Entertainment Magazine

More Shades of (Black, White, And) Grey

Posted on the 19 February 2013 by Candornews @CandorNews

Image from www.bet.com

Image from http://www.bet.com

Quick, everyone – if someone asked you what the most offensive word in the English language was, what word would you guess? I would venture to guess that it wouldn’t necessarily be the same word for everyone, but I would bet that most of us agree that there’s one word that it’s safer to never say. Yeah, we’re talking about THAT word; a word that some of my white friends could never dream of saying.

I’m a young African-American male that grew up in a predominantly low-income African-American community. I’ve never tried to hide or run from that, but I have also been blessed to have grown up going to private schools and college in predominantly-Caucasian communities. I don’t hide from that either.

Often, as a young black male, I’ve often found myself right at the intersection of these dissimilar environments. Young black kids often crack me up when they give me grief for being “so white” because I don’t always dress like them or I try to speak in a more articulate manner. On the other hand, there have been plenty of times throughout high school and college where it has delighted some of my white friends to have me around as the self-appointed token black kid. A little dancing here, a few slang words there, and everything’s light and breezy. Clearly, I have no problem mixing racial relations; it’s all in good fun for me (To wit, for a long time, I jokingly carried an index card with “RACE” written on it as a physical manifestation of something that I, ironically, hate to ever play in an actual discussion).

Here’s the point though: even I find myself offended at the frivolity with which the word “nigger” is used nowadays. On TV, in music, or in everyday conversation, it’s everywhere. It’s a word that we should ALL work to expunge from our vocabulary, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that it’s obviously more bothersome to me, an African-American male, when a Caucasian person uses it like so

Image from twitter.com

Image from twitter.com

Surprisingly, it’s the flippant, non-accusatory usage of it that seems to bother me the most. Most of the white people with whom I’ve come in contact have the good taste to not use it around me so I don’t have a wealth of experience in this area, but I’d honestly probably feel less offended if someone were to just shout it at me. The reasoning behind this is inexplicably simple to me – it almost feels like mockery to hear a Caucasian person take a word that has been flipped by black people from an awful thing to something of a term of endearment and then try to use jokingly for themselves. IN NO WAY is it fair for me to tell someone what they can or can not say, but I think it’s fair that it bothers me as an African-American male to hear that word used by someone who isn’t African-American. It’s as if some people feel that there’s a certain quota, be it black friends or time spent around black people that grants them a “hood pass,” as it were, which can be used to speak/act/dress the way that the stereotypical black person would. Or maybe they do it because they just don’t care. But either way, it’s a shameful practice. I’m a proud black man, but I’m even prouder to say that I AM NOT the caricature of a black man that is often depicted on TV or in the minds of close-minded people.

As I had it explained to me at a young age, that word basically means “a black person that causes trouble.” Obviously when a word is used to disparage an entire race for a long time, the connotations of said word can be much worse, but either way, it is not a term with which I’d like to identify in any way. That being said, black people can not be faulted for trying to reclaim something that was (and can still be) so hurtful and demeaning in an effort to draw closer to one another. Of course, every time that word is used isn’t always in a positive way, but ultimately, it makes sense why it has become such a ubiquitous term in the African-American community. And to be fair, this phenomenon also applies to other minorities and women, especially. It is certainly valid to argue that terms like “slut” and “bitch” do the same thing to women that “nigger” does to African-Americans. Those are fair points.

The fact of the matter is that while all African-Americans can not speak to a personal feeling of what slavery was like, most of us can speak to a tangible feeling of discrimination in one way or another. For some of us, it’s an unspoken evil with which we’ve learned to live and get around, while some are a little more vocal about it. But whatever the case, it’s a cross that we (or any minority, really) have to bear everyday. At the end of the day, the word “nigger” can still feasibly be used to subjugate black people; THAT’s what I believe drives our desire to reclaim and repurpose that word. Make no mistake about it – regardless of who uses it, the word in and of itself is ugly; a tasteless and insensitive throwback to a far more sensitive time, one that we all should work to get past but not disregard. However, for this particular word, only one race was (read: is) subjected to its power as a pejorative meant to belittle and enslave. To use it at all is lazy and unoriginal. To not be apart of the race but use it casually is, at best, reckless, and at worst, insensitive and hateful.


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Father James Martin's Bridge-Building Metaphor and Call to Mutual Respect Betwee...

    Father James Martin's Bridge-Building Metaphor Call Mutual Respect Between Catholic Leaders LGBTQ Community: Critical Commentary

    I have not read Father James Martin's new book Building a Bridge, which calls on the pastoral leaders of the Catholic church to collaborate with the LGBTQ... Read more

    The 22 June 2017 by   William Lindsey
    LGBTQ, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Caution: This Can Cause Addiction

    Caution: This Cause Addiction

    I opened my low-carb/keto clinic with Nurse Sylvie in February 2017, inside the medical clinic where I do my regular general practice. To get people to enroll,... Read more

    The 22 June 2017 by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE
  • Review - Vichy Mineral 89 Skin Fortifying Daily Booster

    I'm always battling with dry and dehydrated skin.. even when I do nothing different, my skin will... Click for Read more

    The 22 June 2017 by   Chantana
    HAIR & BEAUTY, LIFESTYLE
  • Talk Show Host: Not Here to Make Friends

    Talk Show Host: Here Make Friends

    photo: Harley Haskett Toronto based Talk Show Host are quick to release a new EP. Not Here to Make Friends sounds cheerful and angry at the same time,... Read more

    The 22 June 2017 by   Hctf
    ENTERTAINMENT, MUSIC
  • The Human Design... Not All Bad!

    Human Design... Bad!

    Whatever or whoever it was that designed the human, had to have been at the least, a sadist. Now the design isn’t all that bad, it’s just that there were a few... Read more

    The 22 June 2017 by   Skip1957
    DIARIES, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Citrus Marshmallow Sundaes

    Citrus Marshmallow Sundaes

    We all know what a Sundae is, and I am sure we have all secretly had one at some stage in our lives even those of us who are now on the healthy no sugar […] Read more

    The 22 June 2017 by   Shadesofcinnamon
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • Konkani Style, Hog Plum Pickle…

    Konkani Style, Plum Pickle…

    Summer is full of Sun, fun, travel yumminess.. For those who love Mangoes its the season.. The kids have vacations... The markets are filled with an amazing... Read more

    The 22 June 2017 by   Anithanayak
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES