» Dear White People, “Nigga” Is Off Limits…

Dear White People, “Nigga” Is Off Limits…

Dear White People,

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but… well actually I’m not sorry. Nope, I feel no remorse in letting you know that even though you live with a privilege that I will never have the opportunity to experience that this one thing is off limits to you. So, yes, the word nigga is completely off limits for you point, blank, period.

It’s hard to explain, but at the same time I feel like as a black person in America I shouldn’t have to explain. When my fellow black bother or sister says it, I feel a comradery, a closeness, an understanding of shared experiences. When you say it, I feel uneasy, uncomfortable – you know the feeling you get in your gut right before the big drop on a roller coaster? That’s what it feels like when that word comes from your lips to my ears.

I know you don’t mean offend or belittle me with it like your ancestors may have, but in my lifetime it has been used to do just that. You see, when I was 16 years old, I was a maid working for rich white folks. For a teenager, the money was great, but the experience was awful. The way these people would look at you, and talk to you, and talk about you, or just ignore you was enough to make you feel like you were the scum of the earth.

You could just tell that they felt that they were superior. Then when I worked in New York, people would often call and say, “You big mouthed nigger” and hang up the phone. When you use that word, for some reason it always brings me back to these and other not so great racial moments I’ve experienced in life.

Granted, I can’t tell you how to conduct yourselves around other black people. Maybe your other black friends said it was okay for you to say nigga; you know, they gave you “a pass.” Cool, I get it, but know that that pass isn’t universal, so around me that word’s a no go, and around some people I know that’s an instant punch in the face. No, that’s not a threat, that’s just reality.

So, I know it’s in rap songs, all the comedians say in their funniest jokes, but just know that when you use it, it may be followed with a dirty look, an negative assumption about your character, a lecture, or even some sort of assault. If you’re still willing to go down that road, fine; but just be willing to deal with the potential consequences you may incur.

Danie B.

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