Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Nigger Experience

"I rebuke you little nigga... the meek shall perish... I'll roof you little nigga... I'm a project terrorist... That's cute you little niggas... Think you in my class?... Substitue little niggas... Soon feel my wrath... I'll mute you little nigga... You a little nigga... I'll child abuse you little nigga... I'm a ill nigga..."

That's me this morning singing in unison with Jay-Z's "Trouble" as I was on the highway listening to Sirius Satellite Radio. Damn! This song got me pumped! I was ready for the day...

Then just as fast as this aggressive song got me amped, I was quickly deflated when the station played the newly leaked racist drunken rants of Paris Hilton at a private party singing "... I'm a nigger and I take it up the ass for coke... I'm a little black whore."



All of a sudden, all the energy and power that I got from Jay unapologetically spewing "THE N-WORD" was turned into disgust, anger and frustration... I wanted to hurt somebody. All of a sudden the world went from billions of people of different nationalities, cultures and races to "Us and Them." I imagined every White person in their cars as they zoomed by shouting "Nigger!!!" at me. I felt small. Vulnerable.

Three hours later I'm listening to a Lil' Wayne song with just as many references to "nigga" as Jay-Z's song. I was unaffected. It's worthy to note that had my mom, or many of those of her generation, heard the same lyrics they would have been a little disturbed, moreso because they are more sensitive to the fact that those lyrics reach more ears than our own. To them, the word is only to be used and heard amongst ourselves behind closed doors -- without exception. Generation X and Y, however, are slowly becoming more accepting of the word's universal appeal, at least as it relates to entertainment. It seems that the word is slowly losing its sting within, and outside of, our community with each passing generation with the caveat to outsiders that they can't use it in a disparaging manner.

What is it about this word that is so confusing? When used amongst ourselves it is an after-thought, but when it is used outside of our circle it is unabashedly polarizing and hurtful. The dichotomy of this word is amazing. It's easily the most derogatory word of any language, complete with the blood and struggle of our ancestors, yet our generation is numb to its original intent, so we use it...

"And the true point of divergence – the indefatigably repetitious and gratuitous use of the most unsavory epithet to the ears of the Civil Rights generation" – “NIGGER!”

Not “nigga.” No reinterpretation. No refinement. Just plain ol' “nigger,” that awful word, still carrying the venom and hatred it distilled when spoken in their time. Attempts to dialogue about the use of this contentious word in contemporary culture is pointless, as any defense of the word has no merit to living witnesses of the suffering and struggle to be treated as equals and not as “niggers” in a society that had for centuries been all to eager to debase and dehumanize their very existence.

The point is that these two “generations” hear something completely different when they hear different variations of the word and this is the real source of disconnection between our generation and the civil rights generation. Thus, its a point of contention left unresolved due to the inherently circular nature of debate. The word cannot be redefined for the elders, and even though it can be extremely hurtful to us, the next generation will never hear it in quite the same manner as we do, or as it was intended at its inception, in part due to its overuse in our daily lives and within a totally different context.

Even still, as much as we mangle the word to make it meaningless, it still stings. I was reminded of that this morning.

Ignorance: Fuck Paris Hilton and KKKramer... and Me!

7 comments:

A Beautiful Life said...

I think "nigger" and "nigga" are both disgusting words. They will never be a term of endearment to me. A black man was beaten and called a "nigga" by three white men in a white neighborhood in New York. The defense argued that it was not a hate crime because "Nigga" and "Nigger" are not bad words anymore. They argued that blacks call eachother these terms and played music to proove it. The defense won their case. This case was discussed on the TJMS last week. Desensitizing these words is hurting us in the courtroom.

Gene said...

1) Jay Z's use of nigga was also mean to be disrespectful.

2) Paris Hilton will probably take it up the a$$ whether you give her coke or not.

Brandon said...

I agree with you Life. We ARE becoming desensitized to it, and it's wrong, but the reality is that we definately make a distinction between when we use it verses when other races (especially white people) use it.

Does that make it right for us to still use it? Hell no! But we do and that's just reality.

It seems like that we knew that there was no way to stop other races from using it as a slur, so as a defense mechanism, we attempted to take the power away from their use of it by desensitizing ourselves to it *as cliche as that sounds*.

Unfortunately, it's not working too well. Now we're in a quagmire. We've convinced ourselves that one variation has nothing to do with the other and that the power lies within the intent behind it's use, somewhere between the "e" and the "r".

the chairman said...

Every one has made great points. People will treat you how you treat yourself. Nigger is not the only way we disrespect the race. The music and our movies do portray us in a bad light. We are all responsible for this considering we buy music and other forms of media that portray us in a bad light.

Onto the IGNORANCE... I like Jay Z's song trouble.

Satty said...

I too, battle with using the n word. It's like I know it's wrong, but at the same time it's almost second nature to use it in some instances. It's just something that I think we as a people will always battle with because unfortunately the word is not going anywhere anytime soon. We're definitely losing the battle of trying to turn a derogatory word into one of empowerment. When it comes down to it we are just disrespecting ourselves.

DGood said...

Yeah it's amazing how a word can have so much power or how this word can be viewed as a term of endearment if used by the "right" person but the minute the "wrong" person says it then there is a big controversy. I am guilty as well for using the word but like a few others have stated I am working on it because we as a people have used it so much that "they" feel they can use it as well.

kim said...

Well written! Good post.