As I walk around campus on a day to day basis trying to balance class and track practice, I couldn’t help but wonder what was making me feel so uncomfortable to the point I grew angry. It was this gut feeling that you know cannot be wrong but the figuring out why it was there just made me sick. But finally I was relieved by my confusion as a colleague passed by and gave me his greeting of “what’s up my nigga.”
Now, lots of people would consider this a mutual greeting between two African-American’s. On television it is portrayed as the right way for Black people to greet one another. In popular music it is used in almost every other word. How is it that the word “nigga”, which was created by the root term “nigger”, be justified as a correct way of saying hello? In the 19th Century, Plantation owners called their servants and slaves “nigger” and “nigga” as demeaning words to describe their stupidity, lack of knowledge, and restrictions to freedom. For almost a century and a half it was viewed as a negative term to describe African-Americans. Yet, today, it has become a norm for almost ALL races to use.
If the word “nigga” is to be used as a acceptable word to greet one another, is it safe to use other “racist” terms to greet people as well? For instance, if I see a Hispanic/Mexican walking towards me and he says “what’s up my nigga”, am I incorrect by replying with,”nothing much wetback?” Of course many will argue that “wetback” was not a term in History books that was used as a social degrading term towards Latinos. However, it will sure as hell piss them off.
The majority of slang and foul mouthing is used by ages 14-25. If you take a older gentleman and call him a term that is conflicting with his immediate nationality it will spark a flame in his eyes and you will now be known as the racist guy. On the other hand, if you say “nigga” every 5 words in a sentence to someone of the ages 14-25, it is probably the only way they will understand the other 4/5 words you are transferring to their ignorant brains. However, the need for necessary words to be in your vocabulary in order to successful feel comfortable while talking to someone is based on the following:
- Knowledge of World History and the struggles between races.
- Lifestyle (culture/subcultures)
- Identifying your environment (knowing what is right and wrong not only to yourself but others as well)
- Self Respect
Knowledge of World History can play a major role when it comes to the actuality of present, past, and future. Throughout our time in grade school we studied the problems that the World has faced since the “cavemen” came about. There were social conflicts between Blacks/Whites, Hispanics/Whites, English/Spanish, and so forth. All individual nationalities and cultures have clashed with another at some time in history. From knowing this we also know the terms that were associated with identifying different races. Terms such as: nigga(er), cracker, coon, coolie, greenhorn, jap, gook, chink, auzzie, wetback, etc. It is impossible that within ones lifetime one of those words will not be heard or used. It is up to the maturity of the individual to decipher where and how to use it.
Education ties into the level of maturity that one possess. Someone that has a low level of education is not aware of the boundaries that most educated people keep as a second nature norm. Going outside of these norms just seems wrong in most cases. Words, meaning, and actions that defy another race is never accepted in a community structured with diversity and immediate communication between one another. However, if several of the same race group up together, then the rules of engagement with word choice is slightly altered due to the level of comfort-ability. Again, the maturity will determine the outcome.
Lifestyle pertains to cultures and subcultures that is carried by an individual. One that carries them self in a culture that revolves religious views, educational goals, and optimism is unlikely to abuse the word system. Those that fall under the category of deviant cultures and subcultures such as gangs, mafias, trouble making, drugs, sex and alcohol are more likely to feel the need to express themselves using them. For example, I myself will try not use race defying words to describe, list, category, symbolize, or criticize another person. I carry myself with confidence, use correct pronunciation, and speak with a high level of education. For that, I am often called “white-washed”, which means to have the characteristics of a stereotypical Caucasian. Is it fair that to act myself I have to be talked down unto by those of my own nationality? And if I act “Black” I will be turn down on by other nationalities?
Identifying your environment is to know your surroundings. If you are around a majority of blacks you will be unlikely to use the word “nigga.” In other words, if your going to be ignorant, be smart about it.
Self Respect for oneself come down to the person using the word that conflicts with their own race. If you would not like for someone outside of your race to use the same word that you are using, don’t say it. Yes, this is a country with Freedom of Speech, but that does not mean to use such words drastically.
“An extract remarks a north.”