Monday, February 11, 2008


What am I burning to tell the world, a myriad of things. I hate people who type “this” like “dis”, it’s not cute. Dane Cook is the least funny person I have ever had the displeasure of hearing. Punxsutawney cafeteria food is awful. However, for the sake of your eyes, length of this paper, and not having something to complain about later, I’ll stick to a more serious subject. I don’t care if you’re white, black or anything in between, STOP saying nigger.

To understand why this makes me so irate, I will provide you with a brief exposition of the word nigger. During the times when the slave trade was in effect, nigger was used as a derogatory term for the slaves of the dark skinned variety. Let’s move forward through time now. Abraham Lincoln frees the slaves, African Americans gain the right to vote, Civil Rights Movement etc. Now, in the year 2008, we black people have come a long way right? Unfortunately, some could argue, that it was a long way down as opposed to a long way up. I turn on the television or radio, and nigger( or nigga, which I will address soon), is being used profusely in every song an music video. In social settings, most of my black friends, who mean no disrespect, greet me with, “sup nigga”. All through the day I hear black people calling other black people this word, yet some of these people are the same ones who get angry when someone who isn’t black uses the word. I’m not trying to justify other people’s use of the word, nor am I claiming that blacks should be responsible for other people’s use of the word, but if we don’t want other people to say it, we should lead by example.

Arguments have been made that blacks can use the word and no one else because it was a tool of our oppression. I don’t buy that. If someone calls me an asshole, as an insult, why would I want to address my friends and family like that? Others say that it’s because the form of the word now is “nigga”. This change supposedly removes the hate that its predecessor carried. Even if I did believe that you’re telling me that out of all the words in the English language, we have to use this one to call one another? Dude, pal, buddy, buster are all names that can be used instead. There are so many words in the English language that weren’t created by racists as a form of disrespect that could be used.
I wouldn’t feel so strongly about had I not had my own personal experiences with the word. Quite recently, I was at a party in this area. It was a friend’s from school but a local who I will now refer to as Jack showed up as well. I was immediately apprehensive because I had heard about the low racial tolerance in the area, but I didn’t want to stereotype so I didn’t leave. As the party continued Jack put on some of his music, a band called Drop Kick Murpheys. I wouldn’t have mentioned the band, but as I’m going to use a direct quote that mentions them, and I don’t want to confuse. The host of the party switched the music after a while for rap. This pissed Jack off apparently. “Unbelievable”, he said. “You turned off the Murpheys for nigger music?” Awkward silence followed, though Jack seemed completely unaware. Offended, I asked him to elaborate about what he meant by nigger music. The story ends there because talking ended up not working.
Another story that shaped my opinion toward this word happened when I was very young. At this point, I believe another exposition is necessary. I was in foster care before I was even born. I never met my real parents, but the first parents I ever called mom and dad were white. I was in a foster home in Kittanning, a predominately white city. Knowing this, until I was around 5 I never really saw many black people besides myself, and didn’t notice I looked differently until it was very blatantly pointed out to me by a 4 year old girl. My parents (who are my godparents now) were shopping at Wal-Mart. As we passed another family, I heard the little girl say, “Look mommy, there’s a nigger!” I had no idea what that even meant, but my godparents did. They thought I didn’t hear it, so they didn’t say anything; but when I looked at their faces I could tell they were hurt, even though I wasn’t hurt myself. Not surprisingly, when they went to adopt me, they were told it wasn’t a good idea based on how extremely racist their area was. Up until I was 7 I completely forgot the incident until I heard the word again on the radio and asked my parents (who are my parents now, and also black) what it meant.

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