Who Said Nigga?

Source: theodysseyonline.com

The following article contains differing opinions on the controversial topic of the usage of the word “nigga.” The purpose of this article is not to determine who does or does not have the right to use the N-word. Rather, the intention is to showcase the perspectives coming from students of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds so that we can better understand why the N-word is still commonly used today, as well as understand the multiple connotations of the word itself.

Roses are red, Trey Songz is Trigga, if you’re not Black, don’t say nigga

When asked whether it is acceptable for certain groups of people to use the N-word, a few students responded that only Black people have the right to do so. They explained that this is because the use of the N-word by Black people is a way of changing its meaning from bad, to good. However, it is unacceptable for people of other ethnicities to do so because, in the words of Latina Viviana Gutierrez ’21, “They will never know what it is to live the black experience,” and therefore do not have the authority to reclaim a word whose original meaning they could never have understood. One anonymous Caucasian male student explained that, because of the fact that the N-word has been used so often in the past by white people in a derogatory manner, they must be aware that, “using it in a way that’s not meant to be derogatory, even if you say that it’s not meant to be derogatory, there’s a good chance it’s still going to be received that way.” He also went on to say that since he is Caucasian, he feels as if he is not in a position to dictate whether or not he or others should be allowed to use the N-word, because the issue cannot affect or apply to him personally.

Roses are red, sunflowers are bigga, it don’t matter if you’re black, no one should say nigga

When asked the same question, other students responded that, due to the N-word’s oppressive history, it is best for all people to steer clear of its usage. One Black student, Ifela Hayes ’19, said, “If you know the background of the N-word, you shouldn’t try to use it in a friendly way…you can’t just change the context of a word that was used for hate.” She went on to say that if you want to greet her in a friendly way, simply saying her name would be sufficient, rather than using such a derogatory term to do so. During a few of the interviews conducted by The Pacifican, it was pointed out that, since pop culture often stems from parts of black culture, many people feel the need to say the N-word so that they can seem cool or trendy. In the words of an anonymous Indian male student, “For some people, the word still has a bad connotation to it, so if we avoid using it at all… we won’t hurt anyone’s feelings.” When asked whether it was more acceptable for certain people to use the N-word, rather than others, he responded, “It’s equally bad for all people because at the end of the day, we’re all equals, so we should all treat each other the same.” Therefore, many students believe that there is no correct way to use the N-word, and that we should avoid its usage altogether in order to keep the peace.

Roses are red, Kanye West wrote Gold Digga, It’s all acceptable, anyone can say nigga

Another popular opinion among students is that it should be acceptable for all people, no matter their ethnicity, to use the N-word, as long as it is used in the right context. Surprisingly, the majority of students who presented this opinion were non-Black students. One anonymous Latina freshman said that she does not understand why some Black people get offended when people of other ethnicities use N-word. However, in order to avoid conflict, she thinks that it is acceptable to use it only when there are no Black people present, or when singing the lyrics to a song in which it is used. Another Latina freshman said, when referring to the usage of the N-word by non-Black students, “I feel like a person should ask if it’s alright to use it,” in order to avoid offending anyone. One female Filipino-Hawaiian student said that, in the right context, its usage can be condoned. She also said, however, that if she heard it being used to bully someone or purposely hurt them, she would stand up for the student and let the harasser know that what they are doing is wrong. Therefore, it seems as if the main reason for abstinence from using the N-word is to avoid conflict with those who may be offended by it.

Universal Conclusions

Although it seems at first glance that these arguments and perspectives seem to greatly differ from one another, they all hold one key element in common. This key element is that the N-word should never be used to purposely hurt someone. In addition, they all contain the understanding that, even if your intention is not to offend someone, the use of the N-word has great potential to do so, regardless of intent. No matter what your stance on the use of the N-word, hurtful rhetoric has no place on Pacific’s campus and should have no place in the minds of students anywhere. As young adults pursuing higher education, we should all work to shed hateful biases that stem from ignorance and treat all other students with respect.

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Scarlett Green

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