Who Said “Nigger”?

There seems to be an uproar (in the media) about a white comedian who used a string of offensive racial epithets in his comedy routine; but apparently crossed that fine line between funny and offensive. I am not making excuses for him but as a class clown I do know that when you are trying to make people laugh you can try too hard and work too fast and say things that are really offensive; with good in intention but offensive none the less.

Anyway I thought I would use this media moment to share my observations about the notorious “n” word: nigger. I live in New York City; Brooklyn to be specific. I am rather used to hearing words that would grow hair on the tongues of some people. I have to say that over the past twenty years I have heard the word nigger more times than you can imagine. I hear it used in conversation all over this city and it is used without a flinch from anyone except me. “Nigger” is one of those words that actually makes me very uncomfortable. It is part of the vernacular of our city.

The real problem is that the “n” word that I hear so often is used overwhelmingly by black people. It is used often, loudly, in public, when you are a captive audience (like on a bus or a subway car) and without any regard for how makes people within hearing range feel. I can count on one hand the number of white people that I have heard using the term “nigger” over the past few years but I can take you out to any school yard, subway car or any location where black teens gather and we won’t have to count to ten before you hear the term “nigger.” But you will have to count to ten, as matter of fact way past ten, if you try to keep count of how many times the word is used. I can also take you to my home and flip on some ethnic standup comedy cable special and guess what…”n” words galore! I can also show you video clips of almost any hip-hop wannabe celebrity like Jennifer Lopez referring to their close friends as their “niggas.” I hate it. I am sick of it. And quite frankly as long as I hear this offensive term flung around in public, out loud, very out lout, along with every other offensive word as defined by the Christian purists and the FCC and pointed out by George Carlin in his comedy bit about the seven dirty words you can never say on TV, I don’t want to hear any complaints about the words use by non-blacks; especially when the real intention was to make people laugh. I am sorry but speaking as someone who has tried very hard to be a respectful person even while being a “social comedian.” I have issues with hypocrisy, even when it comes to asking for respect. Think about it!

2 Responses to “Who Said “Nigger”?”

  1. Truth Seeker on March 4, 1972 on January 7, 2003 on August 21, 2004, or no, sorry, actually says:

    This issue annoys me too. Any black person who uses the term “nigger”, but who gets angry when someone else–anyone else–says it, is an idiot. And I’ve heard many a black person use the term. Many, many black comedians use the word (and use it constantly), but so do many black people who aren’t comedians (as Jesse points out).

    I’ve heard it suggested that to castrate the ability of a word to offend, it should be introduced into the vernacular, aired out, and used often. But this isn’t what black people are attempting to do, because they still get mightily damned offended when a white person uses the term.

    I’ll say it again: If you are black, and you use the term “nigger”, but get angry when someone else uses it, you are an idiot. Why? Because either a word is acceptable, or it is not. The speaker is irrelevant. A word should not be taken to mean one thing when spoken by one person, and an entirely different thing when spoken by someone else.

    If I’m wrong, where do you draw the line? If it’s OK for a black person to pepper conversation with the word “nigger”, what about a person who is 3/4 black? What about 1/2 black? Is it still OK then? Or is it just “half OK”? What about a person who is a very light-skinned African-American? If they use the term “nigger”, are you going to beat the hell out of them, and then apologize for doing so after reviewing their family tree?

    The solution is to generally discourage the term, not to use it yourself, but also not go apeshit when you hear someone use it.

    It’s not what they call you, it’s what you answer to.

  2. Truth Seeker on March 4, 1972 on January 7, 2003 on August 21, 2004, or no, sorry, actually says:

    I just read this in a news article:

    Comedian Paul Rodriguez, who was at the Laugh Factory during Richards’ performance, said he was shocked.

    “Once the word comes out of your mouth and you don’t happen to be African-American, then you have a whole lot of explaining,” Rodriguez told CNN. “Freedom of speech has its limitations and I think Michael Richards found those limitations.”

    Paul Rodriguez is an asshole. So if this incident involved not Michael Richards, but someone fitting my description above–a light-skinned “black” person–they would initially be condemned, and would then face the task of saying “No, it’s cool, I’m black. Oh yeah, I know, I know–I don’t LOOK black, but I am. No, really!”

    And then what, they would have to go about proving their “blackness”?

    Or, what if Michael Richards was biracial? Would he have to issue a statement, but not have to apologize on Letterman?


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