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The ‘N’ word…why it doesn’t matter anymore

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If you have read a post or two on this blog, you likely realize that I no longer live in the United States, though a born and bred citizen I am. Being in Europe offers a completely different perspective on race. One of the first things an American will notice is that in Europe, everyone must share the same space. There are very few alleys as the buildings share walls, and the countries, cultures and peoples are very close to each other physically. What this means is that Europeans tend to have a deeper understanding of cultural differences. Now this of course was passed along to their offspring in America, however with time this cultural tolerance has been lost on Americans for the most part. I wont go too deep into that one though.

Actually, I wont go into deep philosophical reasoning about why the word ‘nigger’ or nigga is no cause for alarm anymore. We can debate the sting of inequality, and history, and the river in Africa until kingdom come, and philosophy being what it is there will never be a right or wrong answer. What I want to talk about are the practical aspects of a word. Someone asked me recently if I would fight someone if they said something bad about my mother. The first thing I thought was ‘who is so childish as to call evil on my mother?’ my reaction was I would do nothing because there are countless people out there who don’t like her for one reason or another and I can’t fight them all. If a stranger says to me on the streets that my mother is this or that, what difference does it make as the person doesn’t know my mother. If they do know my mother or me, there has to be a reason for them saying that. Either they are already classed as a person who is not a friend, or they are a false friend. Frankly I don’t make it a habit to be around people who take to calling names like small children. Hey, iron sharpens the face of iron.

Now last weekend, as I was enjoying some good times with my baby boys, a group of belligerent, drinking loud-talking youths hovered around us. As a parent, of course I was apprehensive, even passively aggressive; had anyone said a single foul word within earshot of my boys…well, I’m glad it didn’t come to that. The thing is, I learned long ago to pick and choose my battles, and had someone said something that would not have been the time to fight. It just goes back to words. Everyday we are all insulted to some degree by someone, but ultimately words pale in comparison to the effect of actions. Words tend to have a short-lived effect, while actions tend to stick around a lot longer. The N-word is not a particularly action-filled word. I mean, everyone knows what a whore is, or a thug, or a killer…but a nigga? Sorry I understand the connotation, but I never quite understood what one does to qualify as one.

Of course one of the strongest reasons the word is impotent is because of its nature. We all know the origins of the word…slaves, masters, black and chained apart from white and free and all the connotations that went with it back then. However, in modern times poor black people (for the most part) use it as a term of endearment. Not that that makes it ok, but the truth is that it is no longer an insult. Yes, of course it is an insult if used with ill-intent either from a brother and especially a complete stranger. One thing about that is that like curse words, nigga is a word that is used out of frustration and reveals one to not be articulate. Straight up, its used by dummies who don’t know any better. Who is to decide when that word is used with ill-intent?

Another point is, whenever you get angry about something, you are spending energy. If someone says something to you, why give them your power? Obviously anyone who speaks is looking for a reaction. If the speech is nonsense, in the case of adults it should be ignored, and for children it should be explained. My point is, if a black person responds negatively (with either anger, or serious thought even) to the word, what is gained? The person who said it has gotten the satisfaction of lowering your self-esteem all for a few words? Perhaps you might even decide to get physical and make things worse. Self-esteem is well whose source should be in the heart and not from the mere words of strangers. If someone call me a nigga, well I am sure that someone else who doesn’t say the word may be thinking the same thing. So then the question is, how do I react to the one who speaks no evil? This brings me to the conclusion…

My last point is that people are trained by their parents, and school teachers, and uncles and aunties and have so many influences. What you see is never quite what you get. There is the thief breaking and entering, and then there is Bernie Madoff. People are always thinking one thing, and saying another thing. However, what they do is always who they are. Who of us has not had a close friend say something terrible about us in a moment of anger, or misunderstanding? Do you just drop the person and never talk to them ever again? If you dont, you were never friends to begin with, and if you do it’s because you can think of countless other times when their actions speak louder than the words they chose at that moment. The word nigga or nigger is in the minds of many people. On top of that, there may be people who are thinking and wishing evil on YOU at this very minute. Lets say there are three people who have ill-will toward you but only one speaks his evil, does that make him worse? Actually, it would make me feel better because while I can’t read minds, the mouth speaks what is in the heart for better or for worse.

Ultimately, who or what you are is not decided by anyone else. Words do in fact cause pain, but only when there is truth behind them. People are gonna think what they will, and they will say what they want. The idea is simply consider the source and the substance and if there is anything there, there is value…conversely, if there isn’t anything there leave it like it was when you found it.

Slaves from the 1800's

Written by lionoah

June 29, 2010 at 11:44