"Nigger!"

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If you say that to one of them to his face heíll slit your throat.

Her remonstrance is intact but Iím only sure the last three words were my mommaís. I couldnít have been older than five. We were sitting in the car outside a honky-tonk one night waiting for my father. The entire front of the joint was an ad for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer complete with the Gay 90s bartender they used back then (say, about 1959).

The object of her warning was a black man who passed on the street. I can only guess Iíd used the word Ďnigger.í

Since I canít recall a racist moment in my life I donít think I was getting ready to don a junior size white sheet. I was just using a word others had used around me. Just as the time I later innocently wrote shit or hell (I canít remember) on a blackboard, earning a reprimand from my father.

Which is more chilling really. I mightíve continued to use nigger with the absence of malice straight men use faggot among their own kind.

Sure, my momma couldíve tried to educate me about racism. But I doubt she thought anything about it. I donít know if she ever did. Protecting me from hurt was always her first impulse. Desegregation would come later. And I was sent to a distant school as a part of the quest for racial balance. I donít remember either of my parents bitching about bussing as it was called.

I was grateful for integration. It insured that no nutty, diseased ideas about black people slunk into any part of my mind. Integration hit the first my first year of junior high. Most of the teachers and students names have dropped off into oblivion. But I do remember my black friend, Larry Williams, who went to the public library with me every week.

My first math teacher in junior high was a black woman. Once when the class was making too much noise she told everybody to shut up, they werenít in church. It was a few decades before I figured that out.

High School was filled with bomb threats from the racists. Callow kid that I was my only feeling was being glad I could get out of prison, stand in the park across from the school and read instead of having to look at my teachers.

Momma did have some race fear. Sheíd make sure all of the car doors were locked when we drove through a black neighborhood. There were lots of those in Savannah. No matter where we lived we were always near a black neighborhood. When I moved to Atlanta I was surprised that most of the black people lived on Ďthe other sideí of town. There are two very confusing things about moving around Atlanta. Every variation of Peachtree has been used in naming streets. Another is the streets change name when they cross Ponce de Leon Avenue that bisects the city. I was told that long ago the white people wanted to make sure they didnít live on the same street as black folk.

When I was a little kid I we always had black maids. An easy thing when you could hire one for $20.00 a week. That ended when my momma came home to find one holding me over the gas stove with the flame off trying to put me to sleep. Sadly I donít remember any of them in detail. All I remember is that my father always drove them home when he got in from work.

Neither of my parents uttered a racist epithet that I can recall.

A kid in the nearby black neighborhood and I started palling around in my mid-teens. One day when he was over at my house my father came home. After he left my father sat me down for a talk. Did I want my sister marrying one, he asked.

His whole thrust was that if it happened sheíd be ostracized by her friends and family. He never said anything remotely racist. As much as I hated him I was still deeply disappointed and disgusted.

Eerily enough my black friendís father didnít want him hanging out with a white boy.

A few years later in Savannah I could help but smile at the young black with his white girlfriend walking through the park.

See also: Sexual racism

Comments

you know what bro i don’t know what it is but i am deeply offended with the language u are using to describe black folks. I am a 21y/o black male and as a black male i am tired of being sterotyped as to what u think is the “typical black male”. though u use words of hate toward me and my people. not a inch of my soul would allow me to hate another person because the color of there skin. We as “people” have come to far for racism to plauge the U.S. today. I honesty think if u would not be feeled with so muck hate, and give some blacks a chance u will then see that were people with feelings just like u. I can’t be mad at u for feeling the way u do , but i hope that one day u’ll find it in your heart to think of all people as “humans” because wheather u like it or not. WE ARE ALL FAMILY. I know i don’t know u but i will pray for you. Thanks for taking the time to read. God bless! if u would like to respond my email is torren00@yahoo.com later my brother

Well, for one thing black people couldn’t be too lazy being that black people built America while white people sat on there asses and shot guns and cracked whips. At this point we deserve to be a little lazy. if you walk a day in a black mans shoes you may understand (depending on your intelligence level). for a black man just doing normal every day activities that the average white man take for granted is a job in itself. Every race has there hard workers and there slackers. I’m a 28 Year old black man, I’ve never robed anyone, never was apart of a gang, have my own business, am intelligent and ask no man for a dam thing. This is the reason statistically places Japan and Korea are so far ahead of America education wise, because we are worrying more about a persons skin color than we are about our kids education.

I can’t imagine how I missed this entry, but it is one close to my heart, and seeing the comments (not being the first to make one) I am reinforced in my sadness that Americans are born racists—to be black here is meaningless, just another of the myriad ways the establishment fragments the people so that they don’t unite and pose a danger. The invented black consciousness that drives some black skinned people to feel spoken-to and offended at the same time by generalised stereotypes demonstrates a continued lack of perception in the humanity of American youth. It is equally silly for blacks to view whites as a race as for blacks to view blacks as a race—it all plays into the same impetus to oversimplify and categorize.

I dream of the day when every human being will be eradicated from the face of the earth, then we can dismiss ignorance. It is additionally bitterly funny to note that everyone blames the messenger for the message they perceive, without either reading the true meaning or engaging the author for further understanding. Americans might themselves be a race—a horridly ignorant and violent people born to the usage of corporate dominance and unable to break the bonds that appear to be their freedom.

But then again, there’s always TV to keep the people docile.

I recently had some friends from Czech Republic formerly Czechoslovakia for a visit. While they were here the wife said to me “There’s not too many niggers here and I thought the south had lots of them”. I explained to her that the word nigger was a bad word not something many people like to hear. She was astonished and said to me then why do black people use the word nigger in their music, their daily talk and in MTVs. She went on to say that doesn’t make sense and I replied exactly!! I tried to tell her that the black people who used the word nigger were problably just a bunch of jive ass niggers but she couldn’t grasp the understanding of “jive ass niggers”.

Actually, I don’t think that any of you have ever heard a black person say the word “nigger” when referring to another black person. What you probably heard was the word “nigga.” Leaving aside the question, for now, of whether even that word is “appropriate,” I’ll tell you that the two words do not mean the same thing in (for want of a better term) “black English.” Believe me. The one is merely a derogatory, hateful term of disrespect. The other can have a variety of meanings, ranging from affection to scornful derision, depending on context and intonation. And even it should never be used by people who do not truly know what they are saying and/or are not cultural “insiders.”

Which brings me to a question…why is it that many members of the dominant culture here in the U.S. seem to think that because a group uses a term among themselves, that they can also use the term with impunity, with no understanding of the cultural concepts underlying said usage? In college I had a Japanese friend who regularly referred to himself and his Japanese friends as “buddha-heads.” I have a Jewish friend who often uses the term “yid” when referring to her Jewish acquaintances. And I now live in a part of the country where many whites refer to certain others as “white-trash.” I am of primarily African-American descent and there is no way in hell that I think that there is anything that gives me the right to use these terms, either in general public conversation OR with these individuals.

I think the real problem is that people have lost their sense of humour when it comes to race relations. My grandfather is Irish and he really does drink alot. My grandmother on the other side is “Native American” I mean Indian dammit, and she smokes weed and talks to the spirits. I have a Latino friend who eats refried beans and talks like Speedy Gonzolas. I think most americans are mutts like me and their are fewer and fewer members of a “pure race” whatever the hell that means. Get over it. I’m not saying forget the past just dont use it as a crutch to most easily get through the present.

Points well taken, Amanda. However, I’m curious as to why, when a member of a perceived minority (and I don’t just mean racial or ethnic) takes umbrage at an insult, is it using “it as a crutch?”

Screw the past. I’m not concerned about being called nigger in the past. I’m concerned about it i the here and now! Believe me, there are some things that will make you lose that sense of humor that you think so lacking in our society. Me? I think the basic problem is lack of civility. I render to just about everyone I meet a certain basic civility of behavior. I expect the same in return. Period.

Blaming the “victim” (and, believe me, I’m using that word VERY loosely. Victimization is NOT the issue here) is a cop-out to bad manners in my estimation. I mean, it’s like the cluelessness of some men I’ve met who seem truly bewildered and amazed when they ask, “…why do bitches and ‘hos get so upset when you call ‘em bitches and ‘hos?”

Bad manners, bad form, bad for a healthy society.

I never guessed this entry would attract so many disgusting people. In the future racist comments will be deleted.

my comment is that i am a 17yearold black female and it does hurt really bad when someone calls me a nigger i find that it is very rude and for black people to say it to eachother is not right it just means that they have no respect for themselfs and others and it is ignorant and hateful so fuck you charles curbo and to all the black people out there have respect for youeself and others and you will go far in lfe and gee no i agree black people are not lazy thank you gee

Hello to all the people saying all that racist stuff:

would you say it to MY face? bet you wouldnt because i would take your heads off. all racists are cowards. they (KKK) always operate in groups, are interbred, and most of them have ethinic ancestors anyway. even in england the neo nazi style politcal party the BNP dont know it there name says it all (BNP, Black “N” Proud)

And also, to the redneck who said all black people are lazy, well, answer this:

My black self, have completed a JAA ATPL to become an airline pilot, Fly for an airline on international routes, earn more money per year than youll earn in your lifetime, put my house at risk to pay for all this (£75,000+) does this sound lazy?

sounds like to me, youre the idiot. so go away and screw your family members like you all do in the KKK.

so get a life, and learn to love. regards, Positive Climb Gear Up. England, UK.

You fuckin racist peice of shit. I’m mixed with black! I stumbled across your little article to see what yo punk ass was about.

You wanna know why the white girls flock to the black man cuzz,THE DICK is always bigger on the BLACKER side! And oh yeah this poor little black kid has a computer (sarcasm)

BITCH!

Some of the above will read oddly because of the racist comments that I’ve deleted.

Let me make it clear: there is no point in posting racist hate speech. The moment I see it I will delete it.

No one will see it but me and I will stop reading the moment I realize that your only purpose is to propagate your perverted nonsense.

This blog goes out to mikey…i say FUCK YOU..why do i say fuck you…well first you explain to me…that the words NIGGER and NIGGA are two different words, first off, although im white, i grew up in an urban area on nj and i hung out in the “PROJECTS” so i know the difference, and when i hung out with my friends, black, spanish,white, etc. i would often greet them by saying WHATS UP MAH NIGGA or sometimes whatz up nicca….WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU or any black person to tell another race they cant use a term..i mean i would never call a black person the racist word Nigger, unless i had a confrontation with him and wanted a fight..but even then it would just be used like that on a case by case basis the same way the first insult out of someones mouth to me would be “YOU FAT MUTHA FUCKER” because im a bigger guy..but Brother, being black isnt like being in a mickey mouse club where you get a codebook of words only you can use….I SAY THIS, if you dont want “WHITEY/CRACKA/HONKEY” using your words, dont put them in every other line of YO RAP MUSIC! or, in my case dont be friends with any white people and use your lingo around them to the point where they feel comfortable using it as well…in fact..go start a race war cuz you sound like a BLACK KLANSMEN, the only thing i hate more then an ignorant redneck is a racist black man..cuz unless your 110 years old and an ex slave, you have no reason to bitch about chains that were never around your heels…get over it…my ancestors were cheyenne american indians who were handed blankets with small pox on them to kill them off, at least they let your ancestors live to see another day, most of the time..Reply expected and anticipated.

to wtwhferock i am stunned that someone who supposedly hung out with black people would use such language. I am spanish and balck but because i look more black than spanish i have been forced to be identified as a black woman. You may have lived in the projects but you could always get out, my brother. You aren’t held captive by the glass ceiling. So do not make it seem as if you are on my side because at the end of the day you cannot fight my battle. So stop acting like you are so down. And for the record if you got in a fight with me and called me a Nigger just to get into a little confrontation i hope you can bring it sweetie. Also just so there is no confusing and you thinking that i am racist or something my husband of 12 years is white. You have a nice day. and to Richard you should have known better than to post something about race baby the battle will never end. signed a black and spanish woman with a PH.D. in Biology. thanx

casper_geanette@yahoo.com if anyone has anything to say

I dont really know why you people are jumping all over this mans ass. I have read his entire post and have found nothing racist about it. It sounded to me like a bunch of paranoid people would like to make it into something it is not. I’m full blooded cherokee indian, so dont start that slave boat shit with me. It seems to me like if someone called me a drunk lotto playing pascifist ingun (or whatever the hell you can think of) I really would’nt take any offence to it. I have never played lotto and cant stand the taste of liquer. So why would that offend me. I feel thaty steriotypes are made for a reason. Not out of slander, Maybe steriotypes are made by the VICTIMS of prejudice and not the biggot? think about that for a minute.

My maternal grandfather was Cherokee, his wife was half. I never met him, from what little my mom said he was a violent drunk who didn’t care that he’d sired her.

Neither my grandmother nor my mother (both of whose skin reflected that) ever express any interest in that part of their heritage. So I’ve never felt any connection to it.

Thank you.

WHILE READING THE POSTED ARTICLE ABOVE, I TOOK A WALK IN THE AUTHOR’S SHOES, IMAGINING WHAT HIS LIFE GROWING UP MUST HAVE BEEN LIKE. FIRST, I WANT TO SAY THAT THE AUTHOR WAS NOT RACIST, HE WAS ONLY PARTICIPATING IN WHAT HE THOUGHT WAS RIGHT AT THE TIME. HE, LIKE MOST KIDS, WAS JUST DOING WHAT HIS PARENTS HAD BEEN TEACHING/ SHOWING HIM. YOUNG CHILDREN LOOK UP TO ALMOST ANYONE OLDER THAN THEY ARE. I COULD NEVER HATE ANYONE, I COULD NEVER THINK OF PEOPLE WHO LACK SOME INFO. AS STUPID, BUT I CAN TRY TO HELP THOSE WHO LACK SUCH IMPORTANT INFO. LIKE THIS. I HAVE USED THE WORD “NIGGA” TO ALL TYPES OF PEOPLE. I USED THE WORD BECAUSE I WAS TAUGHT (BY MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER AN EXSLAVE) THAT IT MEANT “IGNORANT BEHAVIOR/PEOPLE.” NOW I WONDER IF I LACK THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION. TO WTWHFEROCK COMMENT ABOVE, I HONESTLY THINK U NEED TO BE SCHOOLED. I SAY THIS BECAUSE IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE TO USE THE WORD “NIGGER” TO A BLACK PERSON YOU HAVE BEEF WITH BECAUSE YOU IN SOME ODD WAY FEEL ITS THE SAME AS SAYING “YOU FAT MUTHA F*!” YOU WOULD USE THE WORD BECAUSE HE’S BLACK (AND THERE WAS PROBABLY SOMEONE IN YOUR LIFE THAT SAID TO YOU IF IT’S BLACK THEN IT’S A “NIGGER”) NEVER KNOWING THE TRUE MEANING TO THE WORD. IF YOUR BLACK FRIENDS ARE COMFORTABLE WITH YOU USING THE WORD AMONGST EACH OTHER THAT’S YALLS BUSINESS, BUT JUST BECAUSE YOU USED IT WITH THEM DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN STEP TO ANY BLACK PERSON AND SAY IT WITHOUT THEM BITING YOUR A, OK. ONE MORE THING TO YOU, JUST BECAUSE U LIVED IN THE PROJECTS DOESN’T MEAN YOU UNDERSTAND OR TRUELY LIVED IT LIKE A BLACK PERSON DID OR DOES TODAY!! TO GEE, I WAS FEELING YOUR COMMENT! JENTTEAL, SCHOOL ME, HOW WERE YOU FORCED TO BE IDENTIFIED AS A BLACK WOMAN? DID SOMEONE HOLD A GUN TO YOUR HEAD? I BELIEVE THAT WAS A CHOICE. I BELIEVE I AM WRONG FOR USING THE WORD LIKE I HAVE IN THE PAST, BECAUSE IN A NUTSHELL I FELT LIKE I WAS BEING RACIST AGAINST MY OWN RACE. I AM NOT A RACIST AND I WILL NEVER BECOME ONE. I LOVE ALL PEOPLE! LIKE I TELL PEOPLE WHO ARE AND AREN’T RACIST, THE SHIT IS PLAYED OUT, SO WHY YA’LL STILL HANGING ON TO IT!!

IF ANYONE WANTS TO COMMENT ON WHAT I HAVE POSTED ABOVE THEN HIT ME UP AT Notyme4_U@YAHOO.COM. THANK YOU AND BYE!

[Racist comment deleted.]

Some of the shit I’m seeing here is so fucked up. “Nigger” and “Nigga” are NOT DIFFERENT WORDS!!! “nigga” is merely a different way of saying “nigger”. It is the same word, just spelled in a way to make it sound more cool. The world (well, the US and other Western countries) are so fucked up on their own filth that it is considered cool by the youth to be a gangster, to fuck one, to know one, to rob, steal, litter, vandalise, use foul language etc..etc… We’re all fucked. The white Americans hundreds of years ago treated the blacks badly, but today the blacks are being given a more than fair chance to improve and educate themselves, yet only a tiny percentage of them take that chance. Most of them are running amok and ruining the world for those of us who’d like to get ahead in life. And it’s considered cool and ok because their great grandparents were treated unfairly. If America wants the black people of today to get ahead and become equal with the whites, they need to stop allowing things like gangter rap to promote the evil way of life, and put pressure on those who make it (ie: MTV etc) to start focussing on promoting music that will empower its people, and encourage youth to study or work. Not steal and do drugs. Being a pimp or a dealer isn’t cool, it fucking sucks. I’ve done it. You’ll never get ahead, someone is always out to get you, the police are your enemies when they should be your friends and trying to protect you, if you have a family htey’ll never be safe or proud. Come on black people, drop the tough negative act and get your shit together! I did. It’s so much better being a decent human being than being scum.

maybe what i tell you is not new. Black people took a lot of the sting out of the N word by using it often in rap music and literature. I think gay ppl can do the same with “faggot”. They have done a good job already with Queer. When Richard and I were kids Queer was a horrible insult. Now gay ppl have made it a word of praise. So get to work all you faggots. Love.

We are ALL GODS CHILDREN!!! I thank the smart people who posted, and pray to the other fools referring to “Who has a bigger dick” and whos lazy.

P.S. I have been a nurse for 9 years and about 90+% of men have the same size penis BLACK OR WHITE!!!! so move out of your mother’s house and learn a thing or to

Seems none of you realize that spitting these words at eachother and bringing up conflict after conflict is nothing more than creating more conflict itself. If this is ever to end, this,HER AND NOW, needs to end.

Hey Richard, Why is it that you say you will remove ALL racist comments, but you only delete the comments left by White people, but not all the racist things written by blacks? Seems to me that YOU are more racist than any of the morons that have posted here. I posted this months ago and you deleted it, so I guess that you know Im right. What are you afraid of Richard? You have made a crystal clear demonstration of the SPECIAL, not equal rights that are afforded to some people in this country. Truly disgusting.

I know this response is quite late, but I had to respond to the comments made by WtWhFeROCK. First, FUCK YOU White boy, you or any other white person do not have the right to call me nigger or nigga, don’t take it upon yourself to think that you can. I dare you to go out of your comfort zone and use those words to someone black and see if you don’t get you ass kicked. Never do I use deragatory slang to describe anyone and I don’t care to hear it from other people. I’m black and gay, and I don’t take no shit from straight people either, just let one of them call me a fag or a sissy. I have seen a many of straight black men get their ass kick good by so called sissies. Don’t under estimate and feel that you can say whatever and get away with it, because it ain’t going to happen. And to Casper I don’t know if you are white or black, but where do you get your information? A small percentage? In what country are you referring? I and almost all my black friends and family are educated and gainfully employed and I don’t mean McDonald’s. We don’t live in the projects, don’t sell drugs, live in nice neighborhoods, travel, and speak standard english, not Ebonics (although I can and do at times). So get your info straight, yeah there are many blacks that are ghetto as some would say, but there are some ghetto don’t give a fuck white folks too.

Richard

Although I happened across your writing while googling Savannah, I must admit I enjoyed reading it. I believe that you did not write this with hatred in heart as many people who use the word “Nigger” do but you used it to reminisce on the way you were raised. I think that you should be commended to have been raised in racism and to have not let it bias how you percieve others. As a black woman, I would be offended if someone called me by that word without question but your piece is not generally or specifically calling anyone that. For you it is history. It happened. You can not change that. Peace be unto you.

Your feelings?

Please share your feelings about "Nigger!".
Thanks,
Richard

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