I found myself thinking this as I listened yet again to the ongoing debate about the use of the n-word.

During his show last week, Bill Maher, host of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” made reference to the n-word when his guest, Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, said he’d love to have Maher “work in the fields” with him. Using the opportunity for a quick comeback meant to be funny, Maher returned with, “Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house nigger.” Maher, who is caucasian, used the word in reference to himself, not toward an African-American. However, as we all know, that word has a very ugly history with Blacks. 

Bill Maher

 So is it OK for a White person to say nigger in reference to themselves? 

Is it fair for Blacks to be offended even by the mention of the word if the reference wasn’t directed toward them? 

Before you answer those questions, consider this: Just this week, audio of a Flint, Michigan, Land Bank employee was released referring to Blacks as “niggers.” Phil Stair said, “Flint has the same problems as Detroit, fu*#ing niggers don’t pay their bills; believe me, I deal with them. They just don’t pay their bills.”

It is quite fair to say that the ugliness of that word is still as evident in the present as it was in the past, because people continue to use the disparaging word in reference to Blacks.

Now answer those two questions I asked earlier and this one: is it OK for Blacks to use the word in reference to each other?

I’ve asked myself all three of those questions for years, and if I am honest, my opinion has changed over the years. Most recently (like for the past 20 years) my responses have generally been the same: the word shouldn’t be used by anyone.

Nigger, nigga or any other deviation of the word is offensive — period. We should not be comfortable with anyone using the word. Some people within the Black community use the word as a term of endearment to someone they are cool with or genuinely like. It is not uncommon to hear one Black man say to another, “What’s up my nigga,” or “That’s my nigga.”

Sadly, some women in the Black community also use it in reference to other women as well as their male counterparts. 

The issue I have with use of the word specifically in the Black community is it sends the wrong message to society that the word is OK. It is also a blatant double standard. It is not fair for Blacks and other minorities to use the word as a term of endearment yet get offended when a White person calls us a nigger. Some Blacks would argue that the “er” at the end of the world has a racist connotation, but the “ga” at the end of the word is used affectionately in the Black community. My response to those Blacks is usually something like, “If a Caucasian person called you a nigger or a nigga, you would be offended by both, because it came out of a white person’s mouth. So why perpetuate a stereotype and call a fellow Black person the n-word?” 

African-Americans have to be more deliberate about our expectations for the way we treat ourselves and the way we want others to treat us. We cannot use a derogatory word as a term of endearment yet get pissed off when someone of another color calls us the n-word. 

Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe most white people who refer to Black people as niggers or niggas have some level of racism or a superiority complex within them. But I also think Black people who use the words toward other Blacks have a level of ignorance or a disregard for our history within them. 

I won’t lie, I have said the word when I would sing along to rap songs, and I also recall instances where I very sparingly used the word when I was a lot younger and far less wise. But when I knew better, I did better, abolishing the word altogether. I have incredibly educated, professional male and female friends today whose opinions differ from mine, and they continue to use the n-word as a term of endearment. 

As far as Bill Maher and Phil Stair’s use of the word nigger, I have two different perspectives. 

Stair’s reference was deliberately meant to alienate and insult Black people. Maher’s comment was a joke (albeit, an inappropriate one) about himself. I don’t take offense to Maher’s use of the word, because I choose to look at the word in its expansive description: a person who is economically, politically or socially disenfranchised.

In the greater definition of the word nigger, it’s not exclusive to Blacks, but rather anyone who is poor or alienated. But because it is primarily used to describe Blacks and even poor whites and others — and most always used in an insulting manner — it is best to abandon the word and its variations altogether. Regardless of the definitions, intent is what prevails, and the word is most always used by the greater community in a disparaging and disrespectful manner.

For that reason and the others I mentioned, we should all erase the word out of our vocabularies.

 http://www.indianapolisrecorder.com/opinion/article_18acccca-4bba-11e7-8305-3f009ffcfc23.html

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