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Nigga What

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Bobby Yishrael

October 24, 2006

Anthony Brown

English 110.03

Nigga What

Many interpretations of the meaning and origin of the word "nigga" exist, as well as many different attempts to rationalize the use of it. However, all agree that it is a word originally created by racist whites to express contempt for black people and convince whites of their own superiority.

The word "Nigger" was created as a combination of the Spanish word "Negro," which means "black" and the Greek word "necro," which means "dead." Those who designed the word intended to plant in the minds of whites, blacks and the entire world the image of black people as inferior, contemptuous, and mentally dead. This was done to support the psychological enslavement that was necessary to keep black people physically, mentally, and spiritually enslaved.

Furthermore, when blacks refused to accept the names "Negro" or "Nigga," or any other name to demoralize their race, they were brutally tortured, mutilated and murdered in the worst imaginable ways. This inhumane treatment instilled a sense of mental bondage that lasted long after slavery.

Growing up in the "Jim Crow" era, Shaw University's legendary band director Mr. Charles Brown experienced the effects of this powerful word first hand and how it has evolved to become accepted by society.

"I feel it's still a degrading word. How could you call your own race a "nigga?" Growing up we would never call each other a word that white people used to get under our skin. When I first started teaching school, you would never hear two black students calling each other nigga, but just the other day I heard two white kids call each other 'nigga.' It blew my mind," Mr. Brown frankly stated.

"The word carries with it much of the hatred and disgust directed toward black African and African-Americans. Historically, the word "nigger" defined, limited, made fun of, and ridiculed all blacks. It was a term of exclusion, and a verbal reason for discrimination. Whether used as a noun, verb, or adjective, it strengthens the stereotype of the lazy, stupid, dirty, and worthless nobody. No other American nickname carries as much purposeful cruelty."(Pilgrim, 2)

To think, the period of civil rights was not only a movement for equality but a united peoples cry for what they dreamed. To be able walk with dignity, leaving the past a petal-stole of the steps they've climbed to prosperity. From black, to African American; from afro American to Negro; "Nigga" is more than just another word that can be found in the latest slang dictionaries. To many it's a painful reminder to a time in American history that didn't allow a race of people to thrive or grow. It was a time when it wasn't alright to be black solely because you were different. So what exactly justifies the use of the n-word in today's society and who's allowed to make use of the expression?

Many hip-hop artist as well as young whites casually toss the word around amongst

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