Sorry white person but I can longer keep explaining why you should never use the “N-Word.” Yes, I get you may live in a world where your favorite Hip Hop song says “Nigga” every other line like a religious chant. I get that in all the glory of white dominance it can be a challenge to comprehend this one “No” when life has always seem to have given you unlimited access based on privilege. I get that sometimes in life one can genuinely need a bit of clarification. If I were always used to using my American Express white card with limitless credit, I too would raise an eyebrow if ever it were denied. Maybe your one black friend didn’t mind or, even deeper-than-rap maybe, your 2,3,4,5 or more black friends didn’t mind. However, I, for one, could give less than a Biggie Smalls fuck about giving you a lesson in NIGGA etiquette.
I am so tired of having to explain to an imperial society that has kept us oppressed whether through slave chains , Jim Crow laws, or various forms of systemic racism the imperfections of my blackness. No, I am not that profound dignified intellectual brother you see on CNN every February that uses 11 syllable words and who breaks down to your white liberal mind the history of the “N-word” and why “We as black should not be using the word also, blah blah blah…because of its ugly history blah blah…” I am too busy getting hype doing a 30min gym workout listening to Jeezy in my Beats-By-Dre headphones. I won’t try to justify or excuse my use of the word by stating the old “When we say it, we’re taking back the N-word’s power, making a negative into a positive blah blah..”. Or the college Black history/5 Percenter educated argument that early European slave owners were purposely mocking and mispronouncing the original term “Negus” that meant “Monarch” or “King.” Nope, you will no longer hear loaded deck urban reasoning because a nigga like myself is too busy trying figure out how to make my next Sallie Mae payment.
A few years ago I was working as an On-air radio personality in Indiana where I was the only black employee on a Hip Hop station. (Yea, a story for another day). A fellow white blue eyed blond female co-worker and I had become super cool when we first met because we shared the same home state, I, being from Detroit and her from a suburb outside the city. One day together we both were doing a contest promotion where we had to show up at the winner’s house, but unfortunately driving through unfamiliar cornfields of Indy we got lost. My co-worker called the intern back at the station to double check the address. I was too busy making sure nothing was going to creep out those dry cornfields to follow their conversation until I heard her referencing the intern (who was a young white male) by saying “This nigga is an idiot!” At first I thought that I was tripping. Like, maybe because I heard “Nigga” so much around my way coming up or maybe my mind was having a psychotic breakdown from not saying the word for a while because I was the only black person who worked in the building? However; before I was able to come up with another “maybe possibility” in my head she turned to face me and said, “This dumb ass NIGGA gave us the wrong address!!!!” I instantly restrained my instinctive ready to go Sam Jackson response and decided to “try” to make this a teachable moment. When she git off the phone, I turned to her and politely said with a slight grind in my teeth:
“Hey, do me a favor and please don’t say “nigga” around me again.”
Her: Oh, Ohhh, ok, I’m sorry, I apologize
Her: it’s just that I thought it was cool if I say the word “Nig-GUH” instead of “Nig-GER?”
Me: Naw, Both.
Her: But, It’s just, I’m not a racist
Me: Right…No one said that.
Her: I have nieces and nephews who have ”BLACK” in them, and both my sister’s baby daddy’s are black, and….etc , etc,
I was thinking “Did she just try to school me on all things NIGGA alike? Did she hit her blond white head on a black brick that same morning? Did she attend a Black conference that I wasn’t invited to? Like, please enlighten me on these nigga facts?”
What the hell does having a black “baby daddy” with beige or brown skin kids have to do with anything? I couldn’t dignify that ignorant backwoods mentality with a response then and nor can I now
Another time in Indy, I met up at a bar to meet a new friend named “JJ” who was a dark-skinned brother was about a good 6’8 in height and weighed about 280lbs. We were at a Happy Hour where I was enjoying some buffalo wings and JJ was on his third Hennessey shot. A skinny white guy who was no more than 130lbs and a short 5’4 entered and started walking toward our way. JJ stood up and greeted the white guy and said, “Yo, it took yo slow ass long enough!!!” The white guy dapped JJ up and said “Well damn nigga, I was caught in traffic so calm yo black ass down!!!” My slanted eyes were now bugged wide open like a caught runaway slave as I choked on the buffalo sauce from the wings. JJ saw me coughing and was said, “Yo, you alright? This is my friend Zach.” As Zach approached he attempted to “give me a pound” greeting and could see that I was already shaking my head while wiping my mouth and drinking water to clear my throat. “Yo, did you just call him NIGGA?” annnnnnd black ass?” I said. Zach looked stunned at my question but before he could respond, JJ stepped in and said:
“Yo this been my man since the second grade, he’s good.”
Me: (still slightly coughing) Hell naw he ain’t good, not around me saying that!!!
Zach who was still standing behind JJ said “Ah bro, it ain’t like that, me and JJ have been best buds for years. When I say nigga, it’s Kool, I’m saying he’s my friend you know? No disrespect. I mean it’s in all the rap songs, so fuck it Bro, you know?” With my nostrils flaring because of anger and hot sauce I said, “No, no, I do NOT know.” JJ was now looking embarrassed and in a defensive tone said, “See, you one of those type of black people who sees racism in everything!!!” I lost my desire to finish my $20 wings so I purposely left only $10 on the bar counter and said “Riiiight,” as I walked toward the nearest exit.
Fast forward to present day and comedian Bill Maher on his show “Real Time…” said, “I’m a house nigga…” as a joke reference. Now since my college days, I have been a fan of Maher’s show and I always taken his politically incorrect platform for what it is and over the years watched the show more for the diverse group of guest that have included rappers, politicians, actors, etc more so than for him. It is because of my history with the show and viewing the joke within its entire context that initially I had little to no response but yet I knew shit was about to get real. I personally thought the joke was just not funny and delivered in poor, unnecessary taste but I could not ignore how comfortable Bill Maher was with the word “Nigga,” itself. The word “Nigga” rolled off his tongue more casual than an old school Snoop Dogg album. Bill Maher was casual as if he was sitting at home smoking a blunt surrounded by 3 black girl strippers twerking in his face while a Migos record plays in the background. A classic case of “Whats done in the dark will come to light” moment because there is no way Bill Maher can claim that was his “first time” dropping that “Nigga bomb” like that which is the real problem.
Whenever I find myself being the one outsider of a group that is the same race, gender or homosexual, I never join in a conversation whenever there’s an exchange of insensitive terms or words are being used among them. If a few of my gay friends are calling each other homophobic slurs like the “F-word,” I instantly start randomly googling things like “Why is water wet?” and “Where did Grits come from? I don’t participle, acknowledge, and damn sure will not laugh because I recognize that I am not apart of their culture to do so. And I most definitely do not propose that I have a right to say it because they say it argument. I shut the hell up and take pride that I now have random knowledge like “grits and rice are required to be a meal enriched as a state law in South Carolina.”
Understand my dear white person that I totally get that the N-word is controversial. The word is such a disdain among many that I’m sure there is a black person who is next to you at this very moment who will argue against everything that I just said. This black person will probably call out my use of the word by using the age-old argument of “How can we expect for white folks to respect our feelings about them using it when we say it to each other?” Yea right, like police officers that kill unarmed black people are thinking “You know only if they respect themselves we wouldn’t have to load them with bullets for being black?” As if whenever a lynching or hanging took place a racist bigot said out loud, “We would never hang them, if they would only stop using that disgusting N-word that we love to call them by!!!” Yea to you and that black person who gave you that validation card I say kick rocks.
Trust when I tell you I recognize that my own stance on the word is far from perfect. I try to limit my use of the word in everyday conversation and it is completely off limits whenever I am in a professional setting. (Unless I’m in the break room with the only other black person at the office). Yes, us black people ourselves are at odds with the word which creates a messy house. However, just because my house is dirty it doesn’t mean that you as an outsider have a right to come shit in my living room
Life is far too short to always have to explain to full-grown adults the do’s and do not’s of society. Once you reach adulthood, it is no longer my job to hold your hand to explain every single grey area especially if you decide to argue your right to say it. You will have to deal with whatever consequences come your way. Like seriously go somewhere with that off the wall brand of entitlement because I will not entertain it. Humans are imperfect beings striving to be perfect or striving to get the perfect summer body. Some rules are just unofficial as well as official, and take it from a black person that has had to deal with limitations based on my skin color my entire life, White Person; you will be ok. Your kid’s kids will be ok. Your jobs will still be intact. You will continue to rule the world as you do in whiteness and glory. And if that doesn’t satisfy you then I’ll trade you, my “lifetime NIGGA card” for your “lifetime of WHITE privilege,” and maybe then we can be even…
Then again, fuck that!!!