Now wait a minute black people. Before you go ham on me, let me explain myself. Since I was a little girl growing up in an all-black working class community in Los Angeles California, I have seen this story play out over and over. A white person uses the word nigger and automatically that makes him or her a racist. Or does it?
Yes it does. I am sure that was true in the 1960s and the 1970s when 99% of blacks and whites didn’t really live in the same neighborhoods, didn’t go to the same the schools, and didn’t shop at the same stores. Yes back in those days if a white person said the word nigger, they were prejudice.
You see I grew up right out of the civil rights movement. Here in Los Angeles, black people lived in the inner city, and for the most part whites lived in the suburbs. I remember instances of cross burnings in cities only a few miles outside of Los Angeles. Cities like Westchester and Northridge. White men posted large wooden crosses on the lawns of black people who were trying to integrate into their neighborhoods.
In those days, most cities outside of inner city Los Angeles were still segregated. No, not by law. And not because there were no black people that could afford to purchase houses in those communities, because there were. But because many escrow companies and banks made it difficult for blacks to purchase homes in all white areas. Orange County California, forget about living there if you were black. If a black family somehow managed to get funding and close escrow in any of those areas, their lives were often times made pretty difficult.
I remember vividly walking down a street in Torrance, California a few miles south of Los Angeles in 1980. I was coming from shopping when some white jerk yelled out of the passenger side window “Go back to where you came from nigger bitch.” Imagine that, racist and sexist. I remember the year so well, because when I heard him say that, it stopped me dead in my tracks. You see I had never been called that word, before that day, by “any white person.”
Though I grew up in an all black neighborhood, I had interacted with white people all of my life. Growing up, several of my teachers whom I loved dearly, were white. In fact my 2nd grade teacher who was white took me and me alone to see the ballet. My parents’ employers’ were white. My mother who was a manager for a major corporation, and my father who worked for the Transportation Authority had white friends. The meat men who my family purchased our meat from was one black man and one white man.The store owners where my family bought our furniture were white.The lady who my mother purchased her jewelry from was white. And when we traveled, our family interacted with white people.
When I was 14 years old, I altered my birth certificate to say that I was 16 so that I could get a full time summer job working in my mother’s office. I worked in the file room. Today, altering any form of identification would truly be breaking the law and land me In jail. But at that time, it wasn’t such a big deal. Back then, corporations had large offices in the basement filled with really tall cabinets, where all of the company files were kept. Companies hired lots of workers to maintain those files. No need for those gigantic files anymore, because we now have computers to store all that information. Ahhh, those were the good old days, when jobs were plentiful for anyone who wanted to work.
At that time, I worked for a temporary agency who would hook me up for three months straight. Then, I worked with many white people, and they all were great. Being the young girl on the job, several of the women would take me up under their wing and mentor me. Most of the women were white. Lots of times they would buy me lunch.You know, being 14, I really liked to eat junk food.
On that day, in Torrance California, when I heard those words, it stunned me. I was aware of people like that. My grandmother told me stories of white people good and bad growing up in Texas. She wasn’t bashing white people. She just wanted me to understand that life isn’t a bed of roses and that at some point in time I will come in contact with people who won’t like me just because of my skin. But she also told me that every person is not the same, and to judge everyone individually by what they show me. So far, it had been all good. Every white person that I had come in contact with prior was wonderful to me. So when that fool shouted like a maniac, it really hurt.
Going forward, as an adult, attending college, traveling and being in the workplace, though I have white people in my life whom I love, I have encountered racism from others. But guess what, I have never been called a nigger, since that day, to my face, by anyone other than a black person. Yes on many many many occasions, I have been called nigger, by an “African American Person.”
Now I am sure that a lot of my black brothers and sisters are not going to like what I am about to write. But I have to do it anyway. Ever since I was a small child I have been confused about the use of the word nigger. I was taught in school about slavery and the use of the nigger word by white slave owners to belittle, rape, kill and oppress black people. Many horrific things have been done by whites to blacks while using that word.
After reading and learning about those things in school, I would come home and hear on a daily basis, almost every black person that I knew, use that word.
Black women using it when referring to their crazy boyfriends, “Girl that nigga is full of it.” Black men using it as a term of endearment when greeting their friends, “Nigga, what’s up?” And yes, even my southern, church going grandmother saying “Some niggas just ain’t no good.” And my mother who was a professional, and my father used it on a regular basis. (By the way, black people say “Nigga not Nigger.” That’s for you white people reading my blog. And oh, by the way black people, I know that the politically correct term is “African American,” but for this story, black is more appropriate.) Moving on.
This thoroughly confused me. In fact, I would get into debates with black people over the use of the word. I would ask, “How could black people utter that word, when we were all taught that it is so awful and disgusting?” I was always told that when blacks use it, it doesn’t mean the same as when whites use it. When black people use it, it’s a term of endearment, but when white people use it, it’s nothing but hatred. That to me is crazy, and It sounds like bullshit. Nigger/Nigga is either good or either bad.
In my opinion, the word is ugly, and it should never be used by anyone black or white. But many black people use it publicly on a regular basis. Educated black people, non educated people, rich black people, poor black people, you name it.
That being true, “Is it realistic for black people to put conditions on the use of the word?” We can use it but no other race can.” Oh, there is an exception. The white people that black people give permission to or a "ghetto pass," can say the word. As long as they are talking to another black person, and are using the word in the way that a black person tells them to.
Yes permission to. Like when young people say to each other “What’s up my nigga?” If it’s a white person who is a friend of a black person, they have a ghetto pass to say that. Or when white people are listening to hip hop music, they get a ghetto pass to repeat the word “nigga.” I mean, that gets a little bit confusing don’t you think?
I remember hearing Ice Cube during an interview answer a question about his use of the word. He was being scolded about the word in his music. His response was that black people have taken the word and turned it around. He said that nigga does not mean what it used to. It is now used in a good way.
“Well if we as black people have taken the word and turned it around and made it positive, than why do we get so angry if a white person uses it?”
For those of us who are older and closer to the outwardly racist days of the past, nigger meant something different than it does for today’s black youth, who are farther removed from the civil rights movement. They do not really understand the heinousness of the word. They have not experienced it in the same negative way. In my opinion that word could never be positive.
But if we as a black people are going to use it publicly and on records, and in stand-up comedy routines and when referring to our friends as“My Nigga,” than it’s really foolish to tell someone else they cannot use the word just because they are not black.
These people can pay money to come to black shows, download music by black artists, buy the records released by black artists, all while hearing black entertainers say the word nigga, but they being white cannot speak it. And if they do, they will possibly have their entire lives turned upside down, and everything taken away from them. I don’t care what anyone says, that is ridiculous!
I do not like the word nigga. I never have. But even I have found myself using it in the past. I heard it so much up growing up, that it just rolled off of my tongue at times. Usually when talking about a horrible boyfriend. The word for me was never a term of endearment. Nigga or nigger means ignorant. And that’s how I have used it. When I referred to someone as nigger, I meant that they were stupid or ignorant.
Black people we cannot continue to crucify a white person every time they say the word, unless the white person is lynching, murdering, raping or stealing from a black person when they are saying it. And we have laws against those crimes now. So they will get their punishment.
In addition, black people say things about white people all the time. Black people let’s not act as though blacks have not said “Honkey, Cracker, White Bitch, Becky which means whore, and so on, behind closed doors.
I am not saying that white people can greet me as a nigger when they see me.You better not! It will be World War lll, and you might get punched. But a black person better not call me a nigger or nigga either. I am from the old school, so the reaction will be the same.
But, if a white person slips up and says nigger or nigga, maybe they get cursed out from those blacks who don’t like that word.
They should not get sued and have their entire livelihood destroyed just because they use the word! Unless there is something else attached to the word, like a clear case of discrimination.
Read more at www.cnn.com