Jesus, begbert! This isn’t the Pit, you know…
I thought this was a whoosh, but indeed it appears there is a fellow named Larry Meeks with a column who, if I am correct in my assumption, gives advice on how to interact and talk with people in our increasingly diverse world.
I think the use of the phrase “the n-word” is patently ridiculous. It’s a word. Use it. if you don’t want to use it, why not say “a racial slur?” Someone can quote a word and not actually use it. When I transcribe interviews from my research, people occasionally curse. I leave their words as they are. I couldn’t imagine changing it to “He said the f-word.”
I’m not bothered if someone says, “That guy said ‘nigger.’” But that’s me, and Larry Meeks is correct in pointing out that it’s only a matter of time until this fool says ‘nigger/a’ in front of the wrong people, Black or otherwise, and then he’ll have a problem on his hands.
Anyone else having a hard time imagining this being a problem for most karaoke singers? My experience has been that most karaoke rap songs are the radio versions or novelty songs (“Bust A Move” and its ilk). Are there NWA songs on karaoke? Does the little lyric box actually say during “Golddigger” “BUT SHE AIN’T MESSING WITH NO BROKE NIGGERS?” (or “NIGGAS,” of course.)
Living here, I rarely hear either of the terms, but for news reports, I think that using “the n-word” is preferable to the alternative.
Other than one niggling complaint about this post, I thought it was great.
I think a lot of people outside of black American culture are confused about what the word ‘nigga’ and ‘nigger’ means to us.
We don’t like it when a white person hurles it at us. But it does not crush us, either. I think that is because we don’t associate the word with a whip to the back, or a water hose blast as much as previous generations do. We have truly reclaimed the word, (re-born as ‘nigga’) and we really have sapped much of its power.
When I try to explain this to white people who hate the word, and think that blacks shouldn’t use it in any context, and criticize Eddie Griffin for using it, etc…I start to wonder, do you regret that there is not a word that can break our hearts and devastate us anymore?
The King of Soup, I think it is a tad strange to accept Lenny Bruce’s use of the word, but not Eddie’s. He used it to exploit it to shock and exploit? I dare say he is born of the culture and generation that has de-powered the word. If Lenny Bruce can use it, so can he.
As for “the N word”, I think I understand what they are trying to accomplish. It looks as if they are counting this word as obscene and profane…like the word “fuck” and “shit”. They don’t use those words on the evening news either.
I’d agree mostly with Sampiro, but I could never illustrate it as well myself. I grew up with close friends and twins/neighbours who were of African descent and my best friend (in primary school) was south African, by birth. This was 25+ years ago. In high school I had a close circle of friends, one from Burma (who’s doing rather well in banking in HK now), one from China, one who’s father was Jamaican, several from the UK and another (although not in the ‘circle’) from Thailand. There were others in my school who were 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants who ‘got on well’ with everybody else (as well as my gf at the time who was from Poland, 2nd gen).
There was an Iranian kid who I sat opposite in art classes, who used to talk about “Jihad” which I didn’t understand, until many years later.
Most of these guys have made good,
The only time the “N-word” is used is when a person is referring to “that word” but does not, and will not, use the actual word. It’s not offensive because the person is making a conscious effort to simply never use the word.
What if you’re reading out loud classic American literature? Or quoting said literature? I don’t say the word in conversation because it makes me uncomfortable, just like refering to a woman as a ‘cunt’ makes me uncomfortable, but this social rule is defintely grey…and there is not doubt in my mind anyone saying it slows social progress.
If MLK was alive today he’d march on Selma to stop Timbaland and P Diddy.
If you’re reading “Huckleberry Finn” out loud, when you read “Nigger Jim” you say “Nigger Jim”. If you’re so afraid of offending people that you wonder if you should say “Nigger Jim” out loud, you shouldn’t be reading “Huckleberry Finn” out loud. What, we should change his name to “Disco Jim”, or some such?
And honestly, who’s gonna be offended? I mean, in a real situation where you’re really reading “Huckleberry Finn” out loud for real? I mean, if you go down to Harlem and start reading “Huckleberry Finn” out loud on the street corner, you might find yourself getting your ass kicked. But not at your book group that meets the third Thursday of every month. And if the other white people in your book group get offended on behalf of black people, feel free to roll your eyes at them.
Well, he will always be “Disco Jim” to me. From here on out.
We all know what the N word is. We all know what the F word is. But that doesn’t make using them acceptable. If we say so and so used the N word, it means we disapprove of its use or else we would use it ourselves instead of the oblique reference.
Or banging on the inside of his tomb and yelling “GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE!”
One of my all time favorite movie quotes: *I met Dr. Martin Luther King in 1962 in Memphis, Tennessee. I’m walkin’ down the street, mindin’ my own business, just walkin’ along, feelin’ good. I walk around a corner. A man walk up, hit me in my chest, right? I fall on the ground, right? And I look up, and it’s Dr. Martin Luther King! I said, ‘Dr. King!’ He said, ‘Oops, I thought you was somebody else.’ *
How would you rename The Nigger of the Narcissus?
To me, almost any time currently widespread reference is made to the euphemistic “the N-word,” people are taking shaky baby steps to attempt to discuss, hash out and work through something in regards to race – identity, culture and politics.
Like many in this thread have said, “the N-word” is not being used at times when the actual word would be spat straight out for it’s hateful, oppressive intent. In the wobbly attempts at hashing this out, through discussion, and using that phrase to facilitate that discussion, we are very much stumbling over and testing the limits of the current power and viability of the word. In subtext, we are hashing out and exploring where we, as a society, culture and country, want to go from here, in that regard.
In the hashing out that’s occurring, we are very much in our infancy, in terms of moving on from such hateful sentiments and as such, just like a two-year-old who’s added a new word to its [out]spoken vocabulary, especially one with the salaciousness of “nigger,” we are repeating it ad naseaum and testing our free (and guarded) use of it and other’s reactions to our (blacks and whites) use of it.
Like any two-year old, we’ll eventually grow out of, work through and move beyond all of this. SSG Schwartz, be patient – it’s just an indication we’re moving beyond our terrible twos. Just remember in that phrase is the word “growing.”
Actually, I think that last bit goes “And I look up, and it’s Dr. Martin Luther the King!” That’s what makes it extra funny.
“You lyin’. You ain’t never met no Martin Luther dah King.”
The word nigger is just another word. Bigot is a word too. Calling someone who is black a nigger is bigotry. It’s bigotry even if you yourself are black, and it is bigotry even if you are a black artist of high standing, beloved by those who have been called niggers throughout the world. Being black does not prevent bigotry. Calling someone who is not black a nigger is bigotry, even if there are no black people around.
It’s what you mean by what you say that is bigotry, not what word you use. If you cannot write your song without using nigger in it, perhaps it is an important commentary on social attitudes. If you put out an album that has three songs in it with the word nigger, perhaps you are a bigot. Or, perhaps you just need to work on your vocabulary. You certainly need to work on the range of your artistic subject matter.
If you cannot consider a message using the word nigger without assuming bigotry on the part of the speaker, you need to consider if perhaps your attitudes are getting in your own way. If it matters to you what race the person using the term nigger is you are being bigoted, no matter what race you are. Being white does not cause bigotry.
Language is a swamp of implications, inferences, multiple levels of meaning, and unintentionally communicated information. You can tell me you are a bigot without using any of the “offensive” words that generally produce outrage, and in fact, if you keep talking, eventually you will. It is inevitable, because bigotry is an opinion about a class of individuals, and if you talk about them, your opinions will become obvious. Especially if you lie about how you feel. In fact, the only way that it can continue to remain “unknown” between us is if we share the same prejudice. Eventually we will communicate that agreement without even needing to use epithets. That doesn’t mean we might not use them, but it won’t be necessary. And it might not be negro racial characteristics that we despise.
I think hypersensitivity to a word is a very good indicator of unresolved emotional involvement in some aspect of the word’s use in the culture of the person reacting, much more than the person using the word. (Not every time, of course, but as often as not.) Why is it such a trigger? Knowing that is a big part of knowing someone else better. I almost never use the word nigger in conversation, except perhaps ironically, and I tend to be fairly selective about who I am speaking to, and in front of. But, sometimes I use it to refer to the word itself. When a black woman I know made some offhand comment about “fags” in reference to homosexual men, I immediately asked her, “How is that different from me calling you a nigger?” Her response was nearly violent. She reported me to our boss for saying it. She never understood why nothing was done by management to punish me, and was absolutely outraged when she was told that it was her use of fag that was inappropriate.
It’s the attitude that matters, not the language.
Frankly, I find the pussified, politically correct term of “N-word” to be far more offensive than using the word “nigger”.