That Word

That Word

When I decided to write an article on the one word that everybody refers to by its first letter, I knew I was in for it. The word always has been uncomfortable for me to speak on because of my personal distaste for the word, nigger. Let’s face it, the word was created to express hatred for black people. Use of the term strongly suggested that a nigger was less than human.

I was taught by my Tuskegee Airman – black history teaching father that I was indeed as human as anyone else walking the earth. I was not to use the word or allow anyone to refer to me as such. The word is just plain ugly. The first part “nig” is not a pleasant sound. It’s jarring, like the sound of gears improperly shifted. The second part, “ger” with the hard “g” sounds like a growl. You know, the sound an animal makes right before it eats you.

In 1970’s Detroit, one of my high school band mates told me, “You my nigga.” This version supposedly took the edge off, and we adopted it for our personal use. I was confused because I knew he loved me and I didn’t understand the concept of changing the meaning of the word, thereby losing its power and ugliness. I still don’t get that today.

I hear young people of all races saying ever so casually things like…”Hey my nigga, let’s go check out a movie.” I don’t hear the intent of “Hey my friend,” at all. The words you choose to express yourself carries weight in my book. You can call the sun the moon until you’re blue in the face, that doesn’t change the sun into the moon. Even if everybody agrees to the name change. To continue to do so makes you either a lone idiot or part of a large group of dummies. Say what you mean, mean what you say. Let’s kill the nigger word once and for all.

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