The ‘N’ word *slaps forehead*
I’m going tob start off by saying that I in no way, shape or form condone the use of the N word. I do say it from time to time, mainly because I am surrounded by people who are influenced by pop culture in which the word is commonly used. But when asked how I feel about the word or if it is right for black people to say it, my answer is clear: a word that carries the baggage of slavery, colonisation and all the other prejudice and racism black people have faced, shouldn’t be used by anyone.
So over the past year or two there’s been an increase in the number of times I’ve heard or heard about a white person saying the ‘N’ word. In terms of times when I’ve heard it myself, I realise that there has been an increase because of the changes in my environment: leaving a comfortable school evnrionment where teachers inforce rules and going to uni where people are free to have their opinions (even if they are neo-nazi values) and that is just acceptable. As a result, I’ve heard all kinds of arguments about why white people feel they have a right to say the word, so let’s address these first and then address black people who also use it.
The most basic rule for getting along with people is to not go and do exactly what they do not want you to do. Black people obviously don’t like it when you say the word so why say it? That’s like poking a bear and expecting it not to chase you. Or it’s like bombing North Korea and lawd, I don’t even need to explain why political leaders (excluding the “deranged” Trump) wouldn’t do that. If people don’t like something, don’t do it. It’s that simple.
Secondly, what reason do “non-racist” white people even have to say the word? None. Absolutely none. I get that pop culture exposes people more and more to the use of the word but just because you watch a murder show, that doesn’t mean you then go out of your way to kill someone. I know that’s an extreme example and it perhaps isn’t a fair one considering I went from never ever saying the word to occasionally dropping it in conversations because of the people I had around me. However, if I were a white person (bare with the hypothetical situation) I wouldn’t want to say a word that my ancestors used to to describe the race they minimised, enslaved and dehumanised. By saying the words you carry the sins of your collective past. Black people are not going to just get over slavery and colonisation and being mistreated even after the abolition of both. So why trigger them to remember? Believe it or not, there is a literary concept that states that words carry their own baggage. A great example is the word “love”. The word love carries values and generally isn’t thrown about because when you tell someone you love them, its as though you’re calling on every time that word has been used and what is has previously represented. Its the same with the N word: when a white person says it, it triggers black people to remember the negativity behind the etymology of the word and all its connotations.
Finally, yes, telling a white person not to say the N word challenges their freedom of speech. Yes, we can say that black people are segregating themselves by creating a barrier for white people. However, in the grand scheme of things… That’s simply stupid as hell. I had a conversation (yes a conversation and not an argument) with an asian lady on twitter who was defending this point. I said to her that black people are still sent home for their natural hair being unprofessional at work, black people are systematically kept away from high positions at work by some companies and many black people are not equally protected by the law. In theory we have all these rights but in practice, our rights are neglected and at times completely ignored.
It doesn’t matter if black people can say it and you can’t. A conversation on white equality is pointless if everyone else still isn’t equal.
And black people. I don’t get why or how the N word shifted from being a word slave masters made to a word we own. I mean, I do. It started as satire, mockery. But now its a word that we’re comfortable with. But we need to rename ourselves because I doubt our ancestors would be okay with our acceptance of the word. And although its a silly argument, telling white people they can’t sing the N word in our songs or that they can’t quote it is stupid and believe it or not its a form of segregation. In the long term, the word should be abolished. Starting with ourselves.
This was just the ramblings of my brain on this issue. But I hope whoever reads this takes something from it.