Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Syko Shadow and The N Word

This is a new blog series by contributing Thoughtful Gamers writer Syko Shadow called Syko Shadow and Friends, where each time I select a controversial and highly debated topic, give my piece on it, and hope to offer a different viewpoint than the ones that are more widely heard in the wild stupid world of politics and debate.

Today's topic is, as the title so succinctly suggests, the N word!

And by N word, I mean "nigger." (Chappelle's Show reference FTW)

Obviously, it's a bad word for a good reason. Since its inception, the word "nigger" has been associated with the oppression and racism towards black people that has defined the United States since before it became a nation. But for such a bad word, there sure is alot of debate over who can and cannot use the word, or its cousin "nigga" (or "nyugga" if you gettin' fancy), in modern society. Some believe that only black people themselves have any right to use any version of the word without fear of social backlash, some wish to see other races free to use the word to exercise free speech, and some want the word flat-out banned as it is a painful and vulgar word that nobody should WANT to use.

So where do I fit in all of this?

Simple: only black people should be allowed to use the N word. Only if the word is being used in the context of exposition or quotation, or in some other third-person context is it acceptable to be used by anyone else. In situations when someone uses the word to describe another person, if that person is not black then they have no reason to be using that word.

First, let's break down something that few (white) people understand: the difference between "nigger" and "nigga."

Syko Shadow's Dictionary:

Nigger: A derogatory term used to belittle and demean anyone it is directed towards by disparaging any African ancestry, or similarities to stereotypical characteristics of black people.

Example (when directed at a black person): This is a whites-only party, you goddamn nigger!
Example (when directed at non-black people): Why the fuck are you listening to rap music? You trying to be a nigger?

Synonyms: Coon, Jigaboo, Negro, Porch Monkey ("taken back" status pending, per one Randall Graves)

Nigga: A social term predominantly used in the ghetto by black people, that can be used to describe other black people, close friends, other people who live in the same neighborhood, or just anyone at all. More or less viewed as ghetto culture's version of "dude."

Example: What's good, my nigga?

Synonyms: Nyugga (only used when the desired result is to be fancy)

Believe it or not (talking to you, white people), while the two words are intertwined, and "nigga" does stem from the word "nigger," there is a difference between the two. They're used differently, spelled differently, and usually that's enough to classify them as different words. The trouble is, people outside the ghetto hear "nigga" and think "nigger."

That is the source of much of this debate, the so-called "double standard" that black people can use a word that white people can't, even though in reality we're talking about the wrong word. Dr. Laura Schlessinger made this mistake, and it made her look like a fucking retard (well, MORE of a fucking retard.). The word under debate is not "nigger," but "nigga." Black people don't call each other niggers, that just makes no sense. So when people like Dr. Laura bring up this fake double standard, they're fighting to use a word that nobody wants to hear. So congratulations on that, fuckers.

But to the point, why is it that only black people can use this word?

I grew up in Hollywood, Florida, a very ethnically and culturally diverse city that is, more or less, ghetto as fuck. I grew up in the ghetto, and I talk ghetto. I say "homie" just as people in Texas say "y'all."

But I am half-Latino, half-white, and I have never used the word "nigga". It's pretty much the only word in the ghetto vocabulary that I don't use. Not because I'm afraid to use it, or it's a conscious decision on my part not to use it, but simply because I do not feel any connection to the word at all. My black friends call me nigga all the time, so it's not a word that I don't spend any time around, I simply do not use it myself.

I just wanted to clarify that in order to provide an example to what I'm about to say:

DO NOT use the word "nigga" unless you know what it's like to be called a nigger!

I've been called a nigga, but never a nigger. Wanna know why? Because I am white and Latino, not black. That word doesn't belong to me, I'm not a part of that word's history.

Despite the different contexts in which "nigga" and "nigger" are used, they are fundamentally the same word. "Nigga" is simply a reappropriation of the word "nigger". The problem is "nigga" has been taken out of context by people who didn't grow up knowing the real meaning behind the original word, the social and emotional weight that comes with being called a nigger in broad fucking daylight. Stupid-ass kids in the suburbs listening to rap music use the word "nigga" like it's just another cool bit of slang, but it's not.

Recently, Justin Wong, a champion fighting game player, brought up this very subject on his Twitter:

"I guess I am not allowed to say "nigga" Is that bad? I use that word so much from East Coast... lol"

Click here for the source article.

Obviously, he doesn't understand what that word means, the history and culture behind it, or else he wouldn't even be using the word in the first place. Now, I can't stop him from using it in his own social circle (which he apparently does), but now he's made it public by posting it on Twitter. Using that word only around your friends is one thing, saying it in public is another. If I wanted, I could use the word "nigga" around my homies, and none of them would have a problem with it, because they know me and they know I'm ghetto. But if I used that word around random strangers, they might see me in a different way. In order to avoid confusion, it's just sensible to not fucking use that word! Or at the very least, not make it public! It may not seem fair to some people, but that's just how it is. It's just how one operates around other cultures, if they have any respect for that culture.

He also shows in that same post the very example of ignorance that people treat that word with. Justin Wong will never know what it's like to be black, he took a word he heard on a song and decided to use it without understanding its meaning.

To hear a much less rambly person with a viewpoint similar to mine, listen to the Forever Alone Podcast hosted by Hot Blooded Gaming and RipTen (all of which I highly recommend to gamers). In the first episode they discuss Justin Wong's Tweet, as well as the general use of the N word, with The HipHop Gamer, who pretty much schools everyone on the subject.


Tell magx01 and the rest of The Thoughtful Gamers what's on your mind!