The Nigger-Word "Double Standard"

Two weeks ago comedian Chescaleigh, posted a video blog on why using the word nigga or nigger is socially acceptable for black people and why it not acceptable for other races to use the word. Chescaleigh explains how she is bothered when a non-black person argues that it is not "fair" that they can not used the word nigga/nigger without negative consequences and that is a double standard when black people can say nigga/nigger. 

I am probably among the few people who completely disagrees with Chescaleigh. If a is acceptable for black person to use the word nigga or nigger, then this should be true for anyone else. 


Some History 

Nigger is a combination of the Spanish noun for black which is negro and the Latin noun for black, which is niger. European/white people began using the word nigger during slave trade as a way of implying that black people lacked common knowledge and are primitive. 

In many places around the world, nigger was used to describe a dark skinned person. Someone who is not white. Nigger was not used in a derogatory manner. However today, most countries consider the word to be racist. Some areas it is illegal to use the word nigger. 

In North American the word has always been used as a pejorative. It is an insult and is meant to display disrespect towards a black person. 

It is a little harder to pin point the origin of the word nigga. Back in the 70s, comedian Paul Mooney started using the phrase "Nigga, please." Later the word nigga became popularly used in hip hop music. 


According to Chescaleigh, there is an inside-group vs outside group dynamic which allows me to say nigga all day long and it okay. But who is inside the group and who is outside the group?

If you ride the train far enough Uptown in Manhattan, New York you will hear the word nigga used very causally among groups of hispanic people. No one ever seems bothered by this. It is also not uncommon to see that one white kid amongst his black friends using the word. I have definitely heard nigga being used within groups of Asians. There is no clear definition of who is inside this group of people who can say this word and who can not. 

Eminem says nigga in his old songs "Biterphobia" and "What Color is Soul". He has also been known to say it while free style rapping. It's probably even safe to assume that before Eminem became famous, he used the word just as often as the black hip hop artists. However you will not hear him use this word today. Okay, so now we are starting to define this inside/outside group. Thus far it looks like famous white people are apart of the outside. 

Oh but wait. Louis C.K. said nigger a bunch of times while talking about the meaning of certain words in his one hour comedy special "Chewed Up".  As did George Carlin. Neither was ridiculed or labelled a racist. Nor did they issue a statement apologizing for using the word. And just to clarify, they both used the word nigger. Not nigga. 

I make the distinction because Chescaleigh points out in her video, that some black people use the word as a term of endearment. As a way to "Reclaim it. An act of defiance… turn it around and change its meaning into something else." she explains. Like 2pac said "Niggers was the ones on the rope, hanging off the thing; niggas is the ones with gold ropes, hanging out at clubs." He also made nigga an acronym that stood for "Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished."

If there is a different between nigger and nigga, then why was Madonna recently chastised for using the hashtag "#disnigga"  referring to her son in an Instagram photo? She was obviously using the same philosophy as 2pac.

Thus far it just seems as though a certain type of white person is on the outside group and the specificity of this outside group is still not clearly defined. 

I am sure I'm not the only person who despised Samuel L Jackon every time his character "Stephen" uttered the word nigga in the movie "Django Unchained". The manner in which he spoke the word was so much more offensive and had so much more hatred behind it, than when the other actors used it in their dialog.  

So I don't understand this "inside group vs outside group" justification for being able say nigger or nigga and having it be socially acceptable. 

The final point Chescaleigh makes in her video is that the people who argue it is a double standard for a black person to be able to say nigger or nigga without consequence and other races can not, are self serving and disingenuous. She goes on to say that these people do not care about fairness because if they did then they would be focused "real problems." 

Well, I am black and I completely agree that it is a double standard. Does that make me self serving and disingenuous. No, because I sincerely do not see a clear line between who can say nigger or nigga and who can't say it. Or when it is appropriate to say and when it is inappropriate. 

 The use of the nigger and nigga is very much so a "real problem". Everyone has their own priorities and just because it does not align with what Chescaleigh views as a "real problem" does not make it any less important.

Nigger and nigga are words I choose not to use in my everyday vernacular. I also made a point to not say "The N-Word" because it reminds of "He who shall not be named" and how no one in the Harry Potter stories would actually say Voldemort, except for Harry. Hiding from the word doesn't make it less real and doesn't make it less hurtful or offensive. I believe hiding from the word just gives much more power to it than it deserves. (If you did not understand my Harry Potter reference, then you're probably only 3 years old. In which case, that you make you incredibly smart for being able to read this) 

Long story short, we shouldn't say it is only okay for black people to use the word nigger or nigga, then get pissed off and scream racism when a non-black person says it. Nigger and nigga is racist, no matter who says it. So lets just all stop saying it.

Chescaleigh's video is below, watch if you care to.