Nigger (also spelled niggar): a word that is an alteration of the earlier neger, nigger derives from the French negre, from the Spanish and Portuguese negro, from the Latin niger (black). First recorded in 1587 (as negar), the word probably originated with the dialectal pronunciation of negro in northern England and Ireland. – Anti-Bias Study Guide, Anti-Defamation League, 1998
Used rightly or wrongly, ironically or seriously, of necessity for the sake of realism, or impishly for the sake of comedy, it doesn’t matter. Negroes do not like it in any book or play whatsoever, be the book or play ever so sympathetic in its treatment of the basic problems of the race. Even though the book or play is written by a Negro, they still do not like it. The word nigger, you see, sums up for us who are colored all the bitter years of insult and struggle in America. – Langston Hughes, The Big Sea (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1940)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In the present-day English language, the word “nigger” is an ethnic slur, usually directed at black people. The word originated as a neutral term referring to people with black skin, as a variation of the Spanish and Portuguese noun negro, a descendant of the Latin adjective niger (“black”). It was often used derogatorily, and by the mid-twentieth century, particularly in the United States, its usage became unambiguously pejorative, a racist insult. Accordingly, it began to disappear from popular culture, and its continued inclusion in classic works of literature has sparked controversy.
In contemporary English, using the word “nigger” is considered extremely offensive, and it is often replaced with the euphemism “the N-word”. The variant “nigga” has to some extent been reclaimed by African Americans.
I find the N word very insulting. Every time I have heard it used in the past – from the mouths of babes, in fact, little White kids and then White teenagers, when I was in school – and every time I hear it used now, I get this feeling inside me that is not pleasant. I often want to strike back at the ass who uses it, even when said person is a character in a film (a topic I will touch upon in the future). In school, when I was in the eighth grade, I heard little White sixth grade boys using the N word when they spotted a group of Blacks walking towards them in the hallway. Of course, they did not utter the word loudly enough for the Black kids to hear them probably because they knew to do so would result in a butt stomping they would never have felt the likes of again.
White teenagers often used the N word when they got into altercations with Black students. I recall hearing one student admit that he ‘called people nigger all the time’. Stephen King uses it a lot in many of his stories and novels, and not always in association with a disreputable character. Quentin Tarantino, who hails from Tennessee – no surprise there – has come under fire for using the N word so much in his movies, most of which I find to be awful and not due to the inclusion of the word nigger. Paula Deen lost out on millions from endorsements and her once popular TV show, which was pulled from Food Network almost immediately, during the scandal of her use of the N word. Literature on the list of Classics that contain the N word, such as Mark Twain’s, are now being censored, with the word ‘nigger’ being replaced by ‘slave’.
While I don’t agree with censoring classical works which contain the N word, and I wholly believe in freedom of speech, I do understand that ‘nigger’ is an ugly word, possibly the most disparaging of the racial insults, and it’s time for Whites to clean up their speech, stop being so ignorant, and not use it. This goes for other non-Blacks as well. Just as you hate being called ‘honkies’ and ‘spics’ and ‘chinks’ so we loathe being referred to as ‘niggers’. Same goes for Blacks using it in reference to each other too.
There are sites galore that revel in ‘nigger’ jokes, as you can see for yourself from the images within this post. Whites find ‘nigger’ jokes hilarious, but when you tell a ‘cracker’ joke, they get all huffy on you. What hypocrites they are.
You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a ‘nigger’. – James Baldwin