The Enigmatic N-Word

By H. Lewis Smith

Even though not all black Americans refer to themselves as the pejorative n-word, an alarming proportion of the Black community uses and/or supports use of the term. For instance, ministers invoke the word from their pulpits, and the NAACP, with the wink of the eye, looks the other way when prominent blacks publicly embrace the word. Many black college professors support their students' use of the word. Minister Louis Farrakhan has glowingly utilized the word in some of his speeches. It's liberally promoted in mainstream media, such as in the music of rappers and television shows like The Boondocks. In grassroots black America, many are simply so consumed by the word, that they're unable to survive a 48-hour period without using the term.

In addition, proponents of the n-word offer a myriad of excuses as to why they self-internalize the word. Some of the "justifications" allude to the idea that black users of the word are taking the sting out of the term by using it, as well as they are changing the meaning of the idiom by using it endearingly and changing the suffix on the word from "er" to "a". So what does this all mean one may ask; to black Americans who refuse to succumb to the use and acceptance of the disparaging term, what is supposed to be the problem with the n-word?

To be candid, blacks who refrain from the use of the word are NOT in denial of a 300-year-African American Holocaust. Acknowledging the sinister history of the n-word is not giving power to the word as some claim. However, accepting use of the word does subliminally give it power; even though one doesn't realize it at the surface level, when one is referred to as a "n**ga", all of the memories of contempt, negativity and inferiority courses through one's veins and mental. Just think about it: For almost four centuries some very heinous and terrible atrocities occurred to Black Americans' beloved ancestors in the name of the n-word. It was a term of exclusion, verbal justification for inhumane acts, including slaughtering, butchering, brutal rapes, death and terrorizing.

To embrace and or accept n**ga as a term of endearment that individual is either in a continued state of denial or the word has subconsciously over-powered and brainwashed that individual into his/her "place". Either way, the progress and rejuvenation of the black community is stagnant, and the demise continues.

Each time we call one another n**ga or n**ger as terms of so-called endearment, the memories and spirits of the black forefathers are desecrated and dishonored. Duty is calling and the time is now for ALL blacks to bestow upon ancestors a better and more dignified place in the black race's collective memory than any individual money-hungry rapper, self-centered comedian, or blind revisionist has accorded them to date.

The history of the word n**ger cannot and should not be overlooked. The word is so stigmatized that to attempt to redefine it would suggest that an African-American Holocaust never took place. But the fact is the event did occur. Certainly words change and evolve, and though it can easily be argued that context can change words, the original purpose/intent of the word and its place in history cannot change.

The term acts as an unrelenting daily assault on the Black psyche designed to corrupt Black Americans' sense of racial unity and cohesion. It molds the character of self-hatred, engenders self-doubt, self-loathing, and distrust among the group, thus, pulverizing Black unity and halting Black upward mobility.

There is an 18th century mentality associated with the term: An old woman, an escape slave, in a conversation with a missionary was quoted as saying: "We are n**gers. We always was n**gers and we always shall be. We've got no souls. We's animals. We's black and so is the Evil One."

The Bible doesn't say the devil is black, protested the missionary. "Well," the old woman said, "white folks say so and we's bound to believe them, cause we's nothing but animals and n**gers. Yes, we's n**gers! N**gers! N**gers!"

This 18th century mentality is alive and well throughout the 21st century black community. To be succinct, the true and ONLY reason blacks refer to themselves as the n-word is because white folks said to do so...where else did the programming, conditioning and the word n**ger originate?

The word n**ger is as much a part of American history as slavery, the Civil War, and the Boston Tea Party, and it would be naivety to assume that it can be made to disappear. It is just as naïve to assume that the term's satanical history is some sort of illusion, however, the word can be made to vanish, banned, abolished from the speech of all Black Americans as it should be. Thinking like helpless and hopeless victims, users of the word see a task such as eradicating the use of the word from their vocabulary as impossible. Such an attitude is unlike that of the 60s when the indomitable spirit of Black America rejected the terms of Negro and Colored choosing instead to adopt the terms of Black and African American.

They chose to define themselves as opposed to being defined. Just as that spirit of determination and striving toward self-respect and progress reigned throughout the ‘60's, blacks of today can infuse that same spirit into defining themselves in a positive light rather than being defined by some past idea of inferiority. It is time to leave all remnants of the past in the past, and move forward with a clear head and [self-definition] founded on personal integrity, cultural and individual respect.

H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc., a writer for the New England Informer Online; and author of "Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word". Follow H. Lewis Smith on Twitter:

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  • Europe
    The really dangerous words for an awakening populous are 'NO' and 'NEGLECT'.

    The writer of the original post is the 'embraces of the n-word'. Isn't it obvious?!? He's protecting massa's language. Fighting to keep it intact... NEGLECTING his own house and saying NO to his and his people's freedom... 'sigh'

    "babble-on must cease to exist. And it is us who will (have to) bring it down brick (word/spell) by brick."

    How deep the rabit hole goes?!? Well...

    The rest of us 'real n-words' would be calling this original poster a 'house negro'. As if using more words to bring each other down would wake one up.
    Nigga is just the first and most symbolic word to be taken care of by us and to be taken out of anybody else's mouth.
    Next are the expressions we keep amoungst us the wrong way. For example:
    House negro = house neglect
    - The first is part of this Babylonian spell. It brings us down.
    - The latter is how we could and maybe should use it. Awake each other!

    Ebonics (and all of its flavors)...: "[the] Living word of G*d"

    Word is bond. Like covenant.
    Word is will. 'n hear it!

    Price: 5 talents / Unit-E
    Reward: 20 talents / E-turn-a-T

    What to do when G*d calls to morph us?
    Pick up the phonatic
    Speak neo-grammer
    BLACK PENTA GRAMmar i.e. Ebonics


    "eye sea black people"
  • Georgia
    It is not so much the word, but the intent behind the word. I reserve the right to respect myself by not using that word. I don't have to get angry at white people for using that word, BUT.....If a white person does use the word, it tells me something about that white person. Likewise, if a black person uses that word to describe themselves, it tells me about that black person. By not using the N-word, a black person has more control over their image. I am not into using words for shock value or to play psychological head games. If all black people truly respected themselves, the use of the N-word would become archaic on it's own. Every time a white or black person uses it, just ignore or look at them like they are crazy.
  • West
    --- On Thu, 8/19/10, Osagie Ayanru wrote:

    From: Osagie Ayanru
    Subject: [PanAF_House] Re: [Mwananchi] Nigger! Nigger! Nigger!, Now, Did The Date: Thursday, August 19, 2010, 3:09 PM

    A resounding Ashe, to this admonition, Chief Elder. Respect and warmest regards from Benin City, Nigeria where your message is as relevant as it is in New York City and the Afrikan Diaspora.
  • West
    Nigger! Nigger! Nigger!, Now, Did The World Stop Spinning By My Use Of The Word, Nigger?

    By Chief Elder Osiris

    There Is Much More Where This Come From

    If I share It, I Can Divinely Defend It, But If I Share It And Can Not Divinely Defend It, Then You Should Be Offended, And It Take A Divine Mind To Do Both!!!

    Why should I listen to certain People of the Black Race, a Race That Has been Disrespectful To The Honorable Marcus Garvey And In Bondage For Approximately Five Hundred Years In America, And Have Yet To Acknowledge The One Thing We Need To Do To Free Ourselves, Which Is To Demand Our Enslaved Ancestors Reparation.

    Why Should I Listen To You Tell Me About A Word, A Word That Has Nothing To Do With Our Liberation From America, As you Attempt To Not Be Embrassed By The Use Of The Word Nigger.

    Based upon the condition of Afrika and the Black so call Afrikan Nation, there is no Nigger that can be effective to me, in telling me that I can not use the Word Nigger!

    Tell me, do White people still hold such a control over the Black Mind until Black people are still willing to assign power to white people, the creator of the word Nigger.

    Tell me, is it because of the white man creation of words and assign to them their definition, that those words definition come not with an expiration Date, and the only way we can get around such words that have been created to inappropriately define me because I am Black, is for me to play games with myself over words claiming derogatory meaning about me?

    Tell me, is by me refraining from using the word Nigger will make white people weak and Black People strong?

    Tell me, what is it that determine the strength of a people, is it body strength or is it Mental strength, and since it is Mental strength that trump body strength and the word Nigger is being asked by Black people to Black people, to stop using the word Nigger, such a request show that Black people are still being made to be the weakest of all, and that just a word as Nigger, still have us reacting as if the word has a body life of its own, as it attack the Mind of Black so call Afrikan unhyphenated Americans.

    The word Nigger stand right there along side of the word Jesus, two words that has done damage to the psychic of Black people, in a demeaning way, with the word Jesus being the most Black self destructive of all words used by Black so call Afrikan Unhyphenated Americans.

    I will make a deal with the so call Black Educated Afrikan unhyphenated American, to you who do not have control of your Mind, to the extent that they are afraid of the Word Nigger in this Millennium of Time, the deal is, if you Black phony so call educated Afrikan unhyphenated Americans, will refrain from using the word Jesus, then I will refrain from using the word Nigger!!!

    When the Divine Mind is no longer in control of the Black Body Life, then White Folks Mind is, and it is white folks Mind that Black educators carry, that is telling Black people to stop using the word that some Black people have find a way to defeat, which is Nigger, because those Black people who can use the word Nigger in the context of our Defining moment of the word, it show a character of the Mind that is free from the bondage of the word nigger that white people were in control of at one Time.

    So since White people no longer hold control over the word that they have created to be used to demean and antagonize Black people, they send their Black educated Dogs out to tell Black people who are revealing a fraction of free Thinking in regard to the word Nigger, advising Black people to refrain from the use of the word that was created by white people, and had a stinging effect upon the Mind of Black people, and still does have a controlling effect upon the Black so call educated Afrikan unhyphenated American Human Being Mind, the word Nigger I am sharing here about.

    So you see, it is the so call Educated Black Afrikan unhyphenated Americans, you who are offended by the word Nigger and not those Black people who have taken control of the word Nigger and now has it to mean whatsoever we desire it to mean, because it no longer effect the Mind of a free Thinking Black so call Afrikan.

    I can care less about the word Nigger, as has been made to mean about me, because I am now ascending back into the use of my Divine mind, dismissing everything created by that Devilish, Satanic, Luciferian Being, calling himself a Human Being of a White phenotype, and succeeded to have such a type of description to represent being superior over the so call Black Afrikan Phenotype.

    Therefore, must we always be a reactionary people to what ever white people do and have done to Black people, and all has been in the act of lying and deceiving Black people to believe that White People are the True Children of God, therefore, what they say about us must be True, as we are still reacting to a harmless word that take on meaning and power if we give power to the word as defined to mean by white people, the word being Nigger!!!

    Black people problems in the world today, is way more than a word, the problem the word nigger hold to be stunning to Black people, is because of a greater problem of Black people, and that problem is that we have lost our Divine Mind, and now we find ourselves concentrating on a word created by that Devilish white Man and not on Freeing ourselves from that Devilish white Man, and where there is no freedom, there is no relief from the power of Satan, Lucifer the Human Being, he being the creator of the word Nigger and gave to it its meaning.

    So, now in our low caliber Human Being Mind, we feel as if we must abandon the use of the word Nigger , a word we have defeated and now have control of, and Lucifer can not stand to see what once use to be his powerful weapon of a word, is no more under his control.

    The word Nigger does not make me cringe, it signify the Freedom of my Mind, every time I use the word Nigger, it no longer belong to white folks, and the so call educated Nigger want the word Nigger to be given back to the Devil that created it.

    No beloved, it is Time for the strong of Mind of Black people to stop being reactionaries to what Satan and his angels have done to the Black Nation and Afrika, and begin to be active in tearing down all of the psychic fences that has been constructed in the Human Being Mind of a Brand New Black so call Afrikan, one who are afraid of the word still, the word Nigger.

    A Divine True Sign that Black people are still slaves in in the contour of our Human Being Mind, a Mind that is not the original Mind of Black people who still are running scared of the Word Nigger, but not of the word Jesus, what a foolish and ignorant Black people we have become, concerning the Word that has no meaning unless we accept the meaning been given to it by the Devil, or a meaning been assigned to it by a free Thinking of the word, Nigger.

    I am not here to be your buddy, I am here to be your Divine Mirror, so that you can look at the reflection of what you Black people have been made to be, which is not Divine, but profanely Human.

    If Black people would show as much passion for Reparation as we show about getting the word nigger not to be used by Black People, then I must inform you that Afrika would be for the Afrikans and the Black Nation would be United again, making the word nigger irrelevant to the life and spirit of a Divine Black Unified Nation.

    So There It Is, Deal With It As You Want To, But Will Not Deal With It As You Need To.

    Be Kind To Your Self, Beloved.

    Chief Elder
    See related links to what you are looking for.
  • Georgia
    I agree!! We need more black intellectuals to combat the buffoonish image of the black man that we see so commonly displayed in the media. I have two books designed to get people thinking on a higher level called Plain Talk Volumes 1 and 2 (Digging a Little Deeper) People need to wake up and break their minds free of all of these slavish attitudes.
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