Friday, November 16, 2007

My Reaction to the N-Word

So being a black female, one would think that I would be offended by "the N-word," for the standard garden variety bunch of reasons: 1) Using the word equates to a hate crime. 2) We have relationship with the word that reminds us of a brutal and painful history which lasted centuries. 3) My people have been oppressed with use of that word--yada yada yada.

(I even have a problem saying my people because it sounds so exclusive, like I'm drawing a circle in the sand and forcing others to stay out.) In fact, the key to ending racism is eliminating exclusivity. Erase the line. End racism by including everyone and accepting everyone as your own--as your son, as your daughter, as your mother, as your creepy uncle. I mean, c'mon, you tolerate his creepiness by inviting him back to all the family reunions. And you can't tolerate some other completely sane person of another background?)

If you're racist and you want to stop being racist (kind of like being fat and wanting to shed some pounds), then this is the first step you can take.

In fact, I will make that the title for another blog post, "Steps you can take to stop being racist." However, that's for another day.

Back to the N-word:
The way I see it, the moment that word leaves your mouth you've already placed yourself into a category---Idiot--- despite your race, ethnicity, and background. If you're white and you use it, you're an idiot. If you're black and you say it, still an idiot. Being black does not exonerate you from being an idiot if you use the N-word. You're just as bad as your stupid white brethren. You're not forgiven or given any leeway because you're black. Understand this rule, and you'll never be in the wrong in an argument.

I also I don't think the N-word should be buried by the NAACP. My comedian friend, Josh Homer, pointed out to me, that the NAACP is being hypocritical.

"Any organization with the word "colored" in it, isn't allowed to bury the N-word."

'Nuff said.

Lucy, you're a sellout.

Au contraire my friend. You're selling out every time you use that word. You're selling yourself and "your people" (cringing after writing that) every time you that word leaves your mouth.

One thing I've always heard is, you choose to be offended by that word and any other word that makes your blood boil. For some, that's a difficult realization. So I'll say it again. You choose what you will be offended by.. No one wants to admit being controlled by any one thing, especially a word. The way you see it, someone says the word and you react. But guess what? Newsflash: You have the ability to stop yourself from reacting. You can train yourself out of it--to not affect you, especially if you don't consider yourself one.

So I choose not to let it control me. It never has. I'm not offended by the word and at the same time I choose not to use it to purposely hurt others. It's kinda the same way I think of expletives. For example: I'm not offended by the c-word, but I also choose not to use it, either.

Overall, neither of those words define me. I barely feel comfortable using the words black or woman or comedian. You can find
more of my neurotic ramblings about this subject
at my friend's blog.

So how does this N-word relate to comedy?
Chris Rock has a very popular routine involves this very word. He has a very clever approach on this subject by never pointing fingers and saying, "You're a [fill in your choice of expletive here.]" He just makes a comparison by what should be and what shouldn't. He keeps them separate. Let's admire his finesse and grace as he dances through his routine.

Notice he does the Jeff Foxworthy thing. He leaves you (the audience) to assign the bad quality to someone. And as an audience member, you usually assign that quality to someone other than yourself. He'll say, "If you fit these characteristics, then you must be an idiot."

And what sane person is going to say, "Yeah, that's me! I'm the idiot! That sounds about right."

No, of course not. They're going to say, "I know someone exactly like that." And never point the finger at themselves. Thereby showing no blame---no accountability. He made his point and no one gets hurt.

Well, don't think Rock got away scot-free. Don't think he didn't receive any criticism for the "Black people versus N*ggers" routine--because he did. Why? Because he told the untold story, a story that is touchy, bordering offensive. He was opening up old wounds and pouring salt on them. It was criticism from one of our own. Faults that blacks felt should remain within the black community and not broadcast for the world to see. People felt violated because it was a private, unspoken truth. Personally, I don't think it's private if everybody in the room is thinking it. It's the Collective Consciousness, right? The cat's out of the bag and has been for a long time. The problem was no one was choosing to say anything--that is, until Rock.

So when Rock came out with this routine, I felt vindicated. I found myself not only laughing but nodding in agreement at the end of every punchline. Because I wasn't one of them. I'm not a "N-word." I knew I would never be one. I know the friends I associate with will never be. I knew my family members would never be.

My reaction to the N-word is that I don't have one. It's water off of my back. And I really think everyone (all black and white people) needs to take the stance. I think people give the word more power than it deserves. And once we stop using it, the clanging of the chains will fade. The wounds of the past will heal. We will finally be able to rise above it, so that we can forgive and forget, and move on. The problem is there are too many people that want to mire in the past. Those that don't want to forgive or forget or move on. Can't we all just get along?

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Indeterminacy said...

That was a great post, and the Chris Rock routine was the icing on the cake. I'm very happy to find out about these names that usually never make it overseas.

Myself, I get offended when someone mistakenly calls me German.

Ashley said...

That's one of the healthiest rundowns of the word I've seen. Those who work with language naturally have the most facility with words. They're just tools after all. Keep showing everyone how to use them.

Karen (Karooch from Scraps of Mind) said...

Sensational post Lucy. So many great points. And that Chris Rock clip was perfect. Gotta share this with the world.

BipolarLawyerCook said...

So true. It's the conscious choice that determines all. Great post.

Yoda said...

I like your attitude on the issue! I can only imagine what'd happen if NAACP thought that way!

Kaet said...

I prefer the Daily Show piece about the n-word and when it was about to get banned in NYC. :)

I love Chris Rock's performance, makes me laugh everytime.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Ah, Chris Rock!

When I was looking for images for your post, I was trying to remeber his name.

I couldn't.

Windyridge said...

A really great post and the Chris Rock video really enhanced it. Nicely done. Let's spread this post around. I'll Digg and Stumble.

reasonable robinson said...

Very thoughtful post. The meaning of communication isthe ways it's received I guess.. I have red hair (well di have at school) and I hated being called Copper Knob!

voodooKobra said...

Great article. I'll be sure to check out your later posts.

6FM said...

Thought provoking and very well written!

Anonymous said...

I myself am from a different ethnicity (Hispanic) so I can never truly understand what the n-word really represents between "Whites and Blacks". I do though understand the concept of ignorance and racism. The Chris Rock bit was a perfect addition to your post and I really appreciate reading open conversations about "taboo" topics.

How do you feel about the different points of view between Older and Younger Generations on this topic?

Anonymous said...

I agree. I'm Jewish, and I certainly don't use derogatory words that others use against my people. Of course, I know of many words that are derogatory towards Jews that almost no one in the state I live know about. I also purposely avoid using words that are a put-down to those of another ethnicity or race. I don't use the n-word because I actually was brought up to not use terms like that.

SimoneM said...

Great post, Lucy. I wish everyone would define themselves by their actions and achievements and communicate with each other on that level... Thanks for your honesty and insight.

Robert House said...

When I first saw this on digg I was afraid it was going to be the "direct let's abolish the word" approach, and I was happy to read about the real way to deal with problems instead. There is real truth in the whole turn the other cheek approach. People made words part of their lexicon and it is not a word that is going to go away, but the reaction can go away, and it will, here is the good reason, ruin it for the racists.


Alan said...

Interesting article. It reminded me of arguments I've had with other gay men about the word "faggot". I'm honestly not sure whether I agree that when a member of an oppressed group uses derogatory slang about the group himeself he is being as you say just as stupid as outsiders who use the word. I think there may really be something to the idea of taking back hateful language and removing its ability to hurt, but I'm honestly not sure.

And your post certainly made me think about it some more, which is what good posts do. Congratulations on making Digg's front page, Lucy.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile I agree that racism based upon skin color is ridiculous, the use of the so called "N word" doesn't bother mean, I could care less if you drop the word nigger in every other sentence, as long as you have a relative relationship to the person, and are aware that the person will not take offense to the use of this terminology who cares, knowing your not racist is something justified by you not a word.

Anonymous said...

Lenny Bruce made a career out of ridiculing people for being oversensitive about language. Here's an excerpt from one of his performances; I think he did a good job of making pretty much the same point you are making:
By the way, are there any niggers here tonight?

(Outraged whisper) "What did he say? Are there any niggers here tonight?' Jesus Christ! Does he have to get that low for laughs? Wow! Have I ever talked about the schwarzes when the schwarzes had gone home? Or spoken about the Moulonjohns when they'd left? Or placated some Southerner by absence of voice when he ranted and raved about nigger nigger nigger?"

Are there any niggers here tonight? I know that one nigger who works here, I see him back there. Oh, there's two niggers, customers, and, ah, aha! Between those two niggers sits one kike-- man, thank God for the kike! Uh, two kikes. That's two kikes, and three niggers, and one spic. One spic-- two, three spics. One mick. One mick, one spic, one hick, thick, funcky, spunky boogey. And there's another kike. Three kikes. Three kikes, one guinea, one greaseball. Three greaseballs, two guineas. Two guineas, one hunky funky lace-curtain Irish mick. That mick spic hunky funky boogey. Two guineas plus three greaseballs and four boogies makes usually three spics. Minus two Yid spic Polack funky spunky Polacks.

AUCTIONEER: Five more niggers! Five more niggers!

GAMBLER: I pass with six niggers and eight micks and four spics.

The point? That the word's suppression gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness. If President Kennedy got on television and said, "Tonight I'd like to introduce the niggers in my cabinet,: and he yelled "nig- gerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggergigger" at every nigger he saw, "boogeyboogeyboogeyboogeyboogey,nig-gerniggerniggernigger" till nigger didn't mean anything any more, till nigger lost its meaning-- you'd never make any four-year-old "nigger" cry when he came home from school.

Anonymous said...

And let us not forget "cracker", now known as the other c-word. It too, a hate crime. And please, make sure when you order soup to ask for bread wafers. Please. But not "white bread" wafers. Not the w-b-word. Bleached bread. Much easier on the ears of the PC-minded european-american. I love the idea of hate crimes. I thought that we didn't have enough reasons to arrest and detain people. We can't slow down if we wanna maintain our legendary prison population. Any day now, Pakistan will give us a run for our money! Bravo!

Nee Ophou said...

this blog post is so dumb and backward, it aims provoke hatred amongst our own black race, which so hypocritical, if you think long and hard into this issue of using the "N", you will ultimately observe and come to the conclusion that if you treat it as something that is important, wouldnt it become more important? and wouldnt that defeat the cause of trying to get rid of it, we treat it as a expletive and expletives are offensive, what if we stop treating it as a expletive? would it then be offensive to you? this blog seeks to dig a hole and throw the "N" word down in it and cover it up with dirt, will that help the situation, if we pretend its non exitent? NO WAY IT DOSNT!, there is a whole history behind the word, personally i dont think trying to "bash" me with the word or avoid it is going to end the usage of it, and that chris rock insert is TERRIBLE! that in no way help to clarify nothing, as matter of fact it causes more confusion! the "N" word dosnt offend me in no way or form,BUT I DO FEEL OFFENDED BY THIS POST, i wouldnt be surprised if it was a white person who wrote this blog, i leave you with a thought, what would malcolm X, Martin Luther king, MARCUS GARVEY, and all the other black freedom figthers do to rid the "N" word from the society today?

Lucy said...

Indeterminacy - Your support has always been great, Indy. Chris Rock is king when it comes to addressing this subject. I had to give him proper deference. Don't worry. Now that you found me, this blog will be your source for "all-things-comedy." Thanks again!

Ashley - I always aim for healthy. I think it makes sense to live a balanced life. With regards to words as tools, yes, well, I consider myself a writer first and a comedian second. Thank you again for your support.

Karen (Karooch from Scraps of Mind) - Chris is the master. I hope to follow in his footsteps and perhaps even carve my own path.

BipolarLawyerCook - I can't remember who said it first, but "Life is a series of choices." I think that's an empowering statement. Once you realize that, your perspective changes. You become more proactive than reactive.

Yoda - NAACP is an outdated and a "should-be-obsolete" organization. They operate like a union. Unions and the NAACP went out with acid-washed jeans. Sooo passé!

Kaet - I have never seen the Daily Show piece. I'm going to have to ask you for a link for that---pretty please!

Crushed by Ingsoc - Yeah, Chris Rock is lesser-known overseas. I'm not sure his hard-hitting approach would hit so hard in the UK. He might just be viewed as "over-the-top" and a bit too much for your refined British tastes.

Windyridge - Thanks, Windy! You and Karooch made this all happen! So I have you to thank!

Reasonable Robinson - Being on the receiving end of naming calling is never fun. I guess that's where the "Stick and stones" adage must be used to defend your piece of mind---and of course, your lunch money.

voodooKobra - your anecdotes that you recounted on StumbleUpon in reaction to this post are very telling. I hope you decide to blog about your many experiences with race relations in your town because they're too important to be held under your hat. Really very intriguing!

6FM - Thanks, 6fm, for being such a great supporter!!

Anonymous - Hey, Anon! I agree with your statement about open conversations on "taboo" topics. There are far too many topics that get swept under the rug. That's why I'm here--to shake things up! Pay attention to the Richter scale when I'm stage!

Anonymous - Did you post twice, Anon? (lol) Racism exists at several levels. The first level is the name calling and feeling comfortable using those derogatory words and racial epithets! The second is the dinner table conversation, where you feel comfortable using it in front of close friends and family at the dinner table. On par with that second level is "Oh I'm not racist because I have a friend who is [fill in your ethnicity here]." If you can penetrate the last level, the one I mention in the article where you accept everyone as a part of you, then you're good. You've achieved non-racist, or as I like to call it, humanity.

SimoneM - Thanks again, Simone. I'll be sure to check out the articles you sent me. I appreciate the comment and your support!

Robert House - First of all, I love your name. Already cool! --Totally, I guess I didn't even realize I was adopting the "turn the other cheek" approach. Does that make me the next Jesus? No, Terence Trent D'Arby already achieved that.

Alan - I think by using the term, you're giving it power. It's like constant re-gifting of fruitcake that occurs at Christmas. No one really wants it. So instead they keep passing it on. Someone has to be brave enough to just throw it out, despite all the energy and money and effort all the others put into it. It would be a lot easier if people just threw it out and start anew. It would put everyone else at ease not having to worry about the sketchy box under the tree.

Anonymous - Man, there sure are a bunch of you Anonymous' around here! I wholeheartedly disagree. See the response I gave to your Anonymous brethren above. I mention levels of racism. If you can avoid the word altogether, you're above it. Ask yourself this: Why do you need to use it? What is the importance "dropping the word in every other sentence"? Why do you feel the need to do so?

harleyblues said...

Hey I suppose it depends in the type of context it's used in?~ I dont use the word myself but in the Kings of Comedy it was histerical! think back you'll know what Im talkin about- I always wondered why it was too cool for black man to call each other the N word? ok sista I'll give yu a digg vote

Lucy said...

Anonymous - Lenny Bruce was a brave soul. I think he just liked to take the piss out of people, a lot like Andy Kaufman did. Thank you for contributing the excerpt. I'm sure it took a lot of time to either type out or cut and paste (lol). You've now inspired me to check out Lenny Bruce's albums. Thanks much! Come back again!

Anonymous - Man, you Anonymous people really gotta come up with more original names. (lol) So up first read of your response, I originally thought you were just an upstart. Then I went back to your original response on Digg and noticed you conveniently left out the last portion of your comment.

"I can't wait until the post where she tells me how I'm racist and how to get over it."

So now I realize, your response was just sarcasm and full of spite, and because of that, I choose to turn the other cheek and ignore you. Thanks again and Happy Thanksgiving!

Nee Ophou - You are exactly the person I'm referring to when I wrote this. Already you're empowering that word and the 500 years of oppression that people associate with it. Just by you're reaction in your comment, the word is controlling you--not the other way around. You're consumed by it. You're in so deep (to reference the hole you refer to) you can't see which way is up.

To address your black leaders reference: If you remember, from history, MLK, Jr. and Malcolm X didn't believe in the same method of overcoming racism. In fact, they didn't even get along. MLK, was a "turn the other cheek" kind of leader, while Malcolm X was about gaining political power to turn it all around. So knowing that, would you say, "[MLK] aims to provoke hatred amongst our own black race, which so hypocritical." Get your facts and your emotions in order first, then come back and argue.

Kris said...

I'll Quote you first: I think people give the word more power than it deserves."

Now I'm going to tell you that you are one of those people. You do it by referring to the word Nigger as 'the N-Word'

I mean really, every time you say 'The N-word' or hear 'the N-word' your mind automatically fills in the blank and in your head you THINK -Nigger-

Take a point from Rock, or Chappell and use the actual word if thats what your talking about. Saying 'N-word' just empowers it further. Think about it. said...

The Chris Rock 'niggers vs. black people' bit was written by a white guy (at least according to that guy - I think he is one of the creators of wonder showzen) - just a fun (maybe) fact

Lucy said...

Kris - I was actually thinking of using the word, "Digg'er" instead. (Whoo-hoo! Front Page, ya'll!)

I'll quote me first: Would it make a difference if I wrote/used "F-Word" instead, and wrote an entire post about that? No, I think not. The meaning would still be the same. - That's an AWESOME fact. Thank you! Really, thanks! I love nuggets of truth like that. But you do know now that I have to ask for some references and two forms of ID as well as a birth certificate to accept that information.

Balu said...

Heya. I'm from Germany and always wondered about all the single-letter-words in the US...

If anyone knows what the F-Word or the N-Word is, what's the matter with replacing it?

On the one hand you give it more power this way, on the other you weaken it.

If you want people to not call you Nigger, tell them. "Do not call me the N-word again." is just playing it down, isn't it?

F-word this stupid racism anyway :-)

BellaVida said...

I truly appreciate a post that actually dares to say something meaningful.

It’s nice to know that the majority of people don’t believe or act like the corporate owned media would have us all believe.

We should all know by now that corporate worlds goal is to make decisions for us. They would love to take our choices away.

In a culture that is over saturated with garbage television and phony reality shows, which are full of negative images and situations that degrade, humiliate and take all power away from the individual so does this word.

Only the ignorant continue to use it and if you don’t know that by now you fell for the con. Wake up and live a happy life, it’s way too short.


keymaker said...

A lot of people get obsessed. They can get obsessed with anything - even words. What are words anyway? Seems they are used to describe experiences with things, people or events. The key here is the word "experience". Words themselves are nothing. They are kindof like a thought. It doesn't affect anything outside of oneself. All experience occurs individually with each of us. So when we become obsessed w are only obsessed with our own experience. The compulsion comes with the revisits. I don't think anyone's experience of people, things and events are particularly unique. The obsession to revisit may be unique and contagious for the brainwashed an entertained!

Blog at

Kenny said...

I would love to comment on this post. I think it says a lot of things that would be completely misconstrued coming out of my Irish-descended ass. So I'll just shut up, and say: I thank you, for this.

AmyL said...

Bravo, Lucy. And thank you for writing the post. I'm subscribing to your feed, because I want to hear more.

Zaphod2016 said...

A few quick thoughts on "race relations":

1. One of my best friends is a polish-Haitian mix. We always have a good laugh when someone calls him "African-American", and then point to the map.

2. I myself am an Irish-German-Jewish mix. We came to the USA about 40 years after the Civil War. My family never owned a slave, but a few of us were slaves once upon a time. Point being: the "nigger-Irish" and "dirty Jews" are about as far away from slave-owners as white people can get.

3. I really find the entire concept of "race" to be absurd. What was the name of your great-great-great grandmother? What color was she? I'd wager 99% of people couldn't answer this question. Everyone I've ever met is a mix of something or other.

4. By the content of character, not the color of skin. Amen, MLK Jr.


A kike, nigger-irish, cracker who is not defined by his lack of a tan.

Alan said...

What a lively discussion this has become. I see your point when you compare it to the xmas fruitcake no one actually wants. And I will think about it some more.

Nee Ophou (unfazed, unstoppable) said...

yet once again from your response, you present your self as a lost, nomadic soul, you seem not to analyze and understnad before you react, instead you make knee jerk assumptions and replies, if you had read and comprehended my question to you, you wouldnt have went on to explain the obivous differences with martin luther king and malcolm x, i suggest u reread what i posted, so i wouldnt bother to repeat the question or clarify it for you, ultimately it seems the persons chris rock was referring to with the "N" word is you! your the "N" person, that black person who is ignorant and fighting against there own race, and iam disgusted by that, you should be empowering them to rise above the "N" word, not bash and ridicule them into submission by pointing out to them they are stupid! like i said before iam NOT OFFENDED BY THE "N" BUT I DO FEEL OFFENDED BY THIS POST! i hold no guilt in telling you how backward you are! in trying to belittle your own race, so my fellow black brethren you dont tell me i need to get my facts, cause martin luther's fight for freedom did not go in vain, cause evidently you are here posting a blog with out a whip over your back!, you must be blinded by racism against your own skin, not to see how revered mr kings teachings were to uplift the black african americans, its people like you who preach hatred amongst our race, instead of trying to uplift! you want us to bury our heads in sand, out of shame, my emotions are in order so is my facts, but i would anticipate your response to this would be more constructed, instead of headlessly thought of

Anonymous said...

Good I love you and want to have your babies.

You've hit the nail on the head and said what needs to be said. No matter who uses the N word, you are an idiot.

Oh, and the word only has power because people keep giving it power...just friggin' ignore it like people ignore cracker, gringo, kike, spic, etc...

aj said...

I disagree.

I think the word "nigger" should be said all the time. Just like "fuck", "shit", "cunt", "spic", "faggot", "dyke", and anything else we've got on reserve as a term of disdain for any one group, or a word just to irritate. Because words only have power if they are given power, just like you said. But you've also given "nigger" way too much power by treating like this great glass thing, it's the "n-word", it's something we shouldn't say.

As a comedian, or an aspiring one, I'm not sure which as I just sort of stumbled upon your blog entry and if I have the context completely wrong then I am sorry, but as a person who wants to get paid for their use of the language as a weapon on a room full of people SURELY you come across a thousand things which work similar to a word like 'nigger', maybe it's not a word, but a string of words which taken by themselves are inoffensive, but taken together can cause a riot. Topics which are taboo. Surely, the best way to cure the disease of certain words is to ridicule them, instead of whispering them and not saying them out of fear of offending someone?

Tom Cash said...

I believe that a word is a word, and the powers that be will never allow those lines of segregation go away. They need them, just as they need their ill-gotten money. These are scared, old, racist white men in positions of inscrutable power. I think it is within our power to change the world by a simple shift of our opinions of things like this. Let's completely change the world. From now on, a Nigger is a brand of butter crackers, similar to Ritz. Honky, Cracker, Whitey and White Devil are all brands of Saltines; and so on. Fuck it, let us, as one race (the only one there is, human) agree to change the meanings of these words, and stick to it until the oldheads die in a pile of their own diseased opulence, and then, the new meaning of the word will have become reality.

As far as my reaction to - and use of - the word "nigger"? I use it the way I use "motherfucker", to describe something or someone that really pisses me off. I don't use it as a racial slur, but I still use it in a hateful way, and that's really just as bad. That's what it comes down to: hate.

Hate is a product of fear, and fear is an initial reaction to growth and learning; the confrontation of one's fears is always harrowing. I think many people tend to get stuck on that fear, and turn it into hate, rather than charge head on into the fear and explore it, understand it.

A downside, I find, is that when you try not to hate others, you become aware that most hate is of the self. You see things you don't like about yourself in others, and it makes you hate them, but you're really hating on yourself. So getting rid of hate is a good thing for you AND everyone else.

I don't have an answer. The world is fucked right now, no doubt, but people are waking up. There's more of us than you'd think, and there are more joining us every day. We know that something is just around the corner, but we don't know what. I think it's the day that the critical mass shifts in our favor. The Generations X's and Y's (I hate those terms, by the way) are coming of age, we've got our hands in the market now. We're soon going be able to change the status quo, and as these skeletal old bastards in government the world over start to die out like flies during the winter, this will truly become a new world.

Will it be a good one? A bad one? I have no idea, but I don't think any of us have a choice anymore.

Robert Cassanello said...

I read your blog entry and thought it was great. I must admit that when I originally heard that from Chris Rock I dismissed it and thought it was problematic because he was reinforcing a racialized image of blacks, however the way you analyzed it in your piece you made me question my assumptions. So I am now thinking that maybe I am wrong about Chris Rock. I can't commit now to that idea however I will be thinking about it and what you wrote over the coming weeks.

What I think is the novel angle in your take on race in reference to the Chris Rock thing I mentioned is that there is this reductionist approach to race with Cosby on one end and Michel Eric Dyson on the other. The way you interpret Rock's definitions and descriptions of "niggas" I think is rather unique in that you are not influenced by either poles of the race debate. I think moving beyond dichotomies and binomials is really what is need. The race debate in this country is still too 20th century.

Here is the annotated version..;-)


William Hammet said...

"A colored is a very frightened-to-death Afro-American. A Negro is one that makes it in the system, and he wants to be white. A nigger, he's loud and boisterous, wants to be seen. Nobody likes a nigger. A black man has pride. He wants to build, he wants to make his race mean something. Wants to have a culture and art forms. And he's not prejudiced. I am a black American man. Now you go ahead and print it." - James Brown, 1982

Liz said...

...I say give it time and the word will change again. Words only have power because we assign them meaning. As people change, meaning changes -- thats the nature of language. The N-word is not an enterprise, a business or a company - it can't suffer losses. The only thing that kills language is a new language.

GoldenBoy said...

There is one aspect (at least) of racism you have not commented on; the power of the hater to turn the hated invisible. I want to believe change is going to come.

whatsername said...

This is thoughtful stuff. Thank you for linking me, Lucy.

shae-shae said...

As long as people refer to themselves as the N word, others will also refer to them as so. Having no reaction sounds good, but many of us know that when someone spews it out of hate, it's very hard not to react... that is something I'd have to work real hard at... that and of course trying to hide the weapon after the fact. ;o)

Ivor W. Hartmann said...

Hi Lucy Dee
Great blog and if I'm ever in NYC I'd certainly like to attend one of your shows. In answer to your question and in relation to this post:
Ok Post first. I live in South Africa, the last country in Africa to attain a majority freedom or universal franchise, everyone has the vote. Though I am actually from Zimbabwe originally and live in here in Economic Exile. In SA the N word is a K word and completely politically incorrect for all due to its derogatory meaning. And by all I do mean everyone, you will never hear it in music or any other medium. If it is ever spoken the meaning is clear and nasty in a bad way, and the speaker will be a firm racist. It has not, and I hope it never will be, been adopted into any alternative slang meaning or even a type of solidarity that might imply other things like the N word can and does today. Hopefully in time it will fade out of use and perhaps revert back to it's true original meaning of unbeliever. Then it could be said in reference to an atheist with no slight.

Your question: Yes I call myself an Economic Slave, wherever you might find my profile online etc. The reason is a simply reality check. In today's world for the average person; No work = no money = death or a really short somewhat unpleasant life. Therefore we are all economic slaves bound to our countries economy (and thereby the world's economy, no country stands entirely alone) from the moment we step out of school or university. In this we have no choice, not really, as the sixties hippies found out starving to death while trying to plant seeds in winter by the roadside (an image from a movie but I can't recall which one). But and this is a big butt, no-one seems to be comming up with any viable alternatives, including myself. So we are kinda stuck with it and it does work better than any other system we have had so far. One of the dangers however is, to quote L. E. Modesitt, JR. for "The Ethos Effect" a sci-fi book set in a distant future: "In a sense the economic system worked. What eventually brought the system down was the perception that, for all appearances, there was no ethical basis to the system, the feeling that ethics were relative to wealth, and that the wealthy had no ethics and bought their way out of being ethical"...

Jennifer said...

I applaud you because as a black female on the web without the support of many African Americans who have the same view point, I finally found my match. Like you, I do not approve of the N word and it does not define me. I have written countless entries on the word and I feel sometimes as if I wear a scarlet letter on my head because people randomly come up to me online asking me how do I feel about the N word. That is why I wrote a blog post too because after awhile you kind of get tired of the misinformation that is put out about the history of the word.

One thing though that I tell everyone is a personal experience I had in law school with a white student who wanted "permission" to call me the N word. She thought that it was appropriate to call me the N word because of what she had seen on In Living Color back in early 1990s. I was in law school from 1997-2000. So, when she said this to me, I was shocked. I had to give her a history lesson but she is still oblivious to the plight of African Americans living in America.

Great post and glad to see a sister in the comedic game who is on the ball! You have my support! =)

Barbara said...

You have really stirred up a lot of emotions and opinions here. I think your way of thinking about this is very insightful, although I recognize that it may be quite difficult for people to actually treat it as "water off of their backs" as you do.

I think you should write another post with your insightful practical suggestions that's entitled something like "Steps You Can Take To Depower the N-Word" or something like that.

I'm glad I found your blog. You are very talented.

Anonymous said...

Lucy, This was a great piece. I really like your style. I'm definitely subscribing to your blog.

Sugar said...

Very interesting post. You know. I still use the word from time to time in the privacy of my own home. Gosh, that made me laugh out loud just writing that. Like I'm talking about smoking a joint from time to time or something. Anyway, I see where you are trying to go, but I think you might feel a little differently about whether or not it matters if someone uses it if some old crust white woman/guy were to say to you, "Get out of my way you dirty nigger!" When I was in college, my friends and I were in the drive-thru at McDonald's one night and a car full of white boys drove by and called us niggers out of their windows. We were all so shocked, after we yelled and screamed back at them, we were silent in that car for about five minutes. All at a loss for words.

I don't let general use among Black folks bother me unless it's used around white folks. Hypocritical? Yes, but I can't help it. It's the Southern girl in me. lol