The Ni**a “S” & You
Up until I was about eight years-old, my mom and I would get up on Sunday mornings to go to church with my grandma. My aunt and two cousins would meet us there. Other than the six of us, there were probably only another 7–10 other people there consistently. The church was small. And black. Very, very black. I don’t remember what time church started, but I do know that we were lucky if it ended before Thursday.
My grandma would always be sitting up near the front in a special chair, because she was (and still is) one of the church “mothers”. People always had a bunch of respect for her. They’d ask her to pray for people on a weekly basis, and they always spoke to her in reverence. To me she was my grandma, but to them she was “Mother Richards”… And that’s when I was introduced to the ni**a “S”.
See, my grandma’s last name is Richard. But black people refused to allow that to be her name. So when they talked to her, it was always either “Mother Richards” or “Mother Richardson” or “Mother Richardsons”. Not once in all my years have I heard someone in that church call her by her actual name. The ni**a “S” strikes every time.
The ni**a “S” is like a plague. You’ve heard it before. It happens every day. For every McDonald’s, Arby’s, or Popeye’s; there is a Burger Kings, a Chick-Fil-As, or a White Castles. For every Marshall’s, Bath & Body Works, and Macy’s; there is a Wal-Marts, a Targets, and a Finish Lines.
The only known cure for the ni**a “S” is to, like, read the sign of the place of which you are speaking. Or to listen to a person say her last name is Richard, and trust that she’s not actually mispronouncing her own name. There is hope in us eradicating the ni**a “S” if we all bind together and believe in ourselves. I believe in us. I believe in you. Believe in me, and together we can stop sounding like we can’t read.