This word is consistently contradictory, there is nothing that is NOT contradictory about this word. So my views on it are probably contradictory to a lot of people, because of the nature/history of the word itself.
This is not a word I use lightly, and like the word bitch when it comes out of my mouth, or across any post you see me writing, its use comes with certain stipulations.
I grew up around Black people who pretty much use the word freely. I used to feel like [I should be] the type of feminist who considered myself above profanity and use of the “n-word”, [or I didn’t deserve respect].
I learned that I am not and I had to stop policing myself. Whether its because of how and where I grew up doesn’t really matter, this just is:
1. “nigga” and “nigger” are two different things for many Black people, whether its right or wrong, and IT DOES DEPEND ON WHO IS SAYING IT to many of them
–How often do you hear Black people in pop media call each other “nigger”, right down to very last syllable? Probably not often, ‘cuz that’s something white people do and they mean something different by it. Many Black people feel this word has been reclaimed, in the form of “nigga”.
2. Both words come from a negative place to me–from anti-Blackness, labels of baseness and lesser intelligence.
–Even when Black people use this word affectionately, there’s always this weight with it. Like when someone says “Aw shit, dat’s [my nigga] right there!”, there’s this tone behind it, like “That’s [my stupid foolish friend] right there!”
3. I use the word “nigga” when talking to or about Black people who I feel are frustratingly internally oppressed and inflict their ignorance on everyone around them.
–Its never a compliment or means to promote camaraderie if I feel so frustrated that I use it. I use the word in frustration, confusion, not in hatred, because though it does contradict my beliefs there are Black people who use it (see #2). [I expect to be criticized by people of my race for this.]
4. I do prefer and try not to use this word at all, like the word bitch. But if the shoe fits.
5. White people/non-Black folks using this word, under any circumstances of insult, fun, and casualness, is RACIST.
–I do not use this word in front of white people (they use it without encouragement anyway) and I write posts like this to express how I feel and what I think about it. I feel like the use of this word makes these people feel like they have permission to do the same.
6. I do NOT think this word can be reclaimed.
–Even if it comes from the word “negro”, its been warped beyond all redemption by whites. I don’t expect anybody to call me a nigga, nigger, negro, or negroid. I think it will forever have a negative connotation and it would best if we just let it go.
7. I’m not going to tone/language police other Black people but I will not and I just can’t if they refuse to address me by my name or other acceptable pronouns, or refuse to do the same for others in my presence.
8. Yes, there are Black people who use the word “nigga” and genuinely feel that they don’t mean anything by it.
9. I feel like a lot of Black people continue to use this word because to address each other lovingly and with respect in a world that doesn’t treat us like human beings or with love or respect is to much for them.
–So basically I think the common use of this word is a crutch. Sometimes I feel its a crutch to keep Black folks from getting too high-minded about their place in the world, to remind Black Americans that we are not free and have never been free in this country. So don’t get to comfortable.
10. I believe its origins and meaning are in the brutality and dehumanization of slavery and we need to let it go. But how can we let go of a word that’s so connected to same suffering and dehumanization that created it in the first place when that oppression still continues today?