Evolution of the “N-word”
In America’s earliest times, the word “negro” was created as a descriptor of African Americans. As time progressed, the word “negro” evolved to the much-hated word by many, “nigger”. This word has been a raincloud hung above the heads of many generations of African American families. I think it is safe to say that this word was hated by all of the slaves due to the pain and suffering that the word was built around. African Americans, in a way, have brought new life and a new meaning to the word by using the term “nigga” in a non-racist way. “Nigga”, in today’s society, can mean “friend”, “fool”, “family”, “cat”, “dog”, “blue”, “purple” or anything in-between.
Growing up, I never had many African Americans in my class. As I continued on to High School, there was a larger minority presense. The use of the word “nigga” in my school was not seen as an insult to anyone or anything. Often times, I would hear my white classmates calling other white classmates “their nigga” meaning that they were friends. Even when the white kids in my school used the word around African Americans, usually, nobody would bat an eye. Since not everybody is as comfortable with the word as others, the people that did say it would try to refrain from using the word around their African Americans peers to be, I suppose, respectful.
Some of my best friends that are white will use “nigga” when we are together in their normal sentences without realizing it, but they mean no harm in saying it. It has grown on people as generations have passed by becoming a more widely-accepted term among all races. Even the Latino’s and other minorities in my high school could’ve been heard saying it every once in a while, and it never became a racial problem in my school although there were roughly fifteen African Americans in my graduating class as compared to the other two hundred and fifty students.
The heavy use of “nigga” by African American rap artists has become extremely popular. Musicians such as Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Kid Cudi, and Childish Gambino all have used the term numerous times in their artwork. The influences that these famous artists have on younger children has intensified the popularity of the word “nigga” in younger generations. African American children have been known to use the word significantly more than African American children did before 2000. This is directly related to the message that the role models of children send out.
The increasing popularity of the word “nigga” has slowly diminished the racism seen behind the word. People today have basically separated the word “nigga” and “nigger”. The word “nigger” is mostly used in a racist way where “nigga” is seen as a sort of universal term that has an infinite amount of meanings to some. “Nigga” is usually not used as a racist word although it does still offend some African Americans. I believe it is, in a way, the whites responsibility to understand why it is sensitive to some African Americans and why it should remain a word that is cautiously used by whites.
I have seen the word “nigga” become more widely accepted in my age group and I see it becoming more accepted among all races as time progresses. The evolution of the word “nigger” has come a long way. Many African Americans have visualized the pain and suffering behind the word “nigger” for years. Although “nigga” is simply a miniscule spinoff of the word, it is used by many different races in todays progressing culture. Despite the increasing approval of the term, who knows if we will ever be able to see and hear the word without being reminded of the hatred and horrors that have stained the word for countless years.