Nigger isn't racist.
Language has always been up for interpretation. And I have been told that what I write, or what anyone may write may be misinterpreted. The answer for this for many English teachers is to faithfully stick to what is generally recognized as the proper and official way. I disagree. If someone decides that he will receive one message from a document, regardless of what is written, or how he writes it, that someone will receive the message he is determined to receive. Given that, I think that the Job of the writer is to guess how best his message can be received. Then that writer should follow his own guess to his best abilities. Countless times have writers used unpopular or unorthodox forms of writing and ended up creating a masterpiece. An observer could gather many things from the result of this guess and execution of this guess. Perhaps the writer would write works that rivaled Shakespeare and wrote them in such a way so as to fail miserably. Or a writer could develop a simple Zen like message and deliver it in an especially pleasing way. One way the English teacher would probably say that if only they used proper paragraphs they would have succeeded while in the 2nd case they would say that the writer just got lucky.
Despite many people who want English to remain formal looking Written and spoken, if not all communication, are art forms. And like art forms they cannot be limited by rules and restrictions. Any time you choose to replace words like Damn with Darn you are defacing the artists’ original intentions. And while, as I pointed out earlier, all works of literature are up for interpretation. I believe that censoring these artists’ works would not only obscure their intended message, but be disrespectful to the artists themselves.
American language has been very fickle. Common use of slang has been giving old words new meaning; each may or may not be specific to context. Each may be interpreted on a totally unique level. I imagine that professional writers may be under a lot of pressure that their message may not be receipted well if they don’t make a very good guess as to what is popular in that day and age. I made this long introduction so that I may have just touched people in that words may have deeper meanings and dimensions than those that immediately leap to mind. And now for a controversial statement.
The word nigger is not racist. It once was. Its meaning used to be very clear. However now it is no longer a racist word. Now whether a word is racist or not has to do with the context of the word used. I think that nigger is unique in that while all the other taboo words ever used, including fuck, have lost kick due to over-usage, nigger has actually grown more powerful. Only when used by whites though. How the word has been developing in the last 50-100 years has been very interesting and important. I am 16 years old, so I can only speak from experience here. But when I say the word nigger out loud I have deep fear that someone will mistake me for being racist. I hate all humans equally, and do not select a people simply by skin color. However between white people and black people there have been developing cultures which could be said to be black, but aren’t exactly that way any more. That is another story.
I think that the reason that I have such a fear is that since racism was so unchecked that the only solution was a total lockdown of all occurrences of suspected racism everywhere. Another problem stems from this, that non-white people can take advantage of their color and claim racism, and may get away with it because if we need to have consistency and that consistency is going to lean towards the elimination of all racial discrimination. A problem with this however is that white American children have had Nigger stricken from their vocabulary. When something is removed from common society the use of it or it occurring seems unnatural. It is the same effect with sex. Talking about your parents having sex with your parents may seem unnatural, or talking about Bondage fetishes with your teacher seems unnatural and inappropriate. This is just because it isn’t “done” in society. So it seems inappropriate for a white man to say Nigger. It is unnatural to hear and uneasy when said. Another thing is that the white culture tends to annunciate the word. So it comes out niGrr. The black culture or Ebonics may pronounce it nigga. This sounds softer and rolls off the tongue. Also many blacks, not all, have a distinctly different voice tone. Because of this, combined with them commonly being allowed to say nigger without question or fear of malice has made it so that black people can say nigger and white people can’t. Another answer to this has been that a person can make fun of his own group. A Jewish person can make fun of Jews, and a black person can make fun of blacks. A person who has grown up “seeing” color may identify with a member of their group. A person who has grown up “color-blind” may also follow the same patterns of identifying with a group but I think this has more to do with the taboos they’ve learned growing up.
I have asked groups more than once what nigger means to them. Many find it offensive but may I ask why? I could see nigger being offensive if someone said to me, “He can’t solve that system of equations because she’s just some stupid Nigger!” However think, the sentence attached the word Stupid to it. Using nigger like that only allows the user to claim the insulted is part of a known group. The real insult is the word stupid. Most teenaged black kids only find Nigger offensive because the world told them it was a bad word. The world has taught people to feel offended when that word is used. While black teenagers living today may have been discriminated against, none have been slaves. The point is that I don’t think that people should feel offended by a word simply for the sake of being offended. I think that thinking that is okay because a lot of people don’t even realize why they are offended by the word. They blindly follow the directing of the public and their parents. I cannot magically provide a solution, as much as I would like to. I can only speak and hope to be heard.
I don’t know if I am right. I don’t claim to know everything and I am not trying to say smart things just to sound smart. I speak my mind because I hope for change. All of this is highly controversial and my writings are just opinions.