What it means to be a NIGGER

A few weeks back as I sat and watched the red carpet section of the Grammy’s I saw my fellow Virgo grace the camera with his wife donning a t-shirt that said “NIGGER”. Wait a minute rewind that back, I saw Nasir Jones better known as “Nas” and a group of supporters of different ethnicities in “NIGGER” Fashion. This is clearly a sign that the times have changed, television has become so liberal, when I was a child they would have blurred out the image at minimum to say the least. Nas was interviewed about his “message”, there were no censors over the word and things went relatively normal. I mentioned earlier that Nas is a Virgo because they are the thinkers of the zodiac and very strategic in their movements, so maybe Nas is titling his album NIGGER and grappling after the publicity that it is causing so that we can have intelligent discourses like the one we are about to have.

Wait one second, before you lose interest in fear that I am about take you on a historical voyage enduring the plight of black people and the socialization of the term Nigger and how we need to accept it to empower ourselves, I promise you I will not. This is not the typical discussion of whether this is a term of endearment or mental slavery. But to understand what the concept of the term nigger we must first look to one of the great writers of the Harlem Renaissance, James Baldwin.

Baldwin says, “What white people have to do is try to find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place. Because I’m not a nigger, I’m a man! But if you think I’m a nigger it means you need it. If I’m not the nigger here and you, the white people invented him then you’ve got to find out why?”

Baldwin paints us such a vivid picture when he speaks about the system needing a nigger. You see the term nigger is about an institutionalized inferiority complex. The system, those proponents of white supremacy need a nigger to belittle, they need a nigger to make themselves feel better than another group of people because they lack self-esteem. The nigger is needed in order to perpetuate systems of control, a hierarchy within this great land from sea to shining sea. Unfortunately today the term nigger has become synonymous with black people. However this is not the case, this is not the fate of black people; this has been the position of various ethnic groups in America. I will chronicle the stories of three niggers who have been bastardized by a system of oppression and blatant racism in this country without ever painting the picture of a black face!

If you are of Middle Eastern decent, or even look like you could possibly be of the Islamic faith after 9/11, I regret to inform you but the United States has declared you a NIGGER! Your rights were stripped from you; you became the victims of police brutality, random search and seizures, and you are always pulled aside at the airport for more questioning. Why is this; because you fit the “description”, you look suspicious? But none of this is true; it is merely the pigment of your skin and the religious affiliation that you are suspected of practicing which garners you such attention. You watch your faith and belief system ridiculed daily on television, you have become the butt of all jokes. You’re fearful when your children go to school because other children will torment them; forgive them for they know not what they do. You came to this country with hopes of reaching the American dream however you are now living the American Nightmare! The ultimate insult is no longer to be black but it is to be Muslim. Your beautiful, peaceful culture has been tainted by slander; you are now judged by the few who make it tough for the many. Welcome!

Rewind the clocks back before the Civil Rights Era, after the Red Scare, where if you were communist you were a nigger. No, I am speaking of World War II, a defining moment in this country’s history where we joined forces with our allies overseas and toppled the Axis Powers who viciously slaughtered those of the Jewish faith and anyone else in their quest for world domination. Let us look into our backyard at today’s most successful minority, looked upon as intelligent, reserved, model citizens of this great nation; the Asian. Yes in 1942 here in America the Japanese were considered NIGGERS! Stripped of their land, businesses, and personal possessions, some 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced into relocation centers into the interior lands of this country. Placed in prison camps with little to no food to eat and cramped living quarters for large families were just some of the conditions the Japanese had to experience. Propaganda spread through the media about the “Japs” as they were called, “good riddance to the spy’s and traitors”. These were some of the messages about the people who had only a few years prior been trying to assimilate into American culture. They too were in search of the roads paved of gold people from other countries associate with our great America. White farmers benefited with the Japanese farmers gone, they were then able to take over their profit share and make more revenue for themselves. Even the Supreme Court of the United States permitted this racist behavior holding that this exclusion did not violate the constitution arguing “it is permissible to curtail the civil rights of a racial group when there is a “pressing public necessity.” So much for Justice!

Who discovered America? Oh yes I remember we have a beautiful holiday in this country named after none other than America’s most beautiful thief, rapist, and oppressor among other names. Yes I am speaking of Columbus, when we discuss the concept of the nigger we have to speak about our beloved Columbus. You see the Indian; wait a minute what am I saying, Native American is the correct term because this is their native land. When we think of all the horrific things done to black people during chattel slavery our bodies quiver with fear. However, we forget that the Native American watched his woman be raped, and his family die from sickness brought by the Europeans. He watched his people become addicted to substances, his name was changed, and not just his name but also his ethnicity. To this day we call Native Americans Indians because of a mistake that an idiot made. We keep this mistake going forth, Native Americans call themselves Indians even; similar to how African Americans call themselves Nigger, they have embraced the term. Last but certainly not least the Native American was robbed of his land and certainly his culture. The history that they created prior to imperialism has long been erased and they are forced to live on reservations of land and lay dependent on the powers that be. America’s first experimentation with this Nigger concept was and is still in fact the Native American!

So many Niggers over the years, and I use this term loosely for this piece in hopes to articulate the construction of an underclass. That is what it is to be a nigger. Similar to the Untouchables in India, the term nigger is rooted in not only a need for superiority but a mindset entrenched in socio-economic slavery. The ability to legally strip people of the inalienable rights that our Constitution provides for them speaks not only to a power struggle but a constant reminder of who the boss is and what can happen if the system was ever to be questioned. The term Nigger, the concentration camps, the nooses, all of these symbols are objectifiable and measurable elements of what it means to be inferior but deeper than inferiority one must know their place. You see in 2050 the white majority will actually be the minority yet they need not worry because the hegemony and institutionalized racism have made all of the niggers fearful and afraid to jolt the status quo. Nigger is a term of fear; it’s a bastardizing moment in an ethnicities history that emotionally, physically, and mentally scars the people. This fear that is instilled takes over the mind yet keeps the body, the nigger is still used for their talents but their mind will never forget that moment and how much they never want to experience such a moment again.

Malcolm X once said “If you are a citizen, why do you have to fight for your civil rights, if you’re fighting for your civil rights that means you’re not a citizen”. Niggers are not citizens, at least for the time in which they are apart of the social construct of the term. That is why the Supreme Court allowed the Japanese to be placed in internment camps, that is why we allow our media and public officials of the law to bastardize the Islamic faith. That is why Native Americans are still relegated to plots of land on reservations in a country that they once owned and were illegally dispossessed of this land. So next time you hear the term NIGGER, or you go out and purchase the upcoming album NIGGER by Nas, be aware that this term has nothing to do with a specific group of people and more to do with a concept of how to control different groups of people. How to make one fearful, and how to make another group feel superior thus always limiting the power of one and expanding upon the power of the other.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “NEW NAS ALBUM COVER”

  1. what it means to be a NIGGER « She muses Says:

    […] by jodietonita on June 1, 2008 reposted from Notes of This Native […]

  2. jodietonita Says:

    apologies for the delay; been out of town and offline…

    I really appreciated your article… thus the repost. I just read this article ( seems Imus has stepped in it again. I mention that because what we say or don’t say is not the issue. If we focus on politically correct language and it’s usage we miss the deeper understanding of the issues that surround racial justice and racial healing that enable us to move the ball. Surface talk about ‘is it ok to say nigger or not’ or ‘who is allowed to say it’ does not get us anywhere. I appreciate your systemic analysis and the courage to look deeper into why we use this language in the first place and the role it serves.

    My late grandfather… the son of tenant farmers from Romania, who immigrated to Canada for a better life and to escape systemic poverty, had a dog when I was a young kid. A black dog. You guessed it; his name was nigger. The meaning of that makes me cringe. But it’s real… it’s true. And the only way through is to ask… wtf was that about. really…

    Thanks for the post. I really appreciate your voice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: