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The use of nigger or nigga in present day language Essay

 

The relationship between the speaker and to whom he or she is speaking to, should definitely be taken into account when evaluating if this usage is hateful or offensive. Randall Kennedy addresses the idea of race and the intention of the speaker, in his book, Nigger, when he says, “There is nothing necessarily wrong with a white person saying “nigger,” just as there is nothing necessarily wrong with a black person saying it. What should matter is the context in which the word is spoken-the speaker’s aims, effects, alternatives” (51).

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When controversy does arise over the issue of the words nigger or nigga, young adults who actually use the terms do not identify with the idea of it being a racial slur because expressing racism and prejudice is the last thing on their minds when they are saying these slang terms in normal conversations with friends. On the opposite end of the argument are those people who consider nigger in any form to be a racial slur, regardless of the manner in which it is spoken. The people against its use firmly believe that nigger should be struck from the English language and all kinds of slang for reasons stemming from racism.

They argue that saying nigger or nigga is equivalent to saying “kike,” “chink,” or “gook,” which are other racial slurs that are not openly spoken, but would certainly cause tensions if they were voiced. However, one could dispute this assertion by stating that “kike”, “chink”, and “gook” are not used in everyday language and infused into our culture the way nigga continues to be, and for that reason, the two ideas cannot be compared. The main reason why nigger is thought to be intolerable is because it has such a dreadful history and is considered in some circles to be the ultimate symbol of hate.

Every utterance of the word is an awful reminder of the tragic days of enslavement when whites purposely called black people “niggers” to degrade them and lower their status. This idea is addressed by Lena Williams, in her book, It’s the Little Things, Everyday Interactions That Anger, Annoy, and Divide the Races, when she says, “They know that by calling blacks “nigger” they strip us of our humanity and jar our collective memories, reminding us of days not so long ago when all of us were niggers in their eyes” (198).

People against this word’s existence in mainstream America believe it has too much negative history. It is understandable how it would stir up painful memories and signal racism but then why have African Americans included the term so often in their everyday speech that it has become common to hear it being spoken. It seems a bit contradictory when a person hears about the anguish caused by the mere utterance of nigger, but then turns around to find a group of young African Americans on the street, using the word easily in friendly conversation without a second thought.

If black people are indeed hurt by the mention of nigger, then they should initiate the change in American slang and cease to use the word themselves. One could then go on to argue that African Americans do not use the term in a hateful way, and that they are using the word loosely among friends. Furthermore, this supports the argument that the definition of nigger or nigga is indeed gradually changing and taking on a connotative meaning and moving away from its sad and degrading denotative meaning.

Many white people in the middle of this controversy have begun to talk about separating and defining the versions of the word and have also questioned the fact that African Americans use the terms so freely. Kennedy addresses the issue of nigger vs. nigga when he states that there are currently some Americans who “insist upon distinguishing nigger-which they see as exclusively an insult-from nigga, which they view as a term capable of signaling friendly salutation” (5). The idea is that only the spelling has changed but each word in today’s society has taken on its own meaning.

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It would be frowned upon if a white teenager was to say, “Hey you, nigger,” but if he said, “How’s it going, my nigga? ” which is in part how nigga is used among friends of the younger generations, it should be acceptable and overlooked. People in the middle believe that it is okay to use this slang term as long as it is spoken privately among close friends and not in the public view. Another viewpoint, which causes uncertainty on this issue, is that while black Americans are saying the word is terrible and should not be spoken, they are using the word freely and publicly.

This view is expressed by one lady that was interviewed by Williams, when she wonders, “If blacks don’t want whites to use the word, why are they putting it out there in the mainstream popular culture? ” (199). African American’s use of nigger and at the same time, the disapproval of the word by black people are viewed as contradictory, therefore causing confusion on what is indeed inappropriate or acceptable language. The ever-changing parlance of young adults can be heard commonly in popular culture but as time progresses certain slang terms will come into use that may cause a few eyebrows to be raised.

It is likely that the young generations of people who use or hear these questionable words will fail to see a problem with their word choice but the older generations may not be as understanding. The disagreements and misunderstandings occur when people of the older generations and even some from the younger generations do not recognize that it is only a slang term spoken on the streets, among friends, to show friendship, respect, or as a pronoun to refer to other people.

The casual use of nigger or nigga should not be taken offensively as long as the speaker is not using it in a racist manner and those people that are in opposition should understand that the young adults, who do use this term, are doing so with no ill intent. I believe that if this word is really so demeaning, African Americans should also refrain from using this speech, instead of using it so often and freely and putting it out there for the public, in their song lyrics.

I also think that the use or overuse of this word may be able to wipe away the uncomfortable implications of the past and bring on a new meaning, which would solely be a term of endearment and camaraderie. Not only is this a touchy subject for young adults of my age group, but it also sparks an interest because the word is so readily used on the streets, and especially in the hip hop culture and much of the music that comes out of this scene.

It seems like people of my generation may share the same view; that it is acceptable and not considered hate speech as long as there are no racist intentions and spoken among friends. Not only is this a touchy subject for young adults of my age group, but it also sparks an interest because the word is so readily used on the streets, and especially in the hip hop culture and much of the music that comes out of this scene. which is widely marketed to the public.

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The use of nigger or nigga in present day language Essay
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  The relationship between the speaker and to whom he or she is speaking to, should definitely be taken into account when evaluating if this usage is hateful or offensive. Randall Kennedy addresses the idea of race and the intention of the speaker, in his book, Nigger, when he says, "There is nothing necessarily wrong with a white person saying "nigger," just as there is nothing necessarily wrong with a black person saying it. What should matter is the context in which the word is spoken
2017-12-12 04:58:27
The use of nigger or nigga in present day language Essay
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