Nigger_1I received the following email from a friend of mine regarding his son and the word nigger.  I think after reading the young man’s essay, you will agree with me, lesson learned.

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up my son from school and he had on a name tag that said "The Nigger Family."  When asking him why he has the tag on, he said "It was a joke that me and my friends at school came up with.  What’s the big deal? " I hit the roof……..after calming down, I tried to figure out how I would approach the situation…….After a long discussion with him, I assigned him an assignment to research and write and essay on the affects of the word NIGGER…..This is what he wrote….

On May 30, 2006, during school, I committed a crime at school. I bore a tag willingly, that my forefathers bore without choice. The tag was the name nigger. The word nigger, which still provokes the hatred of my people, a word that when spoken rekindles the rage, and sorrow of an age long gone. I did so out of partial ignorance of the pain that the word would cause, and out of the inability to see that not everyone thinks the way I do.

Nigger has many forms, whether it is calling someone a “taco nigger” or calling someone a “Nigra,” it all means the same thing. The word nigger is constantly called the ugliest word in the English language. However it is probably the most commonly used by the people it was once used against. I admit that on the daily bases I cannot count the number of times I use the word “Nigga.” However, the second a white person, Hispanic person, or Asian person says that horrible word, every black person in the vicinity is prepared to fight. At first I thought that this was pointless stupidity, however, I examined the circumstances, and realized that they have every right to fight. The pain and suffering that our people went through the lynching, the burning, the racism, the rapes, and the deaths are all destroyed by one simple word “NIGGER.”

Essentially, the biggest way that we as human beings were oppressed, was because of that one word. It was a term used by whites to say that blacks were not fully human, to say that blacks were not worthy of the title Homo sapiens, to say that we don’t deserve to live our human existence. That’s what that seemingly harmless six letter word was saying. To think that in wearing that label that a friend gave to me I destroyed all that was given to me by the generations that lived through that period. I can honestly say I had no idea of the damage I had done. Not only was I making myself look uneducated, but I was degrading my entire race, saying what had been done for me was not worth it. To think that a simple joke could mean so much  

I realized that my bearing such a name, was mocking that which people fought so hard to provide for me. What I thought was a joke turned out to be a direct insult to my people, and my family.  I now know why people still cry when they see the movie ROOTS, because in truth those are our roots. I say again to think that one word would cause so much pain and suffering, but to use it in ignorance, is even worse. To make it even worse, I used the word “Nigga”, which is nigger with a different suffix everyday unknowingly; I was degrading myself, my family, my ancestors, and all those around me.

The word “Nigger,” even makes the people that once used the word uncomfortable. If you were o talk to a white person, I am pretty sure that upon mentioning the “N” word, they themselves will become unsettled that is a testament to how disarming and horrible the word really is. I had always assumed that white people actually continued to bad mouth, and slander our race, but that is not the case. They do not glorify us, but they don’t walk around calling black people “Nigger,” though it can be hard to believe, it is true. I have conversed with whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians; they all avoid that word at all costs even if they are your closest friends. To think I would label myself something so horrible, that other members of different races outside of blacks and whites, no matter how close they are to you, will not say the word.

The dictionary definition defines it as 1. A derogatory term used for blacks, and 2. A liar, a cheater, or a thief. Which definition do you think it is most used as? But because of its multiple meanings, no one ever knows exactly what someone means when they say “Nigger,” though we all have a pretty good idea exactly what they mean. We as a people desperately try to fight the latter definition because some of our people have become just that liars, cheaters, and thieves. Not to slander my own people, but how can you escape the grasp of a harmful word, when some of your own, have become living examples of it. We escape it by continuing to preserver, continuing to strive for that greatness that was impossible for us to reach for so long. To continue to do that which we were told black people either could not do, or were not allowed. That is why when Sydney Potier, Halle Berry, Jaime Foxx, Denzil Washington, and Cuba Goodman won Oscars all black people cried, because we were doing what was then thought impossible for black people. When Gorge Washington Tarver made his hundred uses for the peanut, black people cried, because we were doing what was thought impossible.

Now we have our own style of dance, our own culture, our own lifestyle. All because we hate that word so much that we fight to show that we are no such thing. I see now my mistake in labeling myself with such a foul and disdainful word, which carries the hate of an entire nation on its back. We did not win the Revolutionary war just so that I could be able to call myself a “Nigger,” we won so that I could say that I am human. I am worthy of being me. My labeling is an exact contradiction to why I am here today, to why I am even allowed to do the things I do. That was not what was meant in what I saw as a harmless joke, but unfortunately that is the truth the came out of it. Now that I know the truth behind the word, and the affect of it, I will never turn it into a joke, or else all that had been done for me, has been for naught, but amusement.