Seriously people, I love this argument put forth by stupid white folks who somehow clamor to say nigger and have black people smile, and even stupider black folks who claim that my use of nigger somehow empowers aforementioned white folks. The logic is just laughable, in that it basically asserts that words have the same meaning, no matter who says them, and no matter what the context. I'm sorry, if I called your woman "honey" you'd have a problem with me. Me saying, "But I just heard you call her that!!" probably wouldn't stop you from trying put me in the reconstructive surgery wing of a hospital. My partner and her closest female friends have been known to sling "bitch" around in playful banter. A quick way for me to lose custody of child and take up residence at the local singles bar would be for to address her in that manner. My father's mother used to call him "Billy" (His first name is William). But he'd have a big problem if I did the same.

I never thought that because Toby Keith made a record called White Trash With Money, that somehow gave me the right to address random white people in the fashion. I never thought the fact that there was a magazine called Heeb gave me the right to address my Jewish buddies as such. More to the point--I never wanted to. So this is what I don't understand--What's the big beef? Why is that in "Blackworld" the normal laws of human interaction somehow don't apply? I don't get white people who have a hard time with this--you call your mother "Mom," I call her Ms. Phillips--same deal here. Nigger means one thing when used amongst a group of people with similar experiences, and something else when used by people outside of that experience. Nigger when used by black people, is a lovely, lovely thing. I will believe that till the end of my days. It can be beautifully ominous ("Nigger, what?") and just plain beautiful ("Ta-Nehisi, that's my nigger").

Now a quick note of qualification--I am of that group of black people who've never had a white person refer to them as nigger, at least not to thier face. Frankly, we're I grew up there weren't any white people to say it. I once had a drunk white guy amble over to my table and claim his dog was a nigger, but that's about it. I was grown then, and he was obviously a fool. He didn't scar me one bit. But listen--there are black folks, who had to hear that word constantly as kids. I think there are less of them these days, but they obviously came up different than me. I have great sympathy for them and how they feel about the word. I understand why they don't want to be referred to in that way, or why anyone else wouldn't want to me. I just don't want them policing me.

UPDATE: In response to comment below, I--personally--have no problem with white people saying "nigger" while singing, say, a rap song. Also, I hate the phrase "n-word." I feel about "n-word" the way a lot of folks feel about nigger. Seriously, too many people in this world sit around waiting to take offense.


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