The “N” word – debating rules of etiquette:Post#8

Hot topic! First off I will say I have used  the “N” word among my close friends in describing another black person’s ignorant behavior. I have also have used it in joking manner or seeing humor in another black person. However, I’m not proud to have just admitted that. I have not and will not ever use it as a term of endearment towards any of my friends or family. The word was not ever used in my household. We as children were aware of it and knew it was used to hurt black people.

The “N” word will eventually disconnect the younger African American generation from their history in so far as the negative use of the “N” word. In addition, it will also disconnect other races from the offensive connotations that was put upon Black people. Dr. Cornel West stated that European countries “niggarized” other Europeans, Asians, Palestinians, etc,. However the “N” word was used in a way to terrorize them, which is different from how it was used and use towards black people. Black people were and are called the “N” word daily in 2013.

Those aforementioned Europeans, Asians, Palestinians were not, they just received the physical, emotional and mental terror, which is not a minor offense.  Panelist Akeba Solomon brought up an very good point when she responded to a twitter comment. Akeba stated, Individuals use the excuse for using it as a term of endearment on a very individualistic and personal level.

I agree with Tim Wise, another panelist who talked about reclaiming symbols of oppression when the symbols are still being used in the same fashion, by the same people who use the “N” word to hurt black people. He brought up the use of  the pink triangle used by Nazi Germany and the LGBT community reclaiming the symbol. The symbol no longer has the power it once had. However, I agree with Tim, the “N” word can not be reclaimed as long as it is still being used in the same fashion by the same people and sustaining the the same power.

Jay Z, bought up a great point about using the word not only with an “A” at the end of it, but he uses it in the context that he knows he is receiving love as a feedback among his audiences/fans. Jay Z said he is changing the attitude of the people or attempting to. I don’t agree with Dr. West when he said he gives a pass to certain white people who struggled with black people during the Jim Crow era, who died in the struggle and who shows love for black people. I totally disagree. He mentioned the rapper Eminem as one.

I don’t agree with anyone using the “N” word as a term of endearment who is not African American. I even cringe when I hear other African Americans using it as a term of endearment. I agree with panelist Mychal Smith when he said it is in the context and relationship of the use of the “N” word. I agree and disagree with panelist Raquel who is a Latina, when she said she uses the “N” word to bring about dialog when other Latinas and Latinos who she hears using it. However, I don’t agree with Raquel wanting to use it to make a connection. In my opinion there is no connection with the “N” word between black people and other people. The word is negative and the connection should be severed.

Dr. West brought up a good point about the “N” word being used in the USA and why it’s different in other parts of the world when they would like to bridge a gap and come to some sort of happy medium. He stated, black people were enslaved here, became citizens and then in a short 12 years have been enslaved again, have been lynched on a massive scale, had to fight and march to be seen as equal and not 1/5 of a man. There were no black power sources to prevent, fight against the lynching and other autrocities against black people, so using the word “N” in the USA should not be use to make a connection to African American people. Akeba brought up another good point and I agree, white people or other races who said they use the “N” word because they feel that rappers gave them permission when they use it in their songs as a term of endearment. That is a ridiculous reason for using it.  If that rapper said drink poison and write down the results in 72 hours,(of course you’d be dead) would they then follow through, would that be the permission they need?

Tim Wise brought up two excellent points, first he said white people can not use the “N” word for any reason, because the “N” word has never had a mixed meaning for whites as it does for blacks.Tim said, not only shouldn’t white people use the “N” word, but they should not even be in discussion in how the “N” word should be use to connect with African American people. The second excellent point that Tim made, was the use of the term “redneck” and it’s connection to the use of the “N” word among African Americans. Tim said when Jeff Foxworthy uses it, he gets a pass, because he is part of the family. (Tim is from the south). However, If Jerry Seinfeld uses it, he does not get a pass, he is not part of the family.

My thing is why would any one other than Black people want to use the “N” word when they know how offensive it is to black people? I also don’t consign with African Americans using it either. Like I stated in an early post, the use of the “N” had morphed into a whole other animal by the younger generation. 

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2 responses to “The “N” word – debating rules of etiquette:Post#8

  1. Excellent recap, Karl — very helpful. The question of reclaiming symbols of oppression and under what conditions it can be done successfully is intriguing. One successful example which has been studied a fair amount is how gay people reclaimed the term “queer,” transforming it from a term of derision to one of pride.

  2. I understand where you are coming from Karl when you say that the “N” word should never be used by not only people that aren’t African American but by Black people as well, but I have to disagree with you as I think it has a positive message, and those that use it amongst their friends shows the closeness they have for each other. Yes the “N” word was used as a derogatory word to refer to Black people but why should that stop them from taking that word and using it for a positive purpose. Nas came out with an album back in 2008 in which he wanted the name of it to be called the “N” word, however because of controversy it was later named “Untilted”. Their are two tracks on it that I recommend you listen to if you haven’t already, called “Y’all My Niggas” and “Project Roach”. Both which can give you a sense of why people shouldn’t stop using the word. Being Jewish, every year we have a Holocaust Memorial service so that not only can we remember those innocent people that were murdered but so we can remember the horrible, disgusting, dehumanizing treatment and actions that the Holocaust put our people through as well as others. With not forgetting what happened you don’t allow it to ever happen again. I think what Black people are doing with the word “Nigga” is very similar. When they hear that word, they remember that the horrible past of the slave times, the derogatory word being thrown around left and right, and they hear it and are reminded of those slavery times and the horrible, disgusting, dehumanizing treatment their people suffered at the hand of many Americans. To use it to remind them that nothing like that should ever happen again, and if it does they will be fully aware of it in our history and put a stop to it beforehand.

    I think Nas says this best in “Y’all My Niggas” when he says;

    “Tryin’ to erase me from y’all memory
    Too late, I’m engraved in history (I’m here my niggas!)
    Speak my name and breathe life in me
    Make sure y’all never forget me (‘Cause y’all give me life!)
    ‘Cause y’all use my name so reckless
    Whether to be accepted or disrespected (And I love it!)
    And I love it, especially when y’all do it in public
    And I’m the subject
    ‘Cause y’all my niggas”

    “Y’all My Niggas” by Nas

    “Project Roach” by Nas

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