It is not unusual, in this day in time, to hear Black people calling themselves and other Blacks, the ‘N’ word. Some of us have become so accustomed to using this foul word, that we seem to have forgotten what it really means as opposed to what we want it to mean.
No matter how you spell it. No matter how you pronounce it. It is still the same word with the same meaning it was given hundreds of years ago.
For those who are not aware, the ‘N’ word was created by Europeans (Whites) who enslaved Africans (Blacks), during slavery. It was a word used to degrade and ultimately define Black people as being ignorant and inferior. To be called a ‘N’ word meant that you were the most disgusting thing on planet Earth. Actually, less than a dog.
It’s no secret that at one point in time, the US Constitution valued a Black person’s life less than that of a whole human being. Three fifths of a person, to be exact. The Three Fifths Compromise… Compromise!? Don’t get me started. I will save this rant for a separate piece. Stay tuned.
We call ourselves the ‘N’ word today and expect others, particularly those outside of our race, to respect us. You ever check out the facial expression of a white person in earshot of a black person referring to themselves or their friends as “N’ words? Utter disbelief and disgust. Can you blame them?
I can’t, and I won’t. The blame is on us. I say us because I have fallen victim to this exact same ignorance. I sometimes will use the ‘N’ word when I write. But, I will spell it NI99A. I guess the 9s make me feel less ignorant. Go figure. When I used to rap, I would use it when I recorded in and out of the booth. I would say it with the ‘a’ on the end instead of ‘er’.
Of course, this entire piece started off pointing the finger at those of us stupid enough to take this racial slur and hurl it on ourselves. Yes. I’m guilty. But, I’m working on it. I want to change things for you and me.
Before we can expect others to respect us, we first have to respect ourselves. That has to start with us no longer calling ourselves or our friends the ‘N’ word. We have to stop this vicious cycle. End this self disrespect. Put an end to this syndrome. We need to stand on the shoulders of giants. Be all we can be. Without being disrespectful to ourselves.
There’s nothing ‘slick’ about calling yourself or your friend the ‘N’ word. We don’t hear whites calling themselves crackers. We don’t hear Puerto Ricans calling themselves spics. No other race does this. It’s got to stop.
I heard it said before that oppression dehumanizes. In other words, people who are oppressed and held in low esteem will eventually internalize their oppression and resort to doing things that reflect and perpetuate their degradation and dehumanization. Well, calling ourselves the ‘N’ word is just one more example of how our oppression has caused us to degrade and dehumanize ourselves. There’s a saying that describes this to a Tee. Call a dog a cat long enough and the dog will begin to meow. The ‘N’ word was used to describe us so long that we started using it on ourselves, as a term of endearment.
So, the next time someone calls themselves or you, for that matter, the ‘N’ word, think about how degrading that is. Think about how dehumanizing this is. Think of how a much more appropriate word can be used.
Photo: Getty Images