Why You Can't Use The N-Word

Normal day in Siditty's life, she goes to visit her mother

Siditty's Mother: "Hi Siditty"
Siditty: "What's up my nigga?"
Siditty's Mother: ::silent rage::
Siditty: ::Knocked out on the ground unconscious::

::Pretend this is Siditty and not Suge Knight, and she is at her parent's house, not at a night club::

Contrary to popular belief, I don't use the n-word. I know that since Lil Wayne and all the rappers use it, that equates to all black people using the word, but the fact of the matter is my parents don't use the word (at least in front of me), my friends who are black don't use it, and I don't use it.

I know I am a magical negro. I know that "I'm not like the others", but in reality, I am black, and like many other blacks, realize that the word carries many negative connotations, and even in the year 2009, the world is hurtful and painful to many people, including me.

I know you will think "Wow, slavery is over, why can't you let it go, it's just a word?" See to some of us, it is more than a word, and racism didn't end with slavery. After slavery we had Jim Crow, that denied blacks the rights to a quality education, access to restaurants, stores, parks, pools, bathrooms, transportation, all kinds of places. It also kept blacks from voting. This happened clear until the 1960s.

I know this is crazy, to some, but my parents remember the 1960s. I know me being 33, my mom should only be about 45 or 46, after all, all black people start having children as soon as possible and breeding like cockroaches, but my mother remembers, my father remembers. They remember when it was all the rage for white people to use the n-word, they used it freely and often, without repercussion.

Just because whites then had the "right" to use the word, didn't mean the word didn't have negative connotations or had a negative impact. Just because it is 2009, doesn't mean the word is no longer a word with the same meaning. The meaning is still there. It didn't go away because Nas and Jay Z enjoy using it in their songs.

I'm also going to let you in on a secret. White people still use the word. They don't always use it out in the open, but some do use it, and often. You should read my emails and the comments that don't make it on this blog. I can remember the 1st time I heard the n-word, my family and some of their friends were called the n-word by a man when I was a little kid at a carnival, not too far from a "sundown town". I was born after the era of Jim Crow, and my blog and email address were established after Jim Crow as well. I know this is shocking, but in the year 2009, racism still exists. I say this often, but people tend to forget this all the time, and it concerns me.

If you are white, why are you so eager to use it? I have yet to get a answer to this. Is it really a double standard to use this word? I mean it is kind of like cursing. I might curse when in my home, but at work, I don't call my boss an asshole because he would get on my nerves, nor do I call my co-workers dumb mother fuckers if they do something I don't like, or if I don't like them. I know better than to say that, it is rude, and it isn't polite, nor professional. What would saying the n-word do for a white person, what would you accomplish with that?

I mean I know white people received carte blanche to use the n-word back in the day, but do we want to go back to the era of Jim Crow? Will that make everything right with the world, and eradicate racism to go back to the "good old days", which were full of racism?

I also question the black people who are under the impression all black people go around using the n-word. Who do you hang out with? Is this normal for you? Why would you surround yourself with blatant stupidity, as anyone who uses the word in my mind is stupid. That's how I grew up, the word was ugly, nasty, and not something anyone with a lick of sense would say. Maybe you should break the cycle. Maybe no one told you, we buried the n-word.


G said...

Good post.

I know I cringe when I hear the word used (mostly in music or movies) in today's environment, but it can be tough to ignore sometimes, especially if you read books and newspapers from the 19th and early 20th century.

I guess it begs the question, should usage of the word be torpedoed no matter in what context it's used, or should certain exceptions be made?

givepeace05401 said...

It really troubles me (breaks my heart) to hear our young people using this word so freely.

Are they hearing this word at home? Do they use this word in front of their parents and teachers?

Monie said...

Whenever I hear someone using the N word I always think a fight is about to breakout. It's impossible for me to tell when a person is using the N word as a term of endearment (yeah right) or when they are about to fight.

I think the word is an example of blatant self-hatred. And it has spread now to other ethnic groups using it to address each other. But of course none of those groups use the derogatory word that has been used against their ethnic group to address each other. I wonder why.

underOvr (aka The U) said...


I've gone through an internal debate each time I've used the word in a post. I'm uncomfortable using it but when I'm writing to make a point, I will use the word.

I agree there is a power historically inherent in the word, giving it the capacity to imbue and erode. I do not practice the use of it conversationally.


Anonymous said...

I will preface this saying it isn't relative to the topic at hand. Please check out this story on CNN:


Where is the outcry? I can't help think that this stops some relationships that could happen. I am sure you might of done a post like this before. But wondering if you could divulge here.

Thank you.

A. Spence said...

"I know I am a magical negro."

All of a sudden Puff the Magic Dragon song popped into my head.

the N word makes me cringe. I hate hearing it's use.

HawkMom said...

I don't care who uses it, as long as they don't use it around me. I'm black and I've never felt comfortable using the word. Nobody has ever sounded intelligent saying it. I'm not offended when I hear it in songs or when comedians say it, but I also limit my exposure to certain forms of entertainment like that. A Chris Rock routine is topical. A rapper using it as lyrical filler? Not so much.

Beautifully.Conjured.Up said...

I love this post.

It made me think about a recent conversation I had with an associate who happens to be a high school math teacher and an assistant basketball coach. I noticed that he said the N word often, and I asked him how does he feel about his students using the word...he said, "Not a damn thing."


The New Black Woman said...

Very good post! And, yes, you are a Magical Negro--you are articulate, CLEAN and able to put a sentence together.

I always cringe when I hear this word being tossed around, particularly from the mouths of young people.

I have the belief that the word always stings in some form or fashion no matter how you use it.

The Sphinx said...

I totally agree. This word was, is, and always will be offensive. No matter who uses it. No matter in what context they use it. There's no such thing as an endearing offensive word. WTH? I think sometimes black people are the worst when it comes to stuff like this. This word is released from their mouths on a regular, but they're ready to fight when others use it. How about trying to set an example. I hate this word.

Anonymous said...

This blog is pretty cool. Not sure if anyone is interested in this, but, as a person from a European country that has very, very few black people, I have to say that the way the n-word comes off through the media here makes it seem harmless or even friendly. A lot of young people around me think it's similar to "mate" or "buddy", because they see black people say it to one another in movies. I have a friend who got banned from a public chat for saying it to another white guy, on a friendly tone, and he was very surprised that he got banned. I think it would be good if this word disappeared from public speech altogether.

Jamdown said...

I have never used the "N" word. Yes, a few black people around me use it as a joke, but it is not a word that I approve of, or that I believe should be used by any person - black or white, except for historical purposes.

I've heard the claim that by using it, blacks are making it harmless, but this cannot be true because if a white person uses the "N" word, we're all ready to beat him/her down. And justifiably so.

CC said...

the first time i heard black folk use it was way back, and it was used in the way i've always hated. i.e. 'effin' n#*#**s, this is why people hate us' it was used as a shaming of any black person that someone felt might jeopardize yt loving them. what made this worse for me was this was an incident of police brutality and yet a few black folk we're labeling those that we're victims n#*##**s and embarrassments.

thank god the conscious movement came back and it found it's way into hip hop. a shame that for those that wanted to reclaim the word, they didn't follow the same reasoning some pro black folk did i.e. x-clan lyric 'i'm that pro black n#*##* that they can't stand' and double shame the conscious movement faded away once again.

livinonfaith said...

I'm white and 44 years old so I've seen a definite change in the use and power structure of this word as time has passed, at least in my very limited circles. I don't pretend that my experience is the same as anyone else, but for the record, here it is.

When I was growing up, the N word was the worst possible curse word you could use in our household. Shit or damn would get you a lecture, but my siblings and I never even experimented with the N word, because we understood that it was on a completely different level. My parents felt that it was a very hateful and personal slur, one best never used.

On the other hand, I knew other people in my outer circle of family and friends who used it, some rarely, some often. When I was older and asked them about it, some of them (especially the older people) truly seemed to think that it was just what you called all black people. Others only used it to label those black people that they felt fit the negative stereotypes of black people. I don't excuse them for it, but apparently they were brought up differently than I was.

As time moved on, almost all of the white people I know had completely dropped this word from their public vocabulary. It was just not acceptable to say it in polite circles unless we were lamenting it's use in songs or the fact that kids don't seem to know it's history. I don't know if some still used it in private, but they didn't around me.

Unfortunately, with the current use in songs and as a slang for friend, I have begun to hear "my nigga" thrown around, especially among young adults. I guess the line of thinking is, "well black people say it, so it must be okay."

It is discouraging to me and it very much feels like we are all taking a step backwards, but I don't know what to do about it. I am teaching my son about the history of the word and it's negative aspects, but popular culture is telling him something very different.

What do you do as a parent to combat this? How can I express the pain that this word has caused to so many, when even the children of those it has been used against don't seem to understand it's vileness?

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