F the N word.

Last July the NAACP hosted a funeral for the N word, attempting to take it out of the American lexicon, and particularly the vernacular of African Americans. The most prominent civil rights organization hosted this funeral as a symbol to the rest of the world that we are no longer using this word. I understood the purpose, but I admit, when I saw Julian Bond walking down the aisle following an actual casket, I thought that the old heads had gone mad. I called my mother and asked what she thought. She applauded the movement, and scoffed at my indignance. because I understand the nuances of the word, and its place in history and in comtemporary culture. I have never arged that "nigga" is somehow better than "nigger", but frankly there is nothing wrong with black people creating their own rules, and it by no means gives white people the excuse to follow suit. We agreed to disagree.

So I continued my life saying, "Nigga please!" "Look at this nigga right here." Even randomly referring to white folks as niggas, cause they just acted so damn crazy and trifling. And I was cool with that. I debated Imus' use of nappy headed hos, and pretty much subscribed to the "I can say it, but you cant" I've even challenged my students to think about their use of nigga, among other words, and what that means about them and what it says to others. Not to encourage them to act one way or anotehr, but simply to understand and be able to participate in the discussion.. And my life was wonderful, until...

Until... while reading the "Who you callin a...." series from the July 2007 issue of Ebony Magazine, with my students one of them said.. "Ms. Shauri, I am a nigga. Nigga, nigger, whatever.. I am a nigger." I sat on the desk stunned. My mouth dropped open as quickly as my heart sank. I was looking into the eyes of children shaking their heads in agreement, who didnt understand. I heard myself saying nigga hundreds of times in such a casual way... thinking that there was no problem. Understanding the old folks who were offended, but thinking I was adept enough to handle the greatness of the word. And maybe I am... but I cannot contribute to a world that encourages children to not only use the word, but use it as an identifier.

I am a nigger.

Ima a nigger.
u r a nigger

i am a nigga.
I'm a nigger.
We are niggers.

It was my AHA moment. The moment where you know your life can never be the same. The minute when your soul has been changed, adn what was once okay is no longer acceptable. I hated myself in that moment for contributing to an epidemic. The epidemic of black people who misunderstand themselves. How can we expect them to rise above, when they see themselves as Niggers? Can they possibly beat the odds, when they see themselves as primarily the same way as those who enslaved, lynched, raped, beat, disenfrachised us? And as an educator, what am I to do about it?

I dont know. But I know whwat I can do about me... So I said Farewell to Nigger. Because a nigga is not who I see in any of us.

1 comment:

Susannah said...

Good post.

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