Since I'm not an American, maybe I missed out some crucial part of American history when the term nigger can no longer be used by whites, Hispanics and any other ethnicity for that matter, but blacks can, without any fear of reprisal, call each other "niggers" on a regular basis. I've spent years studying American history, and I couldn't find a reason. So maybe it's a cultural thing.

OK, even back in 1913, the term nigger is considered an insult.

Nig"ger (?), n.

A negro; -- in vulgar derision or depreciation.

Alright, I get that. Then how did it all of a sudden become so fashionable for blacks to call each other niggers? Do Asians go around and call each other chinks? Do poor white Americans call each other trailer trash? Not that I can see. Oh wait a second, maybe it's a big joke. Alright then, why can't we use it? Why is it that any non-black using the term nigger around blacks would be immediately threatened with physical pain?

Hey, it doesn't end there. Gays have turned queer into a word of honor. Hey, "out" everythingians, do gay people say things like "He's my favorite queer boy"? So blacks have turned a formerly derisive term into a term of endearment. Alright, that still doesn't answer why blacks can use nigger and we can't. I can use the term queer without fearing reprisal in Cornell. I can't say the same for nigger.

If you ask me, this is just a load of crock. "Banned words" seem to be universal, except nigger. I mean, words like gook, chink, slant eye, kike, spic, nip, Kraut, frog, mick, wop, dago, etc. are all considered insults, and I don't hear any Jews calling each other "kikes". I don't call my fellow Chinese "chinks". To me, it's just more political correctness and selective application of free speech. Give me one specific reference to African-American culture that allows the term nigger to be used by blacks only. And give me a good reason.


Right. We Chinese have taken a century of abuse courtesy of the whites, especially in the Western states, and yet, we hardly ever bitch about whites. We do not even come close to the level to which blacks complain about white boys.

Alright, so you say it is self-depriciating. So why can't Asians use the term chigger. I find absolutely no evidence of any Asian/black conflicts in American history, so chances are we have never used the word nigger as an insult. Yet, we still can't use it.

Oh well, like I care. Just pointing out the selective application of free speech.

In middle america last week, two black males were suspended from school for calling each other "Nig" as a form of greeting in the hallways. They are high school students, and part of the .8% population of kids that are other than white at this school. I think punishing them for this sends the wrong kind of message.

Punishing these two kids for calling each other "Nig", or "nigger", or even "worthless darkie" is wrong wrong wrong. Its wrong because by doing this, the administration of a self-described 'progressive' school system is still lending power and credence to these words. By accepting these words into their culture and using them as a form of greeting or humor, blacks are basically neutering it and robbing it of it's power. If it doesn't bother them to call each other Nig, it probably won't (or shouldn't) bother them to be called this by the racist asshole without a brain in his head.

In my opinion, words are just words, and we can't ever get rid of them just because they're 'bad.' What makes a word bad is how people perceive it in it's power and usage. Punishing these kids is a move that couldn't possibly be more ill-conceived or poorly thought out.

Nig.
Certainly, as late as the mid-20th century, in England, the word could be used to describe a black person or thing without any offensive intent.

Watch the old war movie "The Dambusters". It's the one about the Royal Air Force using a revolutionary bouncing bomb in an attack on German Hydro schemes. The attack was made by 617 squadron led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson. The code word used to signal the success of the mission was the name of his dog.

What was the name of his dog ?

Nigger

What type of dog was it ?

A Black Labrador.

He loved his dog. He meant it no harm at all in giving it that name, and no comment at all is made on it in the film.

This word may have been derived from Spanish negro ('black' or 'black person'), possibly via British English or Dutch, which until very recently had neger as the neutral word for a dark-skinned person, or more specifically, a person of Bantu descent. The Spanish form is derived from Latin niger ('black', 'dark').

It's an unfortunate fact of life that perfectly clear and useful words can become laden with connotations and become tainted and suspect for that reason alone. This is probably what happened to 'nigger', too.

A lot of white people wonder why Black people call each other nigger, yet get really offended when a white man uses the word. I don't think there is a double-standard at work here. The issue is more about the history of the word nigger and how it was used in American society.

Nigger is a shortening of Negro, and became known as a word of abuse during the 1950s and 1960s. Remember that in those days even educated Blacks were looked down upon and confined to the ghetto. The word was, and still is, used by whites to diminish blacks.

Blacks use the word differently. It is a diminutive to them as well, but suggests familiarity much as we might call someone named David Davey. They're saying 'don't get uppity' to each other. But the person who says it is also black. He's the same, so he's a nigger too. The word in that context is a diminutive but inclusive, reminding the two black men of their shared identity.

A white man who uses the word nigger can't do that. He is and always will be seen as a member of the dominant class, the slaveowner rather than the slave. The word can never be inclusive, because the two men don't share that identity. This is why white men can't use the word nigger.

Of course there are times when white and black men find themselves at odds. Black people are human. Like all people, you'll meet both saints and jackasses. It's normal to seek a clear way to express anger. But if a white man uses the word nigger, he's suggesting the problem has to do with the man's color, rather than his attitude. Using the word 'nigger' means the white guy is now the one with the attitude. It may let the other guy off the hook emotionally. I'd suggest as a white man that we just forego using the word nigger. After all, asshole works just fine.

Nig"ger (?), n.

A negro; -- in vulgar derision or deprecation.

 

© Webster 1913.

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