Why Can’t You Say Nigger if You’re White?

How have you gotten to the point of putting a single word on a pedestal as so offensive that you refuse to say it, even when you’re trying to talk about why it is offensive?

word the N word in white on black with red circle and hash line across the words, lapel button

Promoting separate and unequal rules about words and their usage serve to maintain barriers between you rather than to unite you with others.

It’s all right to say nigger if you’re a black person. It’s cause for the charge of committing a hate crime if you speak it while being white.

The public conversation about nigger as an unacceptable racial slur can’t begin until you have common sense and rational thinking in one hand, and a dictionary and a history book in the other, and a backbone to blow the whistle and call “Nonsense!” when and where nonsense exists.

Only when you can talk about it openly as part of on-going public education, and without fear, will you realize racial equality. The fact that nigger is used openly and often between some Blacks – in music, in literature, in daily conversation, is proof enough that a double standard exists regarding use of the word.

Separate and unequal only serves to pit one group of people against another.

The current excessive political correctness extends beyond the pejorative nigger to include ‘negro’ even when that is exactly the word you need to use. Using the word niggardly correctly to mean stingy can result in losing your job.

Cases in point:

Earlier this year, a white Washington elementary school principal was placed on leave for attempting to teach her students how the word nigger differs from the word Negro. The situation arose while the 10- and 11-year-old children were in an historical play specifically offered as appropriate curriculum for grades 3 – 6. The play was on segregation and Martin Luther King, Jr. The dialogue included the word Negro. In the 1960’s, Negro was considered the accepted and preferred term to use to describe a dark-skinned person. The children, confusing the word Negro with nigger and knowing to not use the pejorative term, were unsettled by its use. Many parents and other educators would rightfully call that ‘a teachable moment,’ not a racist incident.

Last year, a black high school teacher in New York was fired for teaching her Spanish language students that the Spanish word for the color black is negro. She made the mistake of using it when talking to a black student during a lesson on words for colors. (The Spanish word for a black person is Moreno.)

Excessive political correctness is not new. It was 15 years ago when David Howard, a white person, was working in Washington, DC, as an aide for then Mayor Anthony Williams. Howard used the word niggardly to describe a too-small budget. He tendered his resignation after a black colleague lodged a complaint on the grounds the word was derogatory. Since then there have been a dozen or more documented cases of Whites using the word niggardly correctly to mean stingy who have been criticized, ostracized or even demonized by Blacks claiming there is a racist motive behind its use.

News reporters speaking of incidents where the word nigger was used as a racial slur aren’t permitted to accurately and forthrightly report its use. They substitute ‘the n-word’. The whole point of the story is that nigger is an unacceptable term, and yet they can’t say it in the context of a news report for fear someone will feel ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘offended.’

Can you imagine going to your proctologist or gynecologist and saying ‘the p-word’ or ‘the v-word’ instead of penis or vagina?

If you want to be serious about confronting racism when and where it actually exists, then you need to challenge this excessive dedication to political correctness. Bowing down to ignorance and stupidity only serves to focus on the righteousness of victimhood. It also keeps Whites in a constant state of fear of somehow saying something that offends.

Victims and Apologists are not equal participants in society and neither role is worthy.

The question is, when will you be ready to have an honest conversation about words, their meanings, and when and how they should be used.

Life Is Honest, Open and True:  When it comes to the word nigger, a double standard still exists. Only when you can address the double standard and uses of the word can you begin to remove this barrier to racial equality.

What’s your thoughts on the use of the word nigger or its stand-in, the n-word? Tell me about it in the comments or tweet me @lifeishotblog with the hash tag #LifeIsHOT!

Related Posts: Words We Use

Be Careful With Those Words

Hear the Attitude in Your Words

When Words Hurt More than Broken Bones

 

3 Comments

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3 Responses to Why Can’t You Say Nigger if You’re White?

  1. Pingback: Never Let Words have Power Over You | LifeIsHOTblog

  2. D. A. Graham

    I believe that the firing of people for a “word” is wrong. Regardless of the word (especially in an educational setting). The question then should be “Why do people get fired for saying certain words?”
    People get fired for violating “policy”, “rules”, the “law”. Regardless of the fact that you agree with the policy, rule or law it is what you are judged by. There is a book called “Can They Do That?’ by Lewis Maltby that is full of anecdotes of people getting fired for saying and doing things they felt that they had the right to say or do, but the policy, rule, law said “No you can’t!”

  3. Your description of polite society’s reaction to “nigger” and related or similar-sounding words is accurate. Where I live, transgressing this boundary can get you shot. As for why, the word “separate” used above, in what I will take as your opening statement, explains most of it. Although Dr. M.L. King was an exception, U.S. black leaderships have generally favored a separatist mentality that centers on keeping alive historical resentments derived from slavery. And what better way to maintain a psychological divide between the races than to enforce new differential conventions on language use? Few blacks subscribe to Political Correctness. I think them more realistic for not doing so–the happy world of the monochrome rainbow is an unlikely prospect. Meantime, I assume that all persons sacked knew the possible consequences, which tends to limit my sympathy for them. Saying “niggardly” in a town with a black mayor just doesn’t seem too politically astute. And educators are briefed regarding what is properly said at school—assuming that’s really why they were fired. Nor is a small concession on N-words unreasonable. Students who need an etymology to read 1960 literature can be directed to the Oxford English Dictionary.

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