Observations of an Invisible Woman

Inflammatory Language




When you speak, do you use the word Nigger? How? In greeting? In jest? In regular conversation? And…since rappers say it ALL THE TIME, whites want to know why they can’t say it.

From the Latin word, “Niger” it meant, literally, black. How “nigger” came to be the epithet that it became…no one really knows. There are speculations that it was used as a nickname of the original word Nigrum/Negra/Noir and then used as an insult circa 1920-1930’s as the word we all know today.

Never has a word in the English language sparked such raw emotions and lead to heated debates, passionate violence, the Civil Rights Movement and affection towards the black family.

Listen to this:

Now this:

Knowing the origin of the word why do some blacks refer to themselves as niggers? Do you feel that it’s politically correct to use the phrase “the N word” to sugarcoat the vileness of the actual written word? Why is this word so important to AmeriKlan and thusly the world? And why does it spark rage, violence and brotherhood? If the power was removed from the word, do you think it would still have the same effect?

And, what is the difference between nigga and nigger? Don’t they basically mean the same thing? Moreover, who exactly would you consider a “nigger”?

Any thoughts?

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30 thoughts on “Inflammatory Language

  1. Pingback: Inflammatory Language | Innerstanding Isness

  2. SomeGuy on said:

    Anytime I feel the urge to actually use that term, I replace it with the word “Negro”. I think a lot of people tend to do that. However, White people love using that word around me though. Apparently, they think I won’t mind, me being one of those “High Yella” Negroes, and all. They get mad when I react by throwing around a Cracker or a Honkey or two. They can dish it, but they sure as heck can’t take it!

  3. I write “N-Word” but as per reference; I personally don’t use the word at all. It’s one of those habits of our race that is much older than we usually give credit. J.A. Rogers (1880 – 1966) wrote on how African people use the “N-Word” against one another. It’s not a Hip-Hop phenomenon like many of us are led to believe.

    I neglect to write on the topic, but I recall speaking with a young girl, about sixteen-years of age. When I pressed her for her ethnic background, she suggested “Oreo.” It was a reminder to the insults I heard hurled around while in High School. It was important because it showed how generationally consistent African people’s conditioning is. For the insult “Oreo” is more a statement of pride in race for being more affixed to Black culture despite its degeneracy. Of course it’s an ignorant pride. Nevertheless, the use of the “N-Word” appears to be a continuation of that phenomenon: “An ignorant pride in a despicable ideal of Blackness.” So to say, the use of the “N-word” is another way of saying “I’m not White.” It’s a degree of subtle, unwitting self-hatred, but not the same self-hatred as the “I’m not Black” crowd.

    A deep analysis would likely reveal that the use of the “N-word” stems from the idea that African people have never been more than slaves and an acceptance of the idea that one can never be more than a slave. The solution thereupon would be to show the users of said word that Africans have been the originators of most of the world’s civilizations and were worshiped and well-regarded the world over; and an acceptance of the idea that we can originate many more world civilizations and be worshiped and well-regarded the world over. It appears that Richard Pryor above hints at this idea.


  4. Black people who disagree with me are niggers. Simple as.

  5. Matari on said:

    I don’t use/like “nigger.” My parents didn’t use it, but some extended family members (cousins and whatnot) did. Before I was 10, I recognized the self-hate mentality wrapped up in the word. I hated that we hate ourselves/one another …

    I cringe when I hear some latinos/hispanics saying to each other, “my nigger…my nigger..” It’s bad enough that some still blacks use it. It’s even more annoying listening to others say the word.

  6. Matari on said:

    *… some blacks still …*

  7. wop (a me)
    without passport lol
    (not really, i have dual citizenship hehe)

  8. mary burrell on said:

    It is a disgusting word. I think it’s stupid when the indivduals try to explain if it’s niggas that is a term of endearment. I even heard Don Cheadle try to explain this foolishness. I was very disappointed in him. Sadly this ugly word will not go away. The book nigger The strange career of a troublesome word by Randall Kennedy is a good read for our people to educate and enlighten.

  9. mary burrell on said:

    I agree with Matari, I heard some hispanic youth on the commuter train from work baptizing each other in this disgusting word. I even worked a woman would was telling the story of how her mother used to tell stories about their upbringing in the south. How her great great grandfather some colonel used to say nigra because he could not pronounce the word negro. smh.

  10. mary burrell on said:

    *I even worked with a woman* forgive the typos.

  11. Tyrone on said:


    Black people love to give words double-meaning, which is the source of the problem. Blackwomen call each other the b-word in the same way that blackmen call each other the n-word…Ebonics! By simply switching out an e for an a, the word has taken on a life of it’s own. As others have stated, whites and other non-blacks use the word more than we do, especially spanish men. Keeping it 100, cracker and chico don’t have the same effect as “nigga” in urban culture. The fact that others try to co-opt the word gives some black folk a sense of pride, but, it’s self-defeating. If we degrade ourselves, Why would whites and others see us differently? At some point, we have to see ourselves as africans in totality. Our mothers give us african names that actually mean something, which is the first step. As long as blackwomen give their offspring european names, we’re still enslaved to whiteness. Naive blacks use the n-word as a substitute for negro, black, colored, african, etc. I love myself and my race, therefore, i don’t see myself as second to none. I refuse to refer to black people as minorities, we’re african. Minor means less than, tighten up sistas and brothas?


  12. mary burrell on said:

    One last comment, I heard some white guy on television can’t remember what program it was on. But his comment was “nigger is not just for black people,” “Anybody can be a nigger.” This gave me pause. He went on to say that the definition of a nigger was someone who was lazy and ignorant and someone who did’nt want to be positive influence in society. This was still not satisfactory to me. I still say this was just some white guy who wanted to say the the nigger under the guise of being slick. So no that does’nt get a pass in my book either.

  13. SomeGuy on said:

    Mary, I absolutely loathe when certain people, especially Whites, try to convince people that “nigger”, a term literally originating from the word for BLACK, somehow means a “lazy or ignorant person”. These bigots have so many tricks up their sleeve, I wonder how they ever have time to live their own lives, because they are so busy worrying about Black folks.

    In my opinion, many Whites (not all) fall into two categories: ones that are completely apathetic to Black people and ones that are completely obsessed with Black people.

  14. mary burrell on said:

    @SomeGuy, I agree with that comment. That is very true.

  15. @ Everyone

    Great comments.

  16. This video basically summarizes my view on this word.

  17. moorbey on said:

    Great post and some awesome commentz. I don’t use the word nor do i deal with people that do 4 it is self-hating. I 4 one am proud to be Black and proud of our blacktastic history.Panther Love

  18. Ms. J

    I LOVE Neely Fuller!

  19. Ron Thomas on said:

    Ahhhhh, I see you chose to act like a clown once more.

    Why do your actions and speech make me think you are some sad little white boy like so many others I have seen on the net? You enjoy masquerading as Black in places such as this, just to be able to sow their pathetic brand of discord in the discussion, and derail it.

    Does anyone REALLY believe this jacka$$ is one of us?

  20. He seems extremely Mis-Educated. Technically, as cross-racial education is a form of mis-education, bets are that he is African as we are the people who are most cross-racially educated. His example serves to show just how destitute and low some of us can succumb due to the lack of independent institutions to raise our race and our standard of protocol. He seems to understand what not to say and in turn says it. He convinced himself that its comedic. But he does not understand why not to say. Unfortunately, without independent institutions, many of us do not know why not to say. He does us a favor by showing us how behind we are on raising ourselves. Not due him, but as per my schedule I’m designing a post on “Responsibility.” It is “Responsibility” which neither he nor many of us understand.

    It’s not surprising that the Ancients would immortalize the following phrase:

    Man must learn to increase his sense of responsibility and of the fact that everything he does will have its consequences.

    I am in the process of expanding upon this truth. One could only hope that the comedian sees it in himself to learn this Ancient proverb by heart. Then he ought teach it. Each one, teach one.


  21. Me too! The Code has helped me to understand and talk about race way better than I did before.

  22. I would like to thank the both of you for proving my point.

  23. @ Satan

    Did you check your email? I left you a message.

  24. introvertedwanderer on said:

    @Tyrone said
    “Black people love to give words double-meaning, which is the source of the problem. Blackwomen call each other the b-word in the same way that blackmen call each other the n-word…Ebonics!”

    I think that this is the crux of the issue as well, and it’s funny, because I said almost exactly this to my sister in a conversation about use of the N word, recently. More than other groups, I think that black people are more prone to taking something negative, like the N word, and switching it up, trying to make it into something positive. I’m not usually around people who use the N word, but whenever I go onto forums in which racially based topics are brought up, I read comments in which black people will refer to each other as Negro, Nigga, Nucca, Knee-grow, etc, etc, etc. Like really, this is the way in which some black people refer to other people, and I find it to be utterly disgusting. It’s the kind of language that pathologizes people, and I don’t agree with it. I don’t know of any other group that takes dehumanizing language like this and uses it against each other. It’s getting to the point now that when a black person complains about being called the N word they’ll be lucky if they are even taken seriously anymore, and they have other black people to thank for that. I still think that white people would use the word regardless of what black people have tried to do with the word, but black people are really only adding fuel to the fire when they also use the word, because regardless of the intent, it sends out an unclear, contradictory message about how we feel about the word.

  25. leigh204 on said:

    Hi all. The first time I heard the n-word was the time when I watched the tv mini-series “Roots”. I asked my mom what it meant and she said it was a very bad word used to demean black people. She told me that I should never say this word…ever. She also said I shouldn’t use any word that degrades black folks/other POC because it’s just wrong. Whenever I hear others say the n-word, it makes me bristle. A couple of times, I’ve been told to mind my own business because I’ve tried to correct people using the n-word saying it’s racist. I can understand with reclaiming this word, but I don’t know. It’s just not right. I hope I don’t offend anyone here with my opinion.

  26. @ Leigh

    No offense taken. All coloureds have been marginalized.

  27. One of the Brothers on the streets called me an n-word. He was saying how he wanted to give me a different email than the one he gave me, probably a more frequented one. But I was asking why? So he said “this n-word.”

    I asked him why he was using the word that lynched our ancestors.

    He said that it was the past.

    So I told him that I can explain how we are still enslaved.

    He uttered disbelief. But after I pointed out that the thirteenth amendment allows for slavery in prisons, ergo the Prison-Industrial-Complex, and after I explained to him that a person dependent on another to survive, as we are, is enslaved, he said “Alright Brother.”

  28. @ Onitaset:

    LOL! Sorry dude.

    Don’t be too mad at the brother, he thinks all is well. I overheard 2 senior men greeting each other at the market, “Sup Nigger.”

    I looked at them both, decided to get my cantalopue and leave.

    You did a great thing with your 13th amendment explanation.

  29. Pingback: Who Invented the “Nigger”? by James Baldwin | Black Write & Read

  30. I just want his principles applied

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