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According to the African American Registry “the word ‘nigger’ is often traced to the Latin word niger, meaning Black. This word became the noun, Negro (Black person) in English, and simply the color Black in Spanish and Portuguese. In early modern French, niger became negre and, later, negress (Black woman) was unmistakably a part of language history. One can compare negre to the derogatory nigger and earlier English substitutes such as negar, neegar, neger, and niggor that developed into its lexico-semantic true version in English. It is probable that nigger is a phonetic spelling of the White Southern mispronunciation of Negro.”

Today, the term “nigger” has come to mean a derogatory term for a Black person, given to them by white people. It is also considered negative by some Black people. Rappers and other popular African Americans use the name liberally whenever they feel like it. Some of them say the term is one of “endearment” when used by one Black person toward another one. This does not hold water, however, since Black people also use this term when cursing each other out.

Some performers, especially gangsta’ rappers, use the word freely. Consider the following lyrics from an album by Murder Mike and Du-Rag: INTRO: Yeah, mother-bucker; Sup, nigga; Gangsta Rap, nigga Nigga. The song ends this way: ‘Cause I’m a nigga! I’m a mother*uckin nigga, man, I ain’t all that African-American sh!t; F*ck that I’m a nigga, I ain’t mixed, I’m a nigga; N…-I-G-G-A; Nigga, you already know. In an online article by Ben Westhoff entitled “The N-Word Still Alive and Well in Hip-Hop,” it reports that rapper Nas named his album Nigger. Nas says that “(we’re) taking power away from the word by using it.”

White people, on the other hand, get in hot water when using the word. In another online article by Luchina Fisher entitled “5 White Celebrities Whose Use of N-Word Backfired,” Madonna used the word as a term of endearment toward her son who is white and ended up having to apologize. Gwyneth Paltrow also found herself in the midst of criticism in the summer of 2012 after tweeting “Ni**as in Paris for real,” when referring to Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Paris performance of their very popular song, “Ni**as in Paris.” The actress countered her critics, tweeting, “Hold up. It’s the title of the song!”

Other white celebs who have come under fire for using the “N” word include Charlie Sheen, who used it in a derogatory manner against his ex-wife; Paris Hilton in a video circulated online showing her and her sister Nicky dancing to Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize,” wherein she exclaims to the camera, “We’re like two n****rs.” Tim Allen, “Home Improvement” star generated controversy after he openly talked about why he should be able to use the n-word. “I’ve had this argument on stage a million times,” Allen told the Tampa Bay Times. “I do a movie with Martin Lawrence and pretty soon they’re referring to me, ‘hey my n****r what’s up.’ So I’m the n****r’ if I’m around you guys but 7 feet away, if I said n****r, it’s not right. It’s very confusing to the European mind how that works….” “If I have no intent, if I show no intent, if I clearly am not a racist, then how can ‘n****r’ be bad coming out of my mouth?” asked Allen.

Basically, if looked at logically, it makes NO SENSE for some people to be able to use the word freely, while others are not. According to the aforementioned article, Ice-T once said: “If you are it, you can use it.” NOT. It does not matter if it is used by Black, white, purple, blue, yellow or red people, a negative word is a negative word. Period. This is especially true when Blacks who say they are using it as a term of endearment turn around and use it in a derogatory manner on each other. Some whites have even come under fire for repeating the lyrics to a song written by a Black person that has the word in it. This is ridiculous and smacks of pure hypocrisy!

We have to make up our minds; either nigger is an abhorrent term that should not be used at all, or we should relax and ignore centuries of derogatory use and let it morph into an acceptable term that can be used by EVERYONE. It’s either or, not both/and. Logic would dictate, however, that it will not be totally possible to extricate it from its negative connotation. Because of this, perhaps no one should use it. A Luta Continua.

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