Journal Entry # 100
June 19th, 2010
This is my 100th post. That is exciting. I am going to write about a subject that I think many are afraid to talk about openely and respectfuly . My intention is to ask questions and try and understand while offering my humble opinion at times. My intention is not disrespect but open respectful communication while covering the important points. I hope that you are able to join me and offer your opinion on this subject. Change begins with understanding.
I have always had a hard time understanding all the uproar over the word nigger. Why do black people get so upset when they hear this word? Why do they call each other niggers if it is so upsetting? Why does it still to this day carry the negative connotations that it once had? I’ll never forget the first time I saw Blazing Saddles, the Mel Brooks film made in 1974; the comedy surrounding the word nigger was hilarious. I was not laughing because it was racist I was laughing because it was just funny since the star of the movie was black. It was set in the late 1800’s when the word nigger was used in a derogatory, racist manner. I never even thought of using nigger as an insult towards another human. I lived in a part of Toronto that was a mish mash of many races and cultures. I was called every white slang name you could think of but it did not bother me it was just how we all communicated.
The word ‘Nigger’ – Richard Pryor & George Carlin
So, why all the problems? What does the word actually mean?
nig·ger (ngr) n. Offensive Slang
1. a. Used as a disparaging term for a Black person: “You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger” (James Baldwin).
b. Used as a disparaging term for a member of any dark-skinned people.
2. Used as a disparaging term for a member of any socially, economically, or politically deprived group of people.
nigger [ˈnɪgə] n
a. another name for a Negro
b. (as modifier) nigger minstrels
2. Offensive a member of any dark-skinned race
nigger in the woodpile a hidden snag or hindrance
As you can see the word can be deemed offensive or just another word for Negro. It is just a word.
Ok I understand that it is an offensive term but only if you want it to be. It is completely subjective. I will direct you to my post on The Code / Offend, http://thefreeman.net/journal/?p=708 I firmly believe that no one can offend you, you can only offend yourself. Read the post. So if this is truly the case then why do people lose their mind when they hear the word nigger especially if they are black? Why can black people call each other niggers which you hear all the time in black culture and art and white people cannot? I believe that a black person is capable of killing someone over this feeling justified that you insulted them. You can call me whatever you want and it will not bother me. If I hear the term cracker it has no effect on me. This is the year 2010 so why are we still getting caught up in slave terminology from 200 years ago?
Boss Nigger /1975
Now I realize that there are still people who use this as a racist comment but it is not the word it is the person and the context they are using it in. As long as we still continue to give this word the power it will invoke crazy reactions. Race will eventually no longer be an issue as lines that were once considered taboo continue to be eliminated. Soon we will become the human race not recognized by our color.
If black people are so offended by the word nigger then as a culture or race why don’t they stop referring to each other in this manner? Are all black people offended? It seems to also be a word that a black person can be proud of as it is used to identify a culture in certain art forms such as Hip Hop. I think if you were to take the word out of the music it would not be as effective.
Clerks II (Porch Monkey)
The infamous porch monkey scene from Clerks 2 really puts all of this into perspective. Look at some point people have to realize that nigger/ porch monkey or whatever you get upset over are just words and that if some racist idiot uses them you only give him/her the power if you react to it. Remember there is a big difference between words and actions. Words will not hurt you but actions can we are talking about words here so let us not get the two mixed up. If someone is physically threatening or harming you that is a whole different matter.
Should I walk around calling all of my friends cracker this and cracker that? If you use the term should I lose my mind? Have you ever seen a show or a movie were people were very upset about the word nigger being used. At the same time I have seen shows where the word cracker was used in a derogatory manner and no one really cared. I saw a basketball movie depicting a team of black players I think in the 60’s when black players were not common in high school ball in the USA. The movie was about breaking the color barrier which existed at the time. When one of the black players was called a nigger and was threatened people lost their mind. A few scenes later the same player is talking with another black player calling white people crackers every other word and no one cared. It is all subjective.
Remember NIGGER is just a word. It is your choice how you determine the power of the word and the context it is used in. The more power you give it the longer it remains offensive. This really is an issue which will soften over time as the world changes. At this point there are other groups which people find they hate more like Atheists. In most States in the USA an Atheist is not legally allowed to run for public office. I am an Atheist but I don’t lose my mind when someone calls me it. Atheist at this point is more of a derogatory name than nigger but remember it is just a word that each one of us chooses to give life or not.
In the USA a nigger is president but an Atheist can’t be. So really it’s not the word it is the context. The president is only a nigger if you see it that way to me he /she would just be another human being.
Seek the truth always
Gary David Currie