I thought about using the term “N-Word” in my title and throughout this post but I’m feeling more blunt and less PC today. I need people to read that word and feel the emotional power it still holds for so many, especially people of color. The “N-Word” seems so watered down. Seriously, the chances of me getting mad at somebody saying hey “screw you N-WORD” are very slim. But “screw you NIGGER? There’s a foot chase or something that might result from hearing that. So as I do my editing for this piece, I will be going back in and replacing N-word from the original draft with the actual word nigger. I’m also not going to be too long-winded about this topic. I obviously have some opinions but it won’t take a whole lot of words to make my point about how I feel and will feel until I leave this earth.
Want an idea why this word is so vile? Here are a few images I got just by typing the word “nigger” in Google. Do it yourself and try not to get offended. Good luck with that.
Nigger – a contemptuous term for a black or dark-skinned person
Contemptuous – manifesting, feeling, or expressing deep hatred or disapproval
Whether you understand it or not, whether it makes sense to you, no matter how cool we may become, let’s be very clear white people (or any other NON black person). I don’t care if it ends with an ER or an A, you can NOT use the word NIGGER. EVER. END OF DISCUSSION!
Maybe if your ancestors had used it as a term of endearment on the boat or in the field towards my ancestors, then MAYBE we could discuss some exceptions. Like your parents letting you have a sip of wine at Christmas or other special occasions. Since there was nothing endearing then or now when it’s hurled from an angle of clear intent to insult, you just can’t do it. Well, you can, but be prepared for whatever consequences come as a result. Whether it be losing your job or your damn teeth.
I’m sooooo sick of having this conversation but people have asked me repeatedly “why is it ok for black people to say it and not whites?” (Inserting deep sigh & eye roll). Ask yourself why are you itching to say nigger in the first place? Why would you even WANT to deal with the possibility of saying something that could potentially offend, hurt or insult someone? After you do that, consider this. You have a little brother or sister that drives you nuts. You call them every name in the book when they tick you off. May even push them around or get into fist fights from time to time. Now let someone that’s not a part of your family hit them or call them a name, EVEN THE SAME NAME YOU HAVE CALLED THEM BEFORE. Let somebody else call your little sister a bitch in front of you, even though you called her that this morning for wearing your favorite jeans. Chances are you’re going to protect & stand up for her. See, I’m born with a different “right” as it relates to family than you are. As black people, we’re born with that same right as it relates to the word nigger. It makes us family, forever. Because we’re family, there are going to be certain things that I can do or say with my family members that you can’t. Not without repercussions. You may disagree with that but be warned. If you come at anyone in my family the wrong way, you might catch the wrong side of this coin.
Every now and then we get blessed with the opportunity of someone famous dropping the nigger bomb. We get to have an “honest” conversation about how bad, awful, disappointing it is (for those that care). Then after a few days we go back to our regularly scheduled lives…the lives where people use the word in safe spaces around safe friends, or only say it when that part comes up in their favorite song. Black people have our obligatory fit, deservedly so I might add. We go back and forth about all the circumstances surrounding the culprit, may or may not accept an apology if offered. Depending on who the latest dumbass to commit the sin was, you might hear all kinds of responses. I personally like Bill Maher, don’t agree with everything he says all the time, but I regularly watch his show. He makes me LOL on a regular basis talking about “45” so that’s gets him 1 or 2 points in my book. As an American he has the right to say whatever he wants to. As a comedienne, he’s probably going to always go for the laugh, pop off and say something stupid from time to time. He also needs to be ready for whatever backlash comes with it.
Just like Kathy Griffin and any other “comic” who lives in that world of shock, no lines, etc. You must be willing to accept the fact that just because you don’t see or acknowledge a line, when you cross it and step in that big pile of kaka, take it like a man…or woman. I’m not a big fan of gore, blood and the like, plus I never thought she was really that funny to begin with so I’m kinda “meh” on her little mishap. What she did just wasn’t funny. We can argue the appropriateness of it but it’s kind of her job to not be appropriate.
With Bill Maher, I see him more like the white dude that thinks he SO DOWN with black folks that he can say stuff like that and think it’s ok.
And while I know there are some things black folks will NEVER be able to make non-Black folks understand, him saying it did not bother me as much as if it would have been someone else. I’m sure this will confuse a lot of you, but if a black comic had said it, I probably would have laughed. Black folks at some point in time have all had that “if I had been a slave conversation”. Talking about what we would have done or wouldn’t have done, whether we would have been in the field or the house depending on our skin color. Yes, I have talked about this and other dumb stuff that even we as black people today couldn’t even begin to imagine. Some of you (white folks) are probably sitting there with your head cocked like a pet that doesn’t understand a command because you have NEVER thought what it would have been like to be a slave.
The key here though is that I have had these conversations with OTHER BLACK PEOPLE. With family. Not with a white dude trying to make a joke out of the nuances of slavery.
Yes it was a joke, a bad one and distasteful, especially in this climate, but do I think he made it with an intent to insult black folks? Nope, I don’t even think it crossed his mind which expresses a different type of white privilege in my opinion. By saying it was a joke, I’m not excusing it in any way so keep your panties on and un-wadded. If I’m being completely honest though, something about him saying it didn’t sting as much as I’m sure it would have if say Donald Trump or Steve Bannon had said the same thing. Like I would be marching butt ass nekkid down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue with a pink hat on! Even hearing Trump say “my African American” in a speech made me mad as hell. I didn’t have that same reaction with Bill Maher though. Does that make me a hypocrite because I would come down harder on one person over the other for the same offense? Maybe, but I’m just being honest about my initial reaction. Should I hold him more accountable or be more hurt/surprised because he’s supposed to be one of the good guys? I don’t know. I’m not going to say what anyone thinks I “should” say if I feel something else. Am I going to boycott his show? Probably not. If I start boycotting everybody that says some foul crap, uses the word nigger, or has a different view than me, I wouldn’t have anything to watch on TV. That would probably end up like my Chik-Fil-A “boycott” because of their views about gay people. I was committed and willing to take one for the team…until I wanted a milk shake. They have whipped cream AND a cherry on top y’all! I wasn’t ready 🙂
I personally think it takes a bigger person to recognize your ability to get away with or have a pass (if that exists in your relationship with a black person) and NOT use the word. If you are blessed enough to have a unique bond with a person of color, respect your relationship and respect your ability to protect it by NOT playing that card. Even if your black friend dealt it to you. Even if you’re the cool white person with the understanding black friend who knows you don’t mean any harm or knows there’s not a racist bone in your body…just DON’T. I have plenty of white friends that at one point and time in my life I probably wouldn’t have cared one way or another if they said that around me. Not called ME a nigger directly because that will always elicit at the very least a good cussing out, but just using the word in general. I don’t feel that way now though so for all my white homies that I love so dearly, just in case any questions have been floating around in your mind about where we stand…say “N-word” and keep your teeth.
That word is like a knife. You can use it as a weapon or as a tool. You used it as a weapon – Ice Cube on Bill Maher