Should White People Say The N-Word?

Today I want to talk about something that is very controversial, even though I don’t think it should be.

 

My school has several societies that involve debating, in which one would have discussed the issue of white people saying the N-word. However, this debate topic was cancelled due to it’s controversy and potential of making people upset, which I think was not a valid excuse to cancel a debate for. Debates are supposed to be controversial and is supposed to tackle and even cause cognitive conflict in order to bring right social change and justice. Anyways, I felt this was an important topic to be discussed since a lot of white people and people from other ethnic minorities that aren’t black throw around and use the N-word, without thinking. People that I am even friends with.

I’m not just talking about people who use the word as a way to discrimate and belittle black people. I’m also talking about, particularly in this post, the people who use the word casually, with no bad intentions, and in songs. I mean, I’ve had so many arguments at parties with white boys about this issue and have heard of so many situations where white people will agree not to say the N-word but will hypocritical say it when there’s an absence of black people. That’s still racist.

 

The History 

But before I get into my own personal opinions, let’s recap on the history of the N-word. It started with the word ‘niger’ in Latin, meaning black. Other languages adopted and adapted from this latin word, for example “negro” became the word for a black person in English, but not derogatory, and became the colour black in Spanish and Portuguese.

However, it was in the 1800s when it became a derogative term to use as an ethnic slur. It was and is mainly used against black people but other ethnic minorities have been targeted too. It became heavily used amongst people in day to day lives, featured in literature and was a term that “put black people in their place”. See, black people were considered less evolved cognitively, psychologically and socially, deemed as stupid, aggressive, and inferior. White teachers taught the white students, who were the children to grow up to be the next generation, that black people are less evolved in this way. The media portrayed and represented them as dangerous people and here to serve white people, etc. Everything was very unjust, in terms of education, treatment and the criminal justice system. Some of these unjust qualities are still prominent today but more of that in a different post. The N-word holds these racist connotations. It was normal and socially acceptable at the time to use this word and was heavily used to insult black slaves during the slave trade.

But times are changing.

 

Yes, They Should Be Allowed

Well, it’s just a word. The N-word consists of racist connotations but by using it today in society, we can create new connotations, that are more positive. And when used casually, there are not bad intentions.

Black people use the word, which is seen as accepting, but when white people (and other ethnic minorities) it’s seen as racist. That’s a double standard.

The N-word is in songs, films, literature. We are surrounded by it in society so we should not be blocked from using a word that exists. Freedom of speech!

 

No, They Shouldn’t Be Allowed

White people have more power and privilege in society than ethnic minorities, in general.  The same way white people have had more power in the past. When a white person uses the  N-word, it’s almost reinforcing a time of extreme oppression for black people. The word was formed as a degrading, dehumanising and racist slur by white people. So the use of it by white people, in this day and age,  is like passing on the word to generations like the white teachers taught the future generation of white children that black people are inferior. Not the exact same level of racism but the same sort of principle.

Other ethnic minorities shouldn’t use it because it’s still a racist slur against black people and racism is one group being discriminative to a minority group.

 

So why are black people allowed to say it? Because it’s being used within the sub group of people, who are the target group for the word. The N-word was formed to be demeaning and discriminative to black people, referring to them as property of “the superiors” rather than people (especially during the slave trade). Therefore, it’s more acceptable for a black person to use it because it was a word to oppress them. It’s all about context!

Let me paint you a picture. If my best friend came up to me and said “Hey bitch!” that would be more socially acceptable than a random stranger coming up to me and saying “Hey bitch!” Although the word “bitch” is still deemed a rude word, much like the N-word, it’s more acceptable for my friend to use it to me than a stranger  because me and my friend are on the same level within a subgroup, which is friendship. Me and the stranger are not within the same subgroup. Same with black people. It’s more socially acceptable for the N-word to be used amongst black people because they’re in the same subgroup, which is the black community.

And it is a double standard. Deal with it. A lot of things are and for good reason.

 

But what about songs?

click above for article on Kendrick Lamar calling out white fan for the N-word

Whether you feel that fate is leading your lives or God has a plan for you, you are responsible for your actions. Full stop. There’s this thing called locus of control, which is the extent to which people believe they are in control of their lives. And there’s two types. High internal locus of control, where people take responsibility for their actions and are more resistant to social influence, and high external locus of control, where people have fatalistic, ‘luck’ dependant attitudes and are not as resistant to social influence. In this situation, you need to have a higher internal locus of control. Just because Kendrick Lamar or Kanye West wrote a song that has the N-word in it, does not mean you can blurt it out just because “it’s in the song”. You have a responsibility to not say it. That’s if you have morals. And it’s not difficult either. Just don’t say it.

 

Also, as a side note: I’ve heard white people argue with the point that “it’s racist to use the term “cracker” against white people if they’re not allowed to say the N-word.” First of all, reverse racism doesn’t exist. Second of all, “cracker” was created as a word to empower white people as it represented the sound the whips made when beating black slaves. It was made to empower white people not dehumanise them.

 

My Opinion

Should people, who aren’t black, say the N-word. My answer: no.

It’s a racial slur, with racist connotations and history that it still holds, even in this modern day and age. I understand that it can make people feel uncomfortable, which is also why I think the word should be limited in use amongst black people but I think it’s okay for them to use it.

It used to be socially acceptable (in primarily white societies) in the past decades but as a society, now, we’re moving on to more equality and equity. 

That all being said, I strongly believe in freedom of speech. Say what you want. But with that, be prepared for the consequences of your actions (consequences like me arguing with you at a party XD ). And think before you say things. We need to minimise the amount of discrimination and the use of demeaning words like the N-word as well as, of course, staying woke. You can’t really afford to be ignorant right now so take responsibility and educate yourself on issues and controversial debates like this one!

 

What are your opinions?

 

-Shay

49 thoughts on “Should White People Say The N-Word?

  1. Starrcreative says:

    I live on the prairies in Canada and to be honest, I’ve never in my entire life heard the word spoken by anyone here but I can’t imagine it doesn’t feels good to be called a name you associate with a demeaning reference and it’s certainly easier to adjust ones language than to expect someone to adjust how they feel about being called a derogatory name so I can’t imagine why someone would choose to use that word knowing it is demeaning and hurtful to others. Why someone would want to use it themselves when it is something they don’t appreciate being spoken by others confuses me still but then letting a friend call you a B… confuses me LOL My girlfriends ever called me that I’d never speak to them again because my brain can’t accept that the term is meant to reference anything other than the ultimate insult but for younger people like you say – its kind of an endearment between people who have a defined relationship so has a different meaning in that context. Language is so interesting but confusing and in many cases hurtful so I think its always best to avoid language that might be offensive to others – its easy to do and there really isn’t a good reason not to.

    Like

  2. Lander7 says:

    You asked — SHOULD WHITE PEOPLE SAY THE N-WORD?

    My response — Yes. As a word, it must be used when needed to convey meaning. All words are designed this way and can only be replaced by a word that has the exact same meaning such as the substitute word “n-word”.

    You stated — “However, this debate topic was canceled due to its controversy and potential of making people upset, which I think was not a valid excuse to cancel a debate for.”

    My response – Try one on one conversations with those who want the conversation to end. If they can’t get anywhere with you one on one then they were right to cancel it. If you can get through to them you will then have an opportunity to restart the conversation with them on your side.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lander7 says:

    You stated — “I’ve had so many arguments at parties with white boys about this issue”

    My response — Is it possible that the parties you go to have people in it that are socially below your level of maturity? Could it be that the reason you are arguing with them is that you have outgrown them but refuse to move on?

    I go to parties but no one uses words that are derogatory to other races.

    Just a thought

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shay says:

      The parties I go to are with people my age but I can agree with you that some of them are immature. And I’m not gonna “move on” from people doing wrong things because they’re below “my level of maturity”. They can’t walk away knowing that saying derogatory words is okay. If people simply just “moved on” from immature people, there would be a continuous cycle of immaturity and discrimination and ignorance. And they were saying it because the word were in songs. Not every party is the same as the ones you go to.

      Like

      • Lander7 says:

        You stated — “And they were saying it because the word were in songs. ”

        My response — Is this your way of defending their behavior? Is this a good excuse for them to do it since you used it in explanation to me?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Shay says:

        I’m not defending them. I was just explaining that they weren’t randomly yelling these derogatory words. It was because it was in a song, which I don’t think is okay to copy but they did. I’m just specifying. In no way did I ever say that it’s a good excuse for them to say it. I even mentioned in my post that even if it’s in a song, you shouldn’t say it.

        Like

      • Lander7 says:

        You stated — “it doesn’t need to conveyed by people because it has a negative racist meaning”

        My response — Then why not have a school debate on whether songs like that are banned publically by a united student front?

        That I am sure the school would allow.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Lander7 says:

    You stated – “So why are black people allowed to say it? “

    My response – By allowed I think you mean, “Can say without repercussions”. If we agree this is what “allowed” is then I would say black people are not allowed. They can’t say it at work, in a school to teachers or administrators. They can’t say it in a professional environment without risk of job loss.

    I would agree that someone in entertainment can use it in certain environments like music videos. Everyone pays a price for using this word in the wrong environment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shay says:

      It’s all about context, really, as I said. And I guess it’s “more allowed” if that makes sense. It’s more acceptable and there are less repercussions. And there’s a lot of things you can’t say at work, in a school to teachers or administrators, which people can say.

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      • Lander7 says:

        You stated — “And there’s a lot of things you can’t say at work, in a school to teachers or administrators, which people can say.”

        My response — Then we agree it is not allowed since it is not said, just like any other banned word.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Shay says:

        Of course it shouldn’t be allowed in those places, I do agree with you on that. It’s because it’s a swear word and will cause discomfort, etc. AGAIN, I’m not saying it’s a good word to say, I’m just saying that it’s more acceptable amongst the black community in the right situations.

        Like

      • Lander7 says:

        You stated — “I’m just saying that it’s more acceptable amongst the black community in the right situations.”

        My response — There is no literal black community but there is a very real presence in churches in large numbers of black people and they would disagree with you in the use of the word.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Lander7 says:

    You stated — “Therefore, it’s more acceptable for a black person to use it because it was a word to oppress them.”

    My Q — So is the word then uplifting to black people when used by a black person? Is it a positive word for black youth and self-esteem? Is it said to show pride for black people?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shay says:

      Once again, as I said, it’s all about context. Some black people do claim to use the word to empower them or to reclaim the word. I think of it like this: if you have a flaw you’re insecure about eg body image issues, it’s okay to make self deprecating jokes about it because it’s you’re insecurities but it’s not okay for someone else to make the same joke about it because it’s not their insecurity. Now apply that to your question if you can.

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  6. Lander7 says:

    You stated — “Let me paint you a picture. If my best friend came up to me and said “Hey bitch!” that would be more socially acceptable than a random stranger coming up to me and saying “Hey bitch!” ”

    My response — Can your friend say this to you in front of your child? Can they say this to you while at work? Is it really acceptable or does it have to be regulated because it isn’t?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shay says:

      That’s not my point. I’m not saying the n word is a good word that can be openly used, I’m saying certain groups of people shouldn’t use it. Of course my friend wouldn’t say hey bitch to me in front of a child, the same way a black person wouldn’t and shouldn’t say the n word in front of a child. That’s besides my point and more about how you should behave in society.

      Like

      • Lander7 says:

        You stated — “That’s not my point. I’m not saying the n word is a good word that can be openly used”

        My response — But it is my point in respect to your argument because it is a bad word.

        Thus the need to hide it.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Okonkwo Jackson says:

    Definitely a hard no in today’s society. The word may have lost some of its original power, but not all of it. It can still be used to demean, in a way that is socially understood by most if not all African Americans. To me it’s a matter of respect, and a shared understanding of the not so long ago history of the word. As long as it commonly understood to be a way to demean or offend black folks, then do black people a favor and don’t use it. There are parallels with any other potentially offensive word, e.g. like the b word. I can’t just blurt that out to a female, even if she may call her self and her close friends that word. Maybe in the future society will change/evolve to the point where the word loses its offensive context… But till then, nah.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shay says:

      Yeah exactly! It’s about respect too not just not being racist. It’s disrespectful to know something is bad and offensive to say but say it anyway. And maybe society will evolve in that way and honestly, that would be interesting to see, but as you said, no until then.

      Like

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