. And because rap is also a strong element of Black culture, it is not a surprise that the word is used often in rap music. Kaye and Jay-Z made a song with the title “Niggas in Paris”, if that doesn’t mean anything, I don’t know what should. With that being said, it should not be a surprise to anyone that the word is included in the music. This is because the artist are often making music to speak to the souls of niggas. I’m not convinced that when Jay-Z made Reasonable Doubt, he stopped and said, “I hope White people like these songs.” He didn’t because his music wasn’t geared for White people. Future even noted that he likes to make music for the ratchets and the strippers. He ain’t thinking about what Billy thinks and he shouldn’t have to.

Mick Jenkins once said that he doesn’t like when White people use the word, but in some ways he can’t get too upset because he includes the word in his songs. To that, I present the previous paragraph. The music isn’t catered to them. If they happen to like the content and want to purchase a ticket to a concert in a town near them, great! However, they should not be placing Black rappers who make music that is primarily geared to Black people in situations where they feel the need to change their music. White people didn’t create the art form of hip-hop. At one point, they didn’t even consider hip-hop a form of real music and didn’t include it as a genre at the Grammy’s. We made that shit for US. Lord Jamar likes to think of rap as a house owned by Black people and White people are just visiting. Just like your mom used to tell you “This my damn house! I just let you sleep here!” That’s how we should think of rap. White people can like the music, they can even love the music, however, they can’t determine what goes on and tell rappers what can and cannot be said within the art form. The only thing they can do is press skip or not buy the album.

I know the next argument will be “well they’re the people that actually buy the music and support concerts.” To this, I can agree. I’ve gone to a few rap concerts and it seems that there are always more White guys in the audience than Black folk—that’s a completely different topic and I don’t have time to speak on it right now. However, I like to think of it in the ways that we cook. Often, people cook food that they and their families like to eat. If there is a guest invited over for dinner, one might place the salt and pepper shaker on the table so that the guest can adjust the seasoning. However, the meal is the meal. Even if the family of the cook doesn’t eat the meal, the meal was originally prepared and inspired by the fact that the baby in the family doesn’t like onions. Same with rap. The artist make the music for the consumption of Blacks. Apple, Google Play, and Spotify offer ways to adjust the content minimally with the option of censored music. But at the heart of the issue, the music is still made with us in mind… even if we don’t consume. Hell, I make this blog for women, Blacks, and specifically, Black women, but I can’t help or stop a White male from reading. I would love to have more White male subscribers, I want to reach everyone that I can. However, he must know that he is simply a guest in my space and that is the reason why he, as the consumer, doesn’t have the power to edit post. The most that he can do is leave a comment and hope that I respond.  

Speaking in a more general sense. White folk still can’t use the word. I’ll be the first to tell a person that I use the word and I will get mad if I White person uses the word. As I’ve stated before, we as Blacks tend to censor ourselves more than any other race or community of people. While I understand that the word has horrible historic content attached to it and still can be used negatively, so do other words that many communities use a form of endearment or as a means of describing people. We’ve all seen or at least heard of “Jersey Shore”—that show was pure trash. The characters on the show used terms of endearment that would be unacceptable if those outside of their community were to say. In the same way that there was a feminist movements to take back the word “bitch”. It is understood that I can approach my best friend and say “biitttcchh, lemme tell you what happened!” However, if a man calls me a Black bitch, I have every right to be upset. This is because the word is being claimed and owned by women as a means of staying within the community of women. However, because some White lady stood at a podium and said that it’s no longer politically correct or acceptable for men to call women bitches, they listen. Only with Black folk do we have to shuck and jive and attempt to explain why we use the word and why we want to claim it for ourselves. And one might argue that those words used by other communities are debated as far as usage too. This is true, but the debate doesn’t frequent CNN nearly as much.

The White person who feels an overwhelming sense of entitlement will take advantage and damn near refer to you as “my nigga” if you let them. We’ve talked about White privilege here a few times before and the topic of White privilege and entitlement go hand in hand with this. Because there is this undue sense of ownership over all things, White people think that they have the deed to the word nigga. When you tell them that they can’t use the word, they feel as if they’ve been robbed of some sort of privilege. Moreover, because they can’t use the word, they feel that no one else should be able to use it. From that point, they want to act as “nigga” patrol and attempt to stop Blacks from saying such an “ugly” word.

It is at this point that he stopped and looked at the wall of bourbon. I knew that he was searching for a counter argument because he loves playing devil’s advocate. He then said “well, what about the older Blacks who say that there is too much pain associated with the word and no one should say it?” To that, I say…

The pain that is attached to the word “nigga” is no different from the pain that is attached to the “chitlins” that their Black asses eat on Thanksgiving. We can take it further-- I’m about to piss somebody off and lose a subscriber-- the Christian religion (specifically White Jesus) is also attached to a horrible past. Fuck it, these “slave” names that we proudly tote are attached to a horrible past. All of these are things and ideas that were not attached to us as West Africans-- Speaking directly to my African American folk right here-- but it was forced on us through methods of torture and pain by the White man. African-American history is full of painful shit. It’s just that people like to pick and choose.

So, to wrap this the hell up… White folk cain’t say nigga, White folk cain’t rap/sing nigga, and Black folk need to stop apologizing and explaining why we can say/rap/sing the word nigga. Well, I shouldn’t say they can't say the word, but do what you want, just been prepared for the repercussions of your actions or in this case, words.

 

This is not proven in some book. Just my opinion. Don’t like it? Betchu’ ain’t finna swing.

 

Be great,
Afros and Ovaries
chillin’ with my niggas

 

BONUS:
I felt like writing a lil mo’ so I will. My partner person and I discussed the Black people that can say the word. If you don’t understand the difference between race, ethnicity, and nationality, please add another tab to your chrome browser and research those terms before continuing.

There are some “Black Hispanics” that like to use the word willy nillie and say “I’m Black like you…” Until you drink his last sip of Henny and apple juice. At that point, he turns on you and calls you a “fucking niggER”. Or my personal favorite is when “Black Hispanics” and our original cousins (Africans) want to identify with all things Black and indulge in Black culture through the music, dress, and even by using “nigga”, but make it plain and clear that they are not black when a negative stereotype is attached to blackness. I’ve heard numerous people point out that they are not “Black”, but Nigerian/Dominican/Haitian/etc. Goes back to what my uncle Paul Mooney said about everybody wanting to be a nigga until it’s time to be a nigga.

So my answer is, if you are BLACK and you identify with being a nigga through the good and the bad… gon’ head and indulge.

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