RIP Robin Williams, an amazing man with great talent.
“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.”- N.H. Kleinbaum, Dead Poet’s Society
“Don’t Touch That Trash Can, You Lil’ Nigga”-Anonymous
The above quote may seem harmless in a sense– seeing as the most offensive word used has become common terminology to many and accepted by most. But, maybe when I explain the way it was used and why it bothered me so much, you’ll choose reevaluate the statement.
I am going to try to make this short and sweet, so here goes:
The other day my sister, younger cousin and I were over at my grandmother’s and as we prepared to leave, my cousin’s nephew– who is 11 months old– rolled around in the kitchen in his bouncy chair. As he bounced around he moved closer to the trash can and, seeing as any and everything attracts the eye of an infant, began to touch it. Well, obviously you don’t want children touching anything containing garbage, so his aunt, my younger cousin, told him to stop. But what she said specifically was: “Stop! Don’t touch that trash can you lil’ nigga,” and began to laugh.
Now, no offense to my cousin, I love her very much, but that was one of the most ridiculous things I’d ever heard in my life. My sister and I could not believe that she just called an 11 month old a “lil nigga.” I mean, who does that? Immediately we began to tell her that she shouldn’t say things like that to him. Statements like those are exactly why my relatives are so screwed up today; it’s why people feel unloved, lost and hopeless. Sure, there’s more that contributed to their current situations, I’m not that naïve, but it would also be very naïve to think that it didn’t start with someone calling someone a little nigger.
Oh, I’m sorry. Did my usage of the word nigger offend you? Is that word not appropriate? I do apologize, but I should remind you that nigger and nigga are the same word, one of them is just slang. Now, let me quickly make my point before I get lost in the debate of word reappropriation.
Following that incident, there was another discussion about the situation and, again, I heard another outrageous comment –my cousin mentioned it, the person didn’t actually say it in my presence. Obviously I have a lot of respect for this person, but what he said has to be one of the most idiotic statements ever. It was something like: I am going to call my sons niggas to prepare them for what’s coming– that’s an obvious misquote, but you get the point. My response: no. no, no, no, no, NO. Firstly, it’s very presumptuous to assume that someone in his lifetime will use the term in a derogatory way, which I’m going to assume is coming from someone of another race, maybe? And that’s the reason for the tough love deal. Secondly, it’s important to note that if/when he does get called a nigga, it will more that likely be by someone of his own race. So, yeah. You’re preparing him for what, the names that we call ourselves?
Here’s the deal: I am not a nigga. I am not a nigger. I am an African-American female. Bam, boom, done, end of story. Nigger was and still is a derogatory term. B*tch was and still is a derogatory term. If you wouldn’t say to your daughter, “don’t touch that trash can you lil’ b*tch” then you shouldn’t say things of equal value to your son. If any woman gets called a c**t and her solution is to take ownership of the word and start calling all women c**ts, then lord do help us all. Heck, we’ve basically already done that with the B word; women answer to it, they call themselves Bs and hoes, and there are songs dedicated to such. That’s stupid. Sorry, not sorry.
If you haven’t read the “Willie Lynch Letter” then maybe you should. Regardless of if it’s fabricated or not– you never know these days– its context remains true: “Keep the body take the mind…Pay little attention to the generation of original breaking, but concentrate on future generations” (Finalcall.com News), and that is exactly what has been done. Someone, somewhere along the lines of history made people think it was okay to use the very terms that were meant to degrade them. Sure, some people use the term nigga to mean “homie” but when they’re upset, guess what? They use it in its original demeaning form. E.g.
“whaddup up my nigga?” aka “what’s up homie?”
“you aint nothing but a nigga, just like every other nigga!” aka “you are an ignorant, incompetent human being and I can’t stand you!”
That doesn’t look like much reappropriation to me.
In my opinion, some terms are not meant to be reclaimed, they’re meant to die. Most of us are guilty of using it at some point, myself included, but maybe we’d like to stop. And even more so, maybe we’d like to not impress such terms and ideologies on the young minds of our children. Just a thought.
*disclaimer* I am not implying that rap music makes people use the N word, or is in any way responsible for other behavior; but as with any and everything else, I’m sure it’s a contributor. I just like the pic and it makes a point. Thanks.
(Picture source: http://weheartit.com/gypsyone | via Tumblr)
via Tumblr http://personallyc.tumblr.com/post/71658068492/dont-touch-that-trash-can-you-lil-nigga