I get that black people don't want to hear that word coming out of white people's mouths. They perceive it as having bad intentions. But I think it goes a little overboard. What the comic said about being offended is not a good argument. I don't think that justifies anything. I can get offended about anything I want and use that to prevent you from taking some action. The question is about legitimacy and sensitivity.
I think people should judge the use of the word based on the intent. If I'm hanging out with a black friend of mine and he says "what up, jew-bro" and I say "what up, n," there's no malice. People who get offended by that need to put their own sensitivities in check, I say.
The thing is, I don't think that forcing non-racist non-black people to abandon their use of the word solves anything, because racist non-blacks will continue to use the word regardless, especially when it has become as taboo to use it as it is now. Having the "it's racist for you to say that word because you're white, but it's fine for me to say it because I'm black" mentality keeps the word alive and associated with that racial group, which makes it possible all over again for racists to use it as a pejorative.
i dont find the word or those who use it offensive... the popular connotation and history of the word is ignorant, obviously.
i refuse to agree with the suggestion that a series of sounds is implicitly bad, and so far i havent seen any cases of people dropping dead for uttering something. as far as i can tell, the only reason it's "bad" is because society has given people the power to impart guilt for saying it.
overall im tired of the lack of reasoning in our culture. :zzz:
when i hear it, the motivation seems to be in hatefulness... we know that someone's race is largely irrelevant, it's just a foothold some people use to express hatred. i embrace this more practical definition of the word. to me, a long red light when im already late is a nigger... i doubt someone (of any race) could piss me off so badly that i would express such hatred towards them. ironically, it seems that there is just as much hatefulness towards those who are perceived to be racist as most prominent proponents of racism.
id also like to point out that racism as discussed is a vast oversimplification of the matter.
everything is going to have some meaning to everyone, i would argue that it's simply impossible for anyone to be completely devoid of racial connotation. wearing your favorite color, listening to your favorite music, or eating your favorite food is no different than racial connotation in the sense that there is often little or no good reasoning for why you think of those things like you do. the difference is that those things are a personal choice while racism can potentially affect someone else in an unfair manner.
so, then, the problem is allowing baseless connotations to have jurisdiction to the point where it detriments others, not the existence of the connotation alone, ignorant as it may be.
why should it matter if someone calls someone else a nigger rather than any other insult? so what, the person isnt bright enough to know that their genetic similarities to the person they're singling out are much greater than the ~98% that exists between humans and monkeys and they'd be better off going to the zoo. now, if they shot the person, then there'd be a problem, but does it really matter if he shot the person because of race instead of general dislike? the racial motivation just as irrelevant as race... race is just one source among many for the myriad of reason-devoid connotations someone can have of another... the problem is acting on these in such a way that detriments others.
to conclude, "it doesn't matter how awesome icecream is, dont put a flaming cross on someone's lawn"
Last edited by Grayscale; 07-17-2008 at 05:29 PM.
Reason: why not
Whenever this topic arises, I always suggest the white person who invariably said it go to their nearest black people watering hole and just start saying "Hey niggers!" Commence with your questions. The key is you must say the offensive word to prove that you should be able to say it. If you don't say nigger, you won't experience the gamut of emotional ties and connections associated with the word. It's very important to this experiment that you experience the history associate with the word.
If you can stammer out any words between your bloody, swollen lips (or if you even care to ask at that point) and if the answer is satisfactory to your logic, please report the answer back to MBTIc.
If the answer isn't supportable by logic that you can cozy to, please repeat said experiment at another black person watering hole until you find a suitable and satisfying answer.
Notice I italicized you several times? Why did I do that? Because it's not about what you and your reaction to nigger. Why? Because nigger was never meant to be an offensive and derogatory towards you. You are not the intended target so you wouldn't know how it feels to have it's arrows pointed at you. So you trying to use your logic to justify why you should be able to say it it's like a fart-in-wind argument to me.
I've had this discussion several times with people in college. What's struck me as odd a handful of times was this weird joy-like expression that some white people had on their faces since they were able to use nigger in an intellectual context. It was like they just wanted to say it, really really wanted to say it, and were so happy they were able to say that word they were squirming in their seats. I'd always wonder about why they seemed happy to finally be able to say it, like they just sat their burning ass in a bucket of cold water. So of course that freaked me out a little and I've brainstormed about it with friends. I thought to myself, why do you even think you should be able to say nigger the way black people say it to one another? Why can't you just accept there are some things not for you? They are not meant for you and you need to be OK with that. It's the gall and presumptuousness of this attitude that bothers me. Why is it presumed that you should be able to say it? It seems like there's a lack of acknowledgment or a disregard of the inequity between the white person who thinks they should be able to say it and the black person they want to say it to. It like purposefully ignoring history and believing that it doesn't effect the present.
But it's the underlying attitude that some white people hold that they should be able to say it and if they can't say it no one else should be able to. Once it was culturally decided that nigger is a no-no, no one should utter the words. The word is so powerful that some people believe it shouldn't even be uttered. And if the word is that powerful and evocative, then it shouldn't be difficult to understand why black people don't react apathetically when an unknown white person (or even known) says it. I'm pretty sure people can google the power of language and words so I'm not even going to go into how black people using a derogatory word hurled against them is a transference of power.
Even black people are divided over who should say nigger (usually nigga when black people say it to each other). This discussion certainly won't be settled in this thread, but I hope it can be discussed reasonably and calmly. Personally, I've heard it all my life freely used between black people. My parents say it, I've said it, long with calling other black people colored and negro. So funny, I was watching TMZ a few weeks ago and Harvey got all mad because some black comic referred to another black person as colored. What's embedded in that thought (to me) is that Harvey was applying the dangerous all or none thought to the protoplasm of race in America.
If a black person allows a white person to say nigger to them in a casual way, you'd better appreciate it and act like you've just got your 17 virgins. It means that you aren't even white anymore, you're just you. If you care about this sort of thing, it's better than climbing Mt. Everest. The reason why I say this is because race is so thick and thorny in America, that successfully breaching the topic, navigating the minefield, and planting your flag in opposing territory is an amazing feeling. I'm not trying to look at this as a battle, but it often is. As much as people say race doesn't matter, it does. But we comfort ourselves by saying it doesn't because it's 2008 and being racist is so 1968 (only a scant 40 years ago!!), and we might be getting our first black president soon. Whatever gets you through the night.
In my entire life, there has only been one white person that I've just completely stopped seeing their race and it's no longer a barrier in our relationship. We talk about race freely, but more often than not we don't. We just talk. They are who they are and I am me and that's it. And she has NEVER referred to me as nigger as a sign of how close we are and nor do I believe she'd want to.
I have no opinion as to whether or not black people should or should not use the N word with each other. I'd never be able to use the word myself because of the way I was raised and the way I was taught to see the use of the word. (Although racist elders around me used it in private, but if any thing that put me even more off of it and yes I am going to admit there were and are racist people in my family or neighbors growing up, part of getting over any limit or problem is first to even admit it exists) For whites raised to believe it to be the worst word they can utter, well it is pretty hard to understand why a black person would want to use the word either. It is just a difference of perspective.
I do want to say, I think it is dumb and offensive when women call each other or themselves bitches as though it were a good thing. I have heard the same type of rationale used to defend this.
EDIT: To be sure, I am not meaning when a woman might admit: "I was a bitch about that and I am sorry" I am talking about when it is used to try and portray something postive. It sounds as ridiculous as a man saying "I am asshole SOB and damned proud of it!"