To Be or Not to Be…A Nigger

The word “nigger,” once full of hatred is now a term of endearment, a term used to incite anger, and conversation starter.  As we end the shortest month of the year given to the darker skinned people of the world, I feel compelled to share my views about niggers and niggas.

Nigger, derived from the word Negro, the spanish word for black,  has been used for over 400 years to describe Black people of African origin.  In 1619, John Rolfe used it to refer to the Africans being transported to America for use as slaves.  It was also used to describe both Africans and Asians brought to British colonies.  Today, it is commonly used as a racial slur and when pronounced “nigga”, as a familiar reference.  Heated debates about it’s usage rage everywhere from college campuses, coffee shops, barber and beauty shops and even with our first Black President.  I have mixed feelings about it’s use, but I have even stronger emotions about the use of the following three words to describe my people: Impoverished, Uneducated, and Defendant.

Impoverished:

In a 2001 article published in The Nation, an astounding statistic appeared: “Overall, the typical white family enjoys a net worth that is more than seven times that of its black counterpart.”  Although the article is almost ten years old, I seriously doubt things have changed much.  A black child is more likely to be born to parents with zero net worth than a White or even Latino child.  I work in a school where children have X-Boxes, Wiis, and Play-Stations and 99.9% of the students receive free or reduced lunch (my child comprises part of the 0.1% that does not).  I have experienced difficult financial situations due to divorce and the strain of raising a child alone, however, the difference between my situation and those of many of the families at my school and other poor communities is generational vs. situational poverty.  Many families use government assistance as a means of permanent financial income and may never understand what it means to provide for their families without the publics aid.  A “give me” mindset becomes ingrained in their minds and life without a “helping hand” is out of reach and may always be.  Before you call me impoverished, call me a nigger.

Uneducated:  Across the country, high school graduation rates for Black students hover around 50%, even lower in major cities (with higher minority populations).  Children leave the education system lacking the basic skills required to attain employment with an income above the poverty level.  I teach first grade and have students who read well below grade level, some unable to complete tasks that my four year old daughter can (granted, I am a teacher and her IQ is well above average).  Education is a means to rid ourselves of that first slur, impoverished, however, many parents do not view this as an immediate cure.  Education requires long-term commitment with results not being achieved until well after one’s 21st birthday.  By then, gangs and teenage pregnancy has claimed many of our youth – even worse, prison or death.  Schools of minority students with mostly white educators raise many questions in our youths minds – they don’t see the results.  They don’t see the end.  They don’t see where education can take them.  I try to instill the importance of school in my students every day, but I am only one woman.  I need help and unfortunately, I don’t get it from their homes.  Many parents don’t understand that they are their child’s first teacher…they don’t know how…their parents didn’t either…generational.  Call me a nigger, but please don’t call me uneducated.

Defendant:  My brother is in jail for armed robbery and drug possession.  My younger brother is still on probation for armed robbery.  They needed money for weed while my father was in the Philippines and my mother and I were in Las Vegas.  They were stupid, drunk, and high.  They knew better.  If they were white, they would have received probation.  Instead, without the assistance of a high paid attorney and white skin, they served sentences reserved for Blacks – the harshest the judge could sentence them to.  We grew up with both parents, we graduated high school, we weren’t rich but we weren’t dirt poor.  They are just as intelligent as I am, but because they are Niggers, they are automatically considered defendants.  Yes, they need to pay for their crimes, and deserved to be punished but society sees their situation as typical, almost a rite of passage for Black males.  White boys join fraternities.  Black boys get locked up.  Ask me what word I prefer, Nigger or Defendant…yep, you guessed it.  Nigger.

I know we’re trying to rid the world of one of the most hate-filled words ever uttered, but while we’re getting rid of words, let’s try these three first.  Say them with me: Impoverished, Uneducated, Defendant.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. speldva
    Feb 27, 2010 @ 04:28:01

    I love this. I really do. Give me a moment to get some intelligent response together….

    Reply

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  3. @pudgybuffman
    Feb 27, 2010 @ 19:20:49

    I think your views on the words that are so generously used among your race are really insightful and intelligent. Although i don’t agree with the ise of the word “nigger” i see your point in the argument of preffering it over these negative stereotypes. although i am not black myself i have beeen called a “nigger-lover” for my love of people of the black race……and i wouldnt have it any other way =)

    Reply

    • cindasmommy
      Feb 27, 2010 @ 19:33:15

      I disagree with any word uttered out of ignorance and hatred, however, one can not control another’s ignorance and hatred. A racial slur is not as harmful as the effects of lack of education, poverty, and incarceration. The effects of racial intolerance go way past the use of the word nigger and without eradicating the lingering effects of racism, separatism, Jim Crow, and the Lynch theory, we’re still in the same place. Getting everyone to stop using nigger would be a symbolic victory, while ridding the black community of those other three hateful words would be a true triumph. I appreciate your comment, Tony and thanks for reading. ~JAYKAY~

      Reply

      • Vanda
        Sep 16, 2011 @ 13:57:51

        I came across your blog randomly, I saw the article you wrote about the insightful comparison you made between Minaj and Queen Bee, I thought you were a journalist and I really liked it, then I spent hours reading through your posts and one thing I can say, you should really consider being a journalist (reporter, web-journalist…) I’m saying this cause you gave up teaching and you are seeking for a job you’d be passionate about. The way you share your life experience is ludicrous and touching

      • cindasmommy
        Sep 16, 2011 @ 16:18:24

        Wow! Thanks. I started writing this blog a year ago and have gotten positive responses about my writing but this was truly a compliment. Thank you again!

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