Nigga, please.

*originally posted on my old blog on December 21, 2015

We all know someone.
Most likely, more than just someone.
Someone who’s not black who just loves to throw around the n-word like its not a big deal.

The adorable white girl that the hood guys love.
The Latinx person who thinks they’re “close enough.”
The white boy who struggled a bit.
Or worst of all, the group of non-POC, upper-middle class, adolescents who think that it’s okay because they have a black friend, or heard it in a song, or just feel like there’s no issue with what they’re doing whatsoever.

Mind you, these same people will stutter over word choice and then proceed with saying “African-American” instead of “black” when trying to describe someone to a black person because they don’t want to come across as racist.

I don’t necessarily know how I feel about it, and that’s why I’m writing this now. I want perspective and feedback from the (almost 600) people who have read my blog (thank you guys so much, by the way).
I grew up in Cooper City, Florida, a small suburb that is over 90% white. There were 91 houses in the neighborhood that I lived in, and my family was the only black one. My perspective is going to be different than someone who has been surrounded by the riches of black culture their whole life, which is why I really hope this piece generates some feedback.

Besides in songs and overhearing random conversation that I had nothing to do with, I first heard the n-word used by my rather profane (but still loving and wonderful) aunt at a family event when I was around 12 years old. My mother looked appalled and literally shielded my ears as if that was supposed erase the last 2 seconds of my life. My grandmother, who marched on Washington and was close personal friends with southern Civil Rights leaders, was ashamed at her daughter (my aunt) for using a word that she fought so hard to eliminate from modern language. Now, there was some back and forth between the three aforementioned parties that my 12 year old self couldn’t hear because I wasn’t old enough, but I heard something about “reclaiming” the term. When I got home, I researched it.

I stumbled across an interview that Oprah did with Jay-Z, where he talks about his frequent use of the n-word. She did not like its use at all and wanted all people–black and white–to stop using it. He replied with the point that even if people stopped using the n-word in a negative way, another negative slur would take it’s place. (Note: Fox and CNN’s affinity for the word “thug.”) He said that the power of a word lies in the speaker’s intention, and if we can reclaim a formerly derogatory term to mean affection to a friend, then it’s not a problem. I really agree with this. But then Oprah points out that both black and white people were screaming the n-word at a concert that she attended and it took him a little longer to formulate a response, which ended up echoing his previous one. I’d say I was at this point in this gray area when this interview was conducted, in 2009.

In 2009, I was in middle school with a bunch of white kids who were listening to Lil Wayne (back in his prime), Kanye West, Chris Brown and a multitude of other black artists who frequently used the n-word. I guess through music, the media and pop-culture, it just suddenly became okay for non-black people to use the n-word. Um. I didn’t even use the n-word. I never said anything about it though, because as the token black girl with a short perm and thunder thighs that I was constantly trying to force into distressed shorts from Abercrombie and Fitch, I felt lucky to even have a semi-close group of friends, and I didn’t want to seem like I was constantly playing the race card. (I really hated myself during middle school). It’s not that it sat well with me, because it didn’t, at all. I was just trying to be a twelve year old girl who got invited to the sleepovers and had someone to stand with in the lunch line and, at that point in time, my concern for popularity outweighed defending my blackness.

Now, its 2015. And I’m engaged in the news and media. And I’m not having the shit. Niggas die every day. I’m out here protesting for my niggas. White people will never know what it’s like to be a nigga, but they want to say it so bad. All I can ask is why?

Why is is necessary for a white person to use the n-word?
Why do you feel that you can throw it around so freely?
Why do you want to say “nigga” so bad, but can’t imagine what its like to really be a nigga?
Does it make you feel cool? Like you fit in?

Eminem has rapped for over twenty years in an industry filled with black people and has not said the n-word in any of his over 100 songs which black men co-wrote, produced, and recorded.

I’ve had coworkers say the n-word, I’ve had “friends” say the n-word, I’ve had classmates say the n-word and it just baffles me how freely it just flies out of their mouths like they’re literally doing nothing wrong. It’s not that these people are racist, because the majority of them are actually somewhat cool. I just don’t understand how the hell you think you’re entitled to a word that my people endured generations of suffering from, for us to finally reclaim in a positive (that’s debatable, but that’s a-whole-nother piece) manner, and you just sit back and take it. Afros aren’t ours anymore, slicked edges aren’t ours anymore, cornrows aren’t ours anymore, dreads aren’t ours anymore. Are bonnets going to be on the Givenchy runway at 2016 Paris Fashion Week as a “French Inspired Silk Headpiece?” Well damn, if we can’t have the n-word, what the hell can we have?

All jokes aside, if you’re white and reading this, I really appreciate it, please leave some input in the comments section. If you’re black and reading this, I really appreciate it, please leave some input in the comments section. Just think–the next time you go to casually use the n-word– everyone wants to say “nigga,” but do you really know what it’s like to be a nigga?

xo -Crys.

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