Danny Cardwell's picture

    The N-Word is a Linguistic Construct Rooted in Hatred

    I used language in this post that I wouldn't use in the pulpit or over the radio. I don't believe in euphemisms, and I respect Dagblog too much to sugarcoat the reality of our shared situation. Everything isn't a debate. I'm not interested in being right I'm more concerned with thoughtful dialogue.  http://thyblackman.com/2017/06/11/the-n-word-is-a-linguistic-construct-rooted-in-hatred/



    Thanks Danny. The response to the N-word is interesting. No matter how bad the circumstances, whites could always be comforted by, "At least I'm not an n- word". Some blacks argue that they took the word "back", and that only blacks can use the word. But responses are efforts to ignore that fact that groups of people don't matter. It is an attempt to gain power from powerlessness. Whites fall into opoid addiction and suicide. Blacks adjust to being second class citizens.

    There is a scene in "Fences" where the black son aks his father if the father even likes him. The father replies, "I don't have to like you". James Earl Jones who played the father onstage notes this is an important message for black men to hear. Do not expect to be liked. Expect society to do everything in its power to reject you. Expect cops to get off when unarmed black men are murdered by police. Expect to be shot if you use your Constitutional right to bear arms. If you are pulled over and have a legal gun in your possession, expect to be shot even if you tell the officer that you are armed. Expect the jury to believe that a person ready to shoot a police officer would give up the element of surprise by informing the officer that a legal weapon is in the car. Expect the jury to believe that after giving away the element of surprise, you would reach for your weapon while in the passenger seat and shoot the officer despite your girlfriend being in the way because she is in the driver's seat. Expect the jury to find the officer not guilty. Welcome to N-world

    Bill Maher recently used the N-word as a joke. HBO found the joke "inexcusable". Maher is still employed by HBO. Last Friday, Michael Eric Dyson, Symone Sanders, and Ice Cube appeared on "Real Time" to "school" Maher. Nothing happened. Dyson did hip-hop education that went over Maher's head. Ice Cube got closer to why Maher was out of line, but Ice Cube holds on to an illusion. Ice Cube argues that blacks took the N-word from whites. "Took" means that you stole the word by undercover means. "Took", in the sense, means that blacks do not own the word. If you take something, there was a confrontation. There has been direct confrontation. Lebron James'property had the slur painted on the walls. Because there was no conflict, nothing was "taken back". Ice Cube pretend that blacks have power they do not possess.


    Blacks claim that they have co-opted the n-word for their exclusive use sets them up for an endless fight that will eventually fail. When black rappers use the word, very often, and sell records to a white audience that sings along with the songs young people will feel comfortable using the word. Of course those young people, many who are teens, have no idea of the history of the use of the word. Blacks will be forced to educate the young year after year about this history and expend an incredible amount of effort in that education. I don't see it getting easier. I don't see us getting to the point where everyone just accepts that blacks can use the word but whites can't. I see the effort to stop whites from using the word getting harder and harder as the oppressive use of the word sinks farther into the depths of time and the modern usage becomes the how the word is colloquially understood.

    There was no massive movement by white people that wanted to prevent black people from calling themselves the n-word. Larry Wilmore embarrassed himself when he called President Obama, "My n- word." Wilmore said what every white supremacist wanted to hear.


    Of course there was no massive movement by white people that wanted to prevent black people from calling themselves the n-word. I've never read anyone who claimed there was. I certainly didn't claim that in my comment. That comment was far out in left field. What discussion point are you trying to avoid by posting such ridiculous shit as that?

    Ice Cube said that blacks took the n-word away from whites

    I pointed out that there was no event that occurred where blacks stole the word or fought a battle to take the word from any groups of whites 

    I pointed out that the mythical taking the word back did not prevent the slur from being painted on Lebron James' property

    The point I made is that arguing that the n-word is now for blacks only is ridiculous 

    You posted that Blacks cannot keep the n-word to themselves because.......Rap

    We have no disagreement 

    I posted again that there was never  a battle where blacks took control of the n- word

    I pointed out that Larry Wilmore embarrassed himself using the word in front of President Obama

    You respond with profanity 

    Edit to add:

    the part of my original post regarding Ice Cube

    Ice Cube argues that blacks took the N-word from whites. "Took" means that you stole the word by undercover means. "Took", in that sense, means that blacks do not own the word. If you take something, there was a confrontation. There has been direct confrontation. Lebron James' property had the slur painted on the walls. Because there was no conflict, nothing was "taken back". Ice Cube pretends that blacks have power they do not possess.

    You posted, " There was no massive movement by white people that wanted to prevent black people from calling themselves the n-word." A ridiculous assertion that goes beyond the obvious. Now you want to post some more crap rather than take responsibility for that ridiculous statement. Look, if you don't want to address my post don't comment. But these stupid non sequiturs are a waste of time.

    Get some rest O-K, Ok?

    When I watched Fences I was reminded of all the James Baldwin I read in my teens and twenties. Those words still resonate today!

    "Working-class whites are feeling the consequences of economic policies crafted by the investment class. I don’t gain any pleasure from their misery. Unemployment in the black community is still two to three times that of their white counterparts. White suffering didn’t replace black and brown suffering it just joined it."  Thanks Danny. 

    Thank you Hal!

    I know it feels wonderful to blame everything on the concerted efforts of the investment class, but there's quite a bit that happens just because as well. The world is going to change whether the IMF does something or not. And blaming them for absolutely everything can presume they know the right thing to do, when we can all be searching for workable new models.

    blaming them for absolutely everything can presume they know the right thing to do, when we can all be searching for workable new models.

    Wisest thing I've seen anyone say on this website since I started participating again!

    Makes me think that perhaps the only silver lining on the whole Trump nightmare is that people will finally realize that billionaires are not only just people who have had good luck, but can actually also be stupid clueless idiots?

    (At the very least, can we finally throw away the whole Bilderberg runs the world thing? It was held in a Marriott in Fairfax, VA this year., a Marriott! I believe that only secrets the uber wealthy share anymore, if they ever shared any since 1932, is the names of consultants that can help avoid taxes.Seems lately the few investment class peeps that even bother to pretend to know "the right thing to do", like Elon Musk, are getting in trouble with others of their class. Here's the new thing one sees often enough: caring about solving the same problems,  and it's not because of the goodness of their hearts but because they think they can profit from solving it, worldwide. I.E. everyone in the world with a smartphone and knows how to use it, kids writing the apps in their mom's basement--or hovel  in India. NOW WHAT DO WE DO?)


    The problem with the billionaire class and the shocking rise of inequality isn't that every individual billionaire is malefic or did terrible things or inherited from somebody who did terrible things.  The problem is that the economic interests of the the billionaire class usually (not always) conflict with those of poor, working, and middle-class folks.  When those conflicts are resolved, the former, despite being vastly outnumbered by the latter, almost always win.

    Only African-Americans are allowed to use "nigger" ironically, as they are the objects of the slur. Maher thinking that he is entitled to use the word that way was very bad. But I'm not sure the word should have become unmentionable and unprintable--but I'm white, so I admit that what I think doesn't really count.

    Words disappear over the course of time. "Faggot" would rise eyebrows if used today. The N-word deserves no nostalgia. Powerless people respond to despair. Some turn to opioids and suicide. Others pretend that they "took back" the meaning of a racial slur.

    The late Michael Jackson recorded a song, "They Don't Care About Us". that included the words "kike me". News outlets released the lyrics the day before the album containing the song was releasing. Despite arguing that the message of the song was against prejudice.albums were removed from shelves. The lyrics were re-written. That was power.


    Bill Maher is still employed.

    Words disappear because of societal pressure. But "nigger" is being redefined and popularized by blacks and sold to young whites. Until that changes the word will never disappear. In the end pop culture will win out over political pressure. A decade or few from now the word will be more commonly used than it ever was.

    Future generations of blacks will be embarrassed by the word. It will leave the same bitter taste as minstrel shows.

    Minstrel shows were overwhelmingly whites in black face making racist jokes for whites to laugh at. Rap is blacks selling to white people. Unless the rather small effort by some blacks to stop other blacks from using the word grows and succeeds I think my prediction is on firmer ground than yours.

    You are free to your opinion. Rap sales are going down. Rap used to represent marginalized communities. Rap has become the new minstrel show. Beyoncé's "Lemonade" was a best seller. The album was all about Black Power and and police brutality.

    Minstrel show




    Rap is degrading and losing out to better messages.

    Black viewers are watching shows like "Black-ish", "Underground", and "Queen Sugar". The shows present images of pride and battling for family and friends. In 2018, the "Black Panther" movie will hit screens. Rap has to compete with more positive images, a losing battle.

    You may think that all blacks use "nigger" on a daily basis. Where I live, using the word is a good way to get kicked off the premises. 

    Edit to add:

    Black teen drug use is less than that of white teens


    Black teen pregnancy rate is down by 50%


    For some reason the wiki link doesn't work

    Here is a link to a Guardian article


    Everything you posted is irrelevant to the discussion of the use of the n-word. It doesn't matter whether or not black people call each other nigger in the privacy of their homes. It wouldn't even matter if the majority of black people didn't listen to rap. It doesn't matter that blacks watch tv shows that are more uplifting than rap. What matters is that significant numbers of young white people are  buying and singing along to rap lyrics that use the word regularly. Rap is over 10% of music sales.

    Of course you can find an article that has a black person criticizing rap. I already noted there is a small group of blacks are pushing back against the use of the word in rap. But it doesn't seem to be succeeding as rap is becoming more mainstream. Yes there are many non rap black musicians that sell as much or more than rappers. There are probably more non rap black musicians than black rappers. What does that matter? Sure Beyonce sells a lot more albums but rappers are still selling millions of albums. Again what matters in this discussion is that there are significant numbers of young whites buying and singing along with rap music. They are becoming quite comfortable singing nigger this and nigger that.

    Explain exactly how black teen drug use being less than white teen drug use has any effect on the use of the n-word? How does the decrease in black teen pregnancies effect the use of the word? Hey, it's great when teen drug use and pregnancies are down but you're posting irrelevant bullshit for what? I can only guess you're spinning out of some distorted idea that you're protecting the black community.

    Rap is calling people niggers at a time when young blacks are viewing more uplifting shows. Rap talks about how much dope has been consumed. Black teens are rejecting the drug experience. Rap is not longer connecting to the lived experience of black youth. White youth are buying rap albums and using the n- word. When they encounter black teens who do not consider themselves niggers, conflict may arise. No one is holding a gun to the heads of white youth forcing them to call a black person a nigger. The use of the word is a personal decision. Whites have always been free to call blacks niggers. It is the white privilege thing. Given that no one is holding a gun to their white heads, using the word nigger is free will, as it has always been. Blacks cannot stop whites from using the word nigger. Some whites, when confronted, will blame blacks. The person using the word nigger is expressing free speech. The white person using the word can expect to be judged accordingly. Blaming a rapper for a word that comes out of your mouth is truly a bullshit excuse.

    The point is that black rappers are implicitly encouraging young whites to use the word in it's modernized meaning with the songs they sell. Blacks watching inspiring and uplifting tv shows doesn't change that fact. Some white kid singing along to those rap songs isn't checking the tv ratings among black people to decide what music to buy or sing along to. Many of those white kids might never or rarely chat with a black kid. They're just hanging out with their white friends and greeting each other with a, "Yo nigga, how ya doing bro?" Because rap music taught them it's cool and after singing the songs dozens of times it feels comfortable.

    It's probably considered cool to memorize some songs and chant them among their friends. Just as I memorized Carlin's "seven words you can't say on tv" to recite for my friends when I was in jr high.

    Yet somehow you think the word is going to disappear in the face of pop culture familiarization. That's a delusional belief.

    Kids are not stupid. They know which words are appropriate. If they burst out with nigger in public, it is because they are pushing the limits. You are correct that the world will stick with whites longer than it will with blacks. I have to admit that outside of television or movies, I can't recall the last time the word nigger was used in my presence. We must have vastly different experiences. The word nigger is really not a pressing problem for me.


    It's not a pressing issue for me either. I didn't bring it up and quickly dropped out of my initial dialog with you when you refused to address anything I posted and just posted bullshit. I thought the conversation was over until you decided to make the ridiculous claim that the word would just disappear. If you hadn't decided to post on the issue again I wouldn't be discussing it with you now. But you know, all of us discuss everything here, from the most pressing issues to the most trivial.

    Nigger will disappear. You argue that it will remain forever. My argument is stronger. You then argue the classic white privilege position. Rappers are forcing sponge-brained white kids who may never see a black person to use the word nigger with their white friends. Rappers, not the television networks, film industry, recording studios, radio stations, etc., are responsible. I get the vapors over those poor innocent white teens.

    When you can't make good arguments you make shitty ones. I never said rappers were forcing ect. That's just your bullshit lie since you can't defend your position. In fact everything in your comment is a lie, I never said any of it. I'm not going to take the time to point out all your lies. Lying is an obfuscation tactic to divert the dialog away from arguments you can't win.

    I could not fucking care less who says nigger or if no one ever says it again. That's a battle for black people if they want to fight it. I simply look at pop culture influences and draw conclusions. Go ahead and convince young whites that they can only sing along to the music they bought in the privacy of their home. Blame them if they break your "for black use only rule." Those who want to fight the use of the word will have no more success against pop culture than evangelicals who wanted to fight the acceptance of gays and lesbians did when tv shows with gay characters were so popular.

    You want to claim that because black teen drug use and pregnancies are down it means young whites will stop saying nigger. Then you claim you have the better argument. It's laughable.

    "Blame them when they break your for black use only rule". That is your statement. Where did I make that argument? I criticized Ice Cube for suggesting that blacks owned the meaning of nigger. I criticized Larry Wilmore. Your reading comprehension is poor.

    Nigger will disappear. You argue that it will remain forever.

    Both of these are clearly wrong for the near future. Beyond that you cannot predict culture change. Right now the meaning and usage is in a period of change.

    Actually, too frequent use, rather than discouraging use, would be more likely to make it disappear, as it would lose the put-down punch it is known for in hip-hop and lose it's cool, and it would fall from the vernacular. Especially since most of the older English-speaking population is still loathe to use it.

    P.,S Schwarze with the right inflection and usage in Yiddish and German used to be a similar derogative almost as nasty. That faded away with the generation that used it. It has reverted to just the innocent word for the color black now in German and Yiddish is dying.

    Whites using the term may speed its demise.

    you'll get no argument there, especially if it's the kind of people (of all colors) that are still fans of hip hop in NYC, pretty unhip folks in general....you know, I live in the Bronx, the birthplace. Where now it seems to be conspicuously popular to look and act like Obama, preppy is the thing, and not just the clothes, including the talk.

    Oh that was just one more of the lies rmrd told to avoid dealing with my arguments. I specifically said for the next "decade or few" the use by the young would increase as the original use of the word drifted into history and the modern meaning was all the young knew. To stop that blacks would have to educate young rap fans year after year about the history of oppression associated with the word. Rather than deal with that argument he just claimed I said it will remain forever. Typical dickish move from him.

    Words disappear because of societal pressure. But "nigger" is being redefined and popularized by blacks and sold to young whites. Until that changes the word will never disappear. In the end pop culture will win out over political pressure. A decade or few from now the word will be more commonly used than it ever was.


    Edit to add:

    I argue the pushback is here

    I stand by everything I wrote in this thread. You've addressed none of it. Most people here understand caveats and nuance. You apparently lack the mental capacity to do so.

    Myself, I'd be behind you and rmrd 100% in preaching to black hip-hop artists who make money off selling that word (along with other offensive words like "hos" and "bitches") to all races around the world, to stop using that word. I would be 100% behind you preaching to the buyers around the world that they should not buy hip hop music with such lyrics..

    But I feel I need to support ocean-kat's arguments here, fighting the good fight of nuance all alone. Along these lines: there's an incredibly strong argument you lost this fight long ago! Because: people making this argument like you are not considered cool, but black hip hop artists are considered cool. Worldwide. They won the money game on this, an Afro-American genre and its language, including the word, is now one of the most popular in the world. For more than a decade, probably two decades or more. You don't just have to change white American kids' minds, you've got to change the minds of kids in Japan and African and Holland and Africa itself. They all think that the word was ok IN THIS CONTEXT, the same context that Afro-American artists use it:

    see wikipedia for Nigga:


    In practice, its use and meaning are heavily dependent on context.[1] Presently, the word nigga is used more liberally among younger members of all races and ethnicities in the United States.[2] In addition to African Americans, other ethnic groups have adopted the term as part of their vernacular.[3][4]

    There is conflicting popular opinion on whether there is any meaningful difference between nigga and nigger as a spoken term.[5] Many people consider the terms to be equally pejorative, and the use of nigga both in and outside black communities remains controversial.[6] H. Lewis Smith, author of Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Affair with the N-word, believes that "replacing the 'er' with an 'a' changes nothing other than the pronunciation"[7] and the African American Registry notes, "Brother (Brotha) and Sister (Sistah or Sista) are terms of endearment. Nigger was and still is a word of disrespect."[8] The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a civil rights group, condemns use of both nigga and nigger.[5]

    Some African-Americans only consider nigga offensive when used by people of other races,[5] its use outside a defined social group being an unwelcome cultural appropriation. Used by blacks, the term may indicate "solidarity or affection",[9] similar to the usage of the words dude, homeboy, and bro. Others consider "nigga" non-offensive except when directed from a non-African-American towards an African-American. Yet others have derided this as hypocritical and harmful, enabling white racists to use the word and confusing the issue over nigger.[3]

    Non-rhotic English-speakers, such as speakers of many British dialects and African American Vernacular English, pronounce "nigger" and "nigga" identically and do not distinguish between the two words.

    Language and culture are living, constantly changing thing, words come and go in acceptance, meanings change, etc. And being a crowd-sourced encyclopedia, I'd be willing to say that Wikipedia is more accurate on where the language is at on any word than more old-timey "official" sources.

    And yes, I do think that most using get it that it's rooted in hatred. That's the point: they use it in art that is expressing anger or hatred or the feeling of wanting to put somebody down.

    By saying: stop using it, you are saying: this art you make and use is offensive, stop doing it. Good luck with that, Sometimes it works when people want to censor art. But it's incredibly late in the scheme of things to try to do that now, it's popular and been for a long time:

    Again, from wikipedia:

    Cultural influence

    The term "nigga, please", first used in the 1970s by comics such as Paul Mooney as "a funny punctuation in jokes about Blacks,"[10] is now heard routinely in comedy routines by African Americans. The growing use of the term is often attributed to its ubiquity in modern American hip hop music.[11][12] Examples include:

    One of the earliest uses of the term in a popular song was the 1983 song New York New York by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, although it had featured in some very early hip hop recordings such as Scoopy Rap and Family Rap, both from 1979. Ol' Dirty Bastard uses the term 76 times in his Nigga Please album (not including repetitions in choruses).[12]

    Comedian Chris Rock's routine "Niggas vs. Black People" distinguishes a nigga, which he defined as a "low-expectation-having motherfucker", from a "black person". In contrast, Tupac Shakur distinguished between nigger and nigga: "Niggers was the ones on the rope, hanging off the thing; niggas is the ones with gold ropes, hanging out at clubs."[13] Tupac, who has been credited with legitimizing the term, said his song N.I.G.G.A. stood for "Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished."[14]

    There's some awfully complex linguistic that have developed here. Yeah, sure rooted in hatred, "the kids" get that, that's how they use it: rooted in hatred but in the process of changing its meaning.  I really doubt they are going to listen to older folks preaching that they should stop using the word in all its various usages and meanings at this late date.

    Oh and how popular is the N.A.A.C.P. with the young people these days? Speaking of the changing meaning of words. "Colored People."  Ever notice how young folks instantly read someone who calls a person a "colored" as an old fart racist?

    P.S. Dagblog member Orion is conspicuously absent from commentary on this thread, even though he has some recent blog entries, so he can't have missed it. I know he happens to be a big fan of hip-hop for many years, I recall he has blogged on it a lot on his own site for years. Also pretty sure he's not Afro-American. I am guessing he figures: what's the use, bunch of old folks all het up about water long over the dam, they don't get it.

    More blacks will realize that they have no control over the word. Nigger will start to fade. Bill Maher is still employed.

    An interesting perspective. The article argues that 80% of rap music is purchased by suburban white males. The recording studios promote the thug life over social commentary.


    The 80% figure is a myth, I've read that debunked in many places This page is a good one ,25 Good Hip Hop Demographics, feb. 2015, from a marketing blog has a ton of hip-hip demographics, including international, but here's the one you seem to care about:

    Black listeners comprise 46% of the hip-hop radio audience, Hispanics make up 25% and the remaining percentage is bi-racial, white or Asian.

    He mentions the 80% myth, I've read more detailed variations elsewhere, they all blame the one Newsweeek article as the source:

    For a long time, there has been this myth that 80% of the hip hop market is white. This all dates back to a Newsweek article that spoke about how it was white folks who were listening to gangsta rap and that’s why sales in this industry were so high. Although people above the age of 40 do tend to purchase the most music, people who are in the hip hop demographic tend to exclusively purchase music in their genre. This is why there can be over 20 million records sold of just one particular album. When something new and hot comes out, everyone wants to get on board and enjoy what is fresh. Don’t fall for the idea that it’s white folks who are listening to hip hop. Hip hop is everywhere.



    Ok, seems have beat this topic into the ground, shutting down.

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