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Thank you for thoughtfully engaging.

But I think you missed the thrust of my piece.

This piece isn’t about trying to render the word neutral, or repurposing it for other uses. I’m also not using it to insult the president.

In short, this piece is about two things: 1) white projection and 2) the effects of white projection.

With regard to 1), the n-word is a product of whiteness, and therefore it owes its existence to whiteness and not blackness. In calling the president and his followers this term, I was attempting to show how this happens in real life and in concrete ways. It may always be used as a slur toward someone like me, but the problem is that I’m not the one who exhibits these qualities as much as those who coined the term. And how could I? I’m not the originator of the term. Just like others can’t take credit — good, bad, or otherwise — for my writing, I find it equally difficult to take credit for a term that wasn’t of my own invention. Your perspective is reasonable, but I’m not sure if that was my point.

With 2), my point was that, even if I called the president and his followers that term, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter — in large part because I agree with what you said about the nature of the term as a slur: the term was custom-fitted toward black people. That remains to be the case, which is why I said at the end, black folk don’t get to not be niggers. Others might, but not black people. So you’re right: the term can’t be used as an insult to white people — even as it perfectly describes many of them. Whiteness made the term, so it actually is the n-word; but because the term was custom made for a group of other people, it can never be the n-word.

If this sounds contradictory, it is. But that contradiction isn’t of my own making: it’s the nature of white supremacy to create and then maintain contradictions in order to keep power.

Whiteness calls a land it stole “its own.”

Whiteness advocated for freedom while keeping people in perpetual bondage.

Whiteness will advocate for cops when a black person is shot, but will leave a black cop out to dry when a white woman is shot.

Whiteness wants 2nd amendment rights, until philando Castile dies. And then we hear nothing.

Whiteness falls in love with a white man because he gives it ratings or votes, and then when he shows people who he really is, whiteness wants to denounce it.

Every day, I live in the contradictions of whiteness. So I think my piece was trying to articulate that as well.

Thank you for the engagement. May you be well.