Friday, February 1, 2013

The "N" Word - A Commentary

(Merriam - Webster Online) 
Main Entry: nig·ger 
Pronunciation: \ˈni-gər\
Function: noun
Etymology: alteration of earlier neger, from Middle French negre, from Spanish or Portuguese negro, from negro black, from Latin niger

1: usually offensive; a black person
2: usually offensive;  a member of any dark-skinned race
3: a member of a socially disadvantaged class of persons

As early as the 1600's the word Nigger or variations of it can be found in various communications between New World Settlers and Explorers.  The word itself is derived from the Latin word Niger and merely means "Black".  The word was not considered derogatory until the advent of American Slavery.  Its usage by American Slave Owners as a negative term to describe African Slaves is what catapaulted it into the unfavorable connotation that it carries today.  The" N-word" as it is referred to today, now carries with it, a history that no other word in the English language shares.  The mere mention of it reveals a past of hatred, genocide, human slavery and  torture.  It is no longer a word that innocently describes a color, but a word used to negatively describe a race of people.

In an effort to take the sting from the word's 300 year evil past, African Americans in todays society, use a variation of it (Nigga) to refer to one another.  It is used amongst fellow Blacks as a term of endearment and brotherhood.  The phrase:  "Whats up my Niggas!?" when used amongst Blacks is merely a salutation used to greet people who are considered family, or friends.  However, once the word leaves the lips of a non Black person it again becomes a negative backed by a history of slavery. 

Should the N-Word ever be used by anyone?
We live in a day and age, where the word is considered to be a derogatory term in most circles. It could possibly take another couple hundred years, before the word can be restored back to its original meaning (black).  

As members of 21st century American society, our knowledge of the N-word only has the one meaning to most of us.  Whether it started out as a term used to describe a color or not, that is not what it means to the majority when uttered now. 

To My Brothers and Sisters of Color:   I think that we,  have more to define ourselves than just our beautiful skin tones.  Our skin is merely an indicator of the region where our ancestors come from.  It should be worn proudly and with honor, no matter what color it is.  It should not, however be the sole defintion of another human being.  Instead of referring to ourselves as "Niggas!"  Replace the word with Scholars! Soldiers! Brothers! Teachers!, Sisters!, Homegirls! Queens!, Kings!, Leaders!, Entrepreneurs!, Mothers!, Fathers! 
We ARE more.

To My Brothers and Sisters who are NOT of Color:  The word is NEVER appropriate for you to use.  No matter the context.

Happy Black History Month!

Thanks for reading

1 comment:

  1. "In the search for truth, we must willingly endure the ugliest lies." R. McKee no censorship of words. words take on different & multiple meanings that sometimes change. new words are added to the lexicon & 90% of communication is non verbal. people can weaponize the sweetest of words. check for energy. once you get the manineg you know lnoegr need the wrods.


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