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By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, M.Ed.

We should have hung all you niggers while we had the chance and trust me it would make the world better.” Disturbing right? This is what was sent to a Black girl who attends The Woodlands High School from one of her peers on social media. I am sure you are familiar with the term “nigger,” but just in case, the dictionary defines it as, “a contemptuous term used to refer to a black person.” It further states, “a contemptuous term used to refer to a person of any racial or ethnic origin regarded as contemptible, inferior, and ignorant.” This six letter word holds so much history, so much negativity, and can trigger any argument or fight if mentioned.

This word, if mentioned, in an instant brings up so much pain, hostility, tension, and anger. The quote previously stated by that student is highly offensive and hurts. It is sad to know that this is the mindset of some people of whom we brush shoulders with each and every day. It is also sickening to know that a person’s skin color is still judged before a person’s heart or character. However, I do have a question for you. Why do we as a black race get offended by this word, but we call each other a “nigga” all the time. Even other ethnicities such as the Mexican race has adopted this word and it has become a part of their daily vernacular as well.

From my understanding, we (as a Black race) have taken this derogatory term and have given it a more positive meaning. I hear the word all the time in the hallways at the school I teach, at the mall, or simply, in some music that I hear. Speaking of music, millions of dollars are being made with rap songs using the term, and many different ethnic groups are listening to these lyrics, which can give off the wrong impression of this word. No matter how much we as a race have transformed this word to take on a new connotation, I am sorry to say that it is still the same word. The ending in the spelling of the word is different, but the meaning is still the same. No matter how the word has been changed, the history, and the pain behind this it has not and will never change.

In respect to our past, in respect to our ancestors, we owe it to them to try to demolish the usage of this word period. Keeping it as a part of our vocabulary has already set a bad precedent as if it is okay for anyone to use this word. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and members of the Civil Rights movement marched, went to jail, were stoned, beaten, and hosed down by police for equality and respect. They did not want to be called a nigger, and they did not want to be treated like animals, or demeaned by their oppressor. They just wanted to be treated like the human beings they were. I wonder if they were alive today, what would they have to say about our “progress” as a Black race.

In my opinion, we can’t keep getting upset with other races when this term is used against us, when we still are referring to one another as a “nigga.” I hope you understand what I’m saying. I am not giving people an excuse to use the term. I am simply explaining that if we’re still upset about the usage of the word nigger, then why keep it around?

Think about this. Metaphorically speaking, if you skin a cat, at the end of the day, it is still a cat. All you did was change the appearance of the cat, but its original form and state is still the same no matter how much you try and change the cat. The same thing works for this word. All we (as a Black race) was skin the ending off the word for a new ending. However, the original form of the word and the sate of its being is still the same. Still not convinced? I have personally witnessed Black people get upset from White people calling them a nigger and from calling them a nigga as well. What’s the difference? You are what you answer to. Sorry though, I’m not your nigga.