The Na word

I hate hearing Black people say n****. I hate it every time. It always makes me recoil. It makes me feel alienated and sad.

I was watching a Dave Chappelle show on Netflix. He is really funny. Great comic. But he uses the N-word a lot. And get this — he uses it to talk about white people. Like this: You my <N-word>. I’ve been told, not by Chappelle, that it’s a term of endearment. To me, that’s ridiculous — it’s a threat. Because if I use that term of endearment, a 10-ton weight comes down on my head. I don’t like it. We’re also told this is a word African-Americans use among themselves, and we wouldn’t understand what it means. But many of the people in Chappelle’s audience are white. We’re his N-words. I’m watching it, and reminded every time I hear the world, and he says it a lot, that this is something I’m not allowed to like. The more I listen to him use the N-word, my inner voice, constantly yapping about nothing, repeats what he says, and I’m concerned that will eventually come out of my mouth, without thought because that actually happens in real life. It’s a painful word, not just for African-Americans.

Over my lifetime the word has grown and grown and grown. There seems to be nothing I can do but accept it, but how can I accept it?

I don’t understand why Black people want this to happen. It is inevitable that non-Black people will use it. Like, hello, DJ Khalid.

The Palestian DJ explained that he grew up using the word and doesn’t see how he isn’t entitled to use the racial epithet. He justified his use of the word in songs and everyday conversation, drawing a line between variations on the term but explaining how it could be used as a term of endearment. “For me to say ‘We the best, oo wee nigga, we the best!’ You know what I’m talking about. Niggas that’s thinking that is dumb fucks. Once again, I’d like to shout out the fans who love this music. What makes me mad, when I grew up, niggas was calling me sand nigga. That’s ignorant, because there’s only one way to say it. You can’t say, ‘Yo what up my sand nigga?’

2 thoughts on “The Na word

  1. I feel cringey hearing the n-word. As a child of California, society (teachers, preachers, news & tv) put out the message to not use epithets. But my family used epithets, from time to time, including the n-word. I knew it was wrong and didn’t like hearing it.

    Fast forward ten years to the ’90s, the rap and hip-hop explosion is well under way, and the n-word comes into prominent, public use -by people of color. They took that word back. They took ownership of the n-word. More power to them. I can’t grok what it means or feels from their pov, I didn’t have their experiences. I hear both positive and negative connotations in it.

    Use gives words their meaning. See also: false cognate

  2. I appreciate reclamation. I mean, I know it’s there, it’s in the picture. But saying gga so often is ugly and tragic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *