Nigger


Controversial post title; check. Don’t write this post off just yet though, it might take an interesting turn. Nigger is a word often and most notably used as a derogatory term for black people. It has strong connotations and is a super important part of history; one we should never forget. But is it really all that bad? What really is the problem with the word nigger?

Now, before I continue, let me preface the rest of the post by saying, I do not condone racism. I do not condone using racist terminology against black people or any other kind of person for means of hate. If you’re looking to defend discrimination and hate towards people for their colour of their skin, this is not the blog post for you. I love people, and making people happy and enjoying their happiness with them is really how I get by in life. Heck, if I could just get paid for that, I think I’d be set forever.

Understandably, there’s a lot of power in words; they can make or break empires and even chip away at the hardiest of spirits. They inspire, they persuade, they seduce. Words are incredible and I can understand truly why people can get so excited about them. Take Channel 4’s favourite lexicographer, Susie Dent of Countdown. Who gets so excited when she gets to talk about words and word history; it’s hard not to break down into tears. She is truly adorable, and I really get her excitement.

video-undefined-25a07b8400000578-62_636x348

However with all of these amazing words and uses for them, there are also a lot of no no words. That we must never say; not unlike a certain evil wizard’s name. Though, just like that evil wizard’s name, the forbidden nature of these words makes them more powerful. In fact, its what gives them their power and helps them hold onto it. Just like how wizards far and wide joined the Death Eaters out of fear of Lord Voldemort, creating the huge power base for his army. So too, do we do this with words such as nigger. We’re afraid of them, what they mean, their history and their usage, so we forbid them from use. This only increases their power to effect people negatively.

Yet the real reason words like nigger are so forbidden, isn’t because they will deeply offend people. No, not at all. Black people have taken the word nigger back long ago, and it has since stopped being so offensive – though don’t test this by calling black people niggers, that’s not going to work out well for you. Obviously, in a racist context nigger can be super racist, and super offensive. Calling a black person a nigger for somehow wronging you isn’t going to win you any awards for non-racism. But that’s not all, even out of a racist context, dare you utter the word and not be black you are treated to shocked gasps. People don’t understand what to do or say to you, it’s like you’ve just used the ancient curse to summon Beezlebub or something.

Take the clip of Samuel L Jackson literally telling a man to say the word, and the man refusing. Why? Because the man knows he’ll be judged negatively for it, he knows he’ll probably lose his job for saying it. Not because Samuel L Jackson would have complained or asked for him to lose his job for saying a word he told him to say. No, not at all that.

tumblr_mfysrllrum1qioxaso2_250

The reason the man would have lost his job is more likely down to white people, and the growing attack on anything perceived to be racist. Many other white people who have said nigger on television or in the media have been condemned highly for it. Lost their jobs, ruined their family lives, and all for saying a word; and not even in any kind of racist context. See, white people have been making massive reparations for the way black people have been treated in the past and even to this very day. It really does suck that racism exists, absolutely, and we’re all too aware of the consequences of where that path will lead us. And although 90% of all people alive today never owned slaves, or have always been as non-racist as they possibly can be. We still allow ourselves to censor our language and judge anyone badly for using it.

I liken this to the whitewashing of history. Where we deliberately ignore or belittle black achievements and claim white people did it first, to further the myth of white superiority. Except we’re doing the same with the word nigger. We’re actively trying to hide it from history, pretend it doesn’t exist; and by extension, pretend people never used it in a really derogatory manner against other human beings. All of which in my opinion, is wrong. We should never allow ourselves to ignore, or bury the truth. Nigger was an awful word and it was used awfully; but to censor it, to make people lose jobs over its use, to wilfully ignore history… Well… that’s just not cricket.

Instead we should aim to take power away from it, to remember how it was used negatively and not allow ourselves to use it that way again. So if you’re a white girl and you hear “fuck the police” come on the radio, don’t be afraid to shout out how you’re a young nigger and got it bad cos you’re brown. That’s truly starting to respect history, the world, and the struggle of black people against racism and systems of oppression.

Only we have the power to change the world for the better, and censorship and guilty white people feeling bad about what they did to black people isn’t helping anything. Afterall… actions speak far louder than words.

Advertisements

One thought on “Nigger

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s