N*ggas & Rednecks
Racism is partially based on generalizations. Like how White people can’t dance, Black people love fried chicken, and Chinese, Korean and Japanese people are all the same. Racism is the seed of ignorance, and everybody’s a little ignorant. Which brings me to this post’s topic. The use of the word nigger has more baggage than Dulles, L.A.X. and Hartsfield-Jackson combined, so I am in no way interested in delving into all of its cultural, historical and social layers. But Dictionary.com has a very impressive and succinct usage note attached to the definition of nigger, stating that it is one of the most offensive words in the English language when the speaker has malicious intent, but is also sometimes used among African-Americans in a neutral or familiar way. I would like to add one more usage note:
Also sometimes used by uppity negroes in reference to African-Americans who lack a certain couth and debonairness.
And I’m an uppity negro.
So usually, when I think about the use of the word nigger or nigga, I think of it in reference to someone familiar or someone I believe to be a setback to our race – either a friend or a Troll (oddly enough, it’s a commonly accepted contradiction). It’s all simply because I don’t have that many personal encounters with the word nigga being used against me in a malicious way.
I realized recently that a lot of White people use redneck or hick in a similar fashion. I visited a comedy show a couple of weekends ago. The comedians were all White, and one of them appeared on stage wearing a thrift store “Go Green” t-shirt, and rocked 5 o’clock shadow and non-prescription horn-rimmed glasses (you get the picture). His jokes were about how, “these hicks and rednecks are so stupid that they don’t even know that their ancestors are immigrants.” He went on about the Tea Party and all the White people in Alabama. In the middle of his bit, two White guys started booing. One guy wore a shirt with an Eagle on it and the other guy’s shirt had the American flag. Both of them had on trucker caps.
No. Not like this
So I thought to myself, “they kinda use rednecks how we use nigga.” I’m not saying that they’re the same, but they are used by their relative, racial affiliates similarly. But there is a difference everyone should be very aware of.
Black people can distinguish.
Yeah, Black people know the differences between different types of White people. So White people don’t walk around worried about stereotype threat, or if their teacher will think less of them before they even turn in an assignment, or if the police will harass them without legitimate cause, or if other races will deem them unworthy to hold a child in the womb, or if others will question their honesty with increased scrutiny, or if other races will unnecessarily fear them.
So these words that we use with our respective races to describe their lowest, most embarrassing and/or most damaging groups are quite different. They are different because the damage that each word does to a given race differs according all of the variables that history and our society have given us to manage. So as we continue to live in this so-called “post-racial” society, as we deal with people masking racism with bullshit euphemisms, and as our nation continues to desegregate, we must remember all of these differences while still having the ability to progress with the human race in harmony. I’m estimating that we reach 100% racial unity and equality by the year 3,000. By then everybody will just be tan in complexion, and everyone will live in one country because everything else will be submerged underwater from the ice caps melting and earthquakes breaking off pieces of continents like a Kit Kat bar or The Roots (you see what I did there). Then it won’t matter who drops the N-bomb, people will have already found other ways to categorize peoples arbitrarily. But until then,
this nigga sh*t is ours.