“If you aren’t black then you don’t have the right to say ni**a to anyone.”
Who is and isn’t allowed to say the dreaded ‘N’ word has been a never ending debate between the African American community and the rest of the nation for a very long time. While each side makes a valuable point, I do have my own thoughts on the matter.
How I see it, African American people earned the “right” to say the ‘N’ word after facing years of slavery, death, abuse and more. They were able to form their own colloquialism and adapt the once offensive term, “Nigger” into a slightly less harsh term “nigga.”
In today’s world, we are frequently exposed to various cultures and languages through music, movies, artists, etc. For a nation that thrives off of its celebrities, to be faced with a frequented term and told you cant use it is very difficult. Imagine being a prejudice free Caucasian student wanting to fit in with the African American community. You perhaps might sing along to popular hits on the radio or attempt to use terms associated with black people. So, in talking, right after one girl in the group says, “what’s up my N****” you respond “nothing much n****.” Why is it suddenly so disrespectful of you to say that?
I personally agree that many people in the African American community make a valid point on why others shouldn’t be allowed to say the term, but is a bit unpractical.
Let’s take myself for example. I was born in the U.S Virgin Islands to Latino parents from the Dominican Republic. I was raised in the USVI primarily in all black schools–not to mention I also have black uncles, great great grandparents, etc. This being said it was my culture to be raised (on a serious slave-trade island with direct descents to slaves in the Caribbean) with people who by the AA definition, would have the right to use the N word.
Growing up, this mean the world was my oyster and I could say it too. No one ever got offended or said I shouldn’t say it because 1) they knew me 2) they used it as well 3)knew I was of black and hispanic origin 4) and finally just didn’t care.
Flash forward to be in college in Texas and I say it on the phone to an old friend from home. In the cafeteria I immediately get dirty looks and stares. Someone in class says I don’t have the right to say it. It’s not my culture. I didn’t have to endure what she went though. While that last part may be true, she doesn’t know me and my culture.
So what exactly is our solution? How can you get “white” people to stop using it when comedians, singers, actors, classmates all use it so freely.
Another student in our class brought up not using the word at all, by anyone. While this may be ideal, it is nearly impossible to get an entire group of people to forget a word in their vocabulary.
I guess my solution is while we can’t stop the word from being used, we should attempt to limit its social presence. We try to be more understanding when we hear it and when we say it. I personally believe that we currently are facing larger dilemmas (I’m not saying the culture and reasoning behind the n-word isn’t important) and need to focus on the future of our nation rather than one word. If not we may have even larger issues, such as history repeating itself.
For more views on this topic feel free to check out this CNN discussion panel over the use of the n-word.