Being Called the N-Word: Is It the New Normal?

Being Called the N-Word: Is It the New Normal?

I have been a lot of places-- Germany, Korea, Iraq, Turkey, the Caribbean, and various parts of the United States -- and seen a lot of faces throughout my travels. I may have been thought of as a Nigger, but I was never called one, at least not to my face. Today, I was called one. But I can’t talk about the interesting person who made the comment, without first looking back at the history of the term.

Image Credit: neil conway via Flickr

 

According to Wikipedia, Nigger is a noun in the English language. The word originated as a neutral term referring to black people, as a variation of the Spanish and Portuguese noun Negro, a descendant of the Latin adjective Niger (“color black"). Often used slightingly, by the mid-20th century, particularly in the United States, its usage had become unambiguously pejorative, a common ethnic slur.

Urban Dictionary.com: “Niggers-race of dark haired, dark skin people who are all born of the same mother, but have different fathers. Example: Those niggers all look the same. A nigger is the reason why there’s crime in the world!”

This website specializes in referring to the President of the United States as a Nigger.

The word has most recently caught attention because of the movie Django. An article about the movie in the Hollywood Reporter states:

“In total, the dialogue is peppered with over 110 instances of the n-word, uttered by both racist whites and black characters. It is used as an insult, a proper noun, and as throwaway filler. Whether it’s a sign of how far the nation has come in its race relations, or an indication of how much progress is left to be made, the use of the word has stirred debate a full two weeks before the film even hits theaters.”

Some people take up issue with the word. In reference to the movie Django. Spike Lee said: “I have a definite problem with Quentin Tarantino’s excessive use of the n-word.” I saw the movie and didn’t feel the use was excessive; calling a slave a Nigger was the norm. I was more moved by the love story, the history, and the humor. Some in the Black community use the N-word with each other as a term of endearment... only with each other.

But the main reason I was moved to write about my personal experience is that I was called a Nigger by a Caucasian boy who appeared to be between seven and 10 years old. At first it was comical.

What prompted this child to refer to me this way? I was simply driving (well within the speed limit) through my racially diverse neighborhood. I sped up and then and quickly slowed down when I saw two young boys in the street playing.

“That’s a Nigger,” he said to his playmate. “That’s a fast driving Nigger!”

While my mind was focused on the errand I needed to do, I was quickly taken aback by what I heard, though I was not offended. Children only know what they see and hear.

Laws can change, but they can’t force people’s hearts to change. One hundred and fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, yet some mindsets did not change. That mindset appears to have been passed down to this child.

I refuse to be a victim of the word. It has lost its vigor. It is no longer pejorative. From a lyric in rap music to a term of endearment, it has no power over me. If they call me “Nigger”, that is just fine with me. It is the new norm.

Related Posts

Comments

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.