Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s uncomfortable seeing it in the public square. Deal with it though. Let me get there.
I’ve thought a lot about language lately — its evolution and fluidity, given the context of time and space. In 2010, in an interconnected universe where cats don’t speak English, but have mastered American pop culture swag, the term could become too mainstream, too commonplace, too “popular” to remain offensive. You have to grapple with the possibility that
white folks might get the gumption to test out “post-racial America” theory, and take the term out for a spin. Now, I’m not saying such a decision might cause trouble for an adventurous, thrill-seeking lad. I’m merely acknowledging the risk — as should said adventurous, thrill-seeking lad.
Nevertheless, we say it don’t we? And not only in the streets either, but at home, in our elite, educated gatherings we let it slip. Or we don’t let it slip. We sometimes consciously, purposely, and with much emphasis prefer nigga(s) to friend, young man/woman, group of people. Around the spades table, cats don’t decry cats who renege. They decry niggas that renege! I’m not saying it’s right; I’m merely saying it is . I’m not even saying that “we” is all of us. Or even all us . Just that I hear it. Everywhere I go.
In recent years I’ve noticed that the folks I kick it with on a regular basis cuss like a pack-o-sailors. And God love em! You see, I appreciate and encourage colorfully conjugated “fucks” and strategically placed “hoes” in conversation. I bristle instantly at one’s usage of darn over damn, shoot instead of shit. Judgmental finger wagging and head shaking instead of a stern, “Muthafucka, what!?” No seriously, you gotta cuss a nigga out sometimes; Folk need to know they have to respect your anger.
Lame tongues have argued for years that a profanity-full vocabulary is a sure sign of some conversation/self-expression deficiency. I would counter that it’s quite the contrary; the successful cusser is intelligent enough to do so colorfully, allowing a carefully and cleverly constructed stream of expletives to bask in their own glory. In that regard, a profanophile* like myself seeks merely to add a certain flavor to the sitcheeation. I believe it’s embedded in my Blackness. Really, me and my “muhfukkas” don’t mean no harm.
Brother Bernie explains it better than me, tho.
I suspect that those
of us who toss “nigga” around leisurely do so in earnest — without malice or disregard for its historical significance. Instead, they we recognize that language isn’t a national historic artifact, to be preserved as is for all time. It evolves just like we do. That other previously maligned ethnic groups haven’t re-defined their negative monikers should be of no concern to us. However, I recognize that that’s Black folks though…always tryna keep up with the Levy’s.
Finally, our linguistic freedoms notwithstanding, there are rules to this shit. No cussing around old folks and babies. And be sure to tell your white friends that: no. “nigga” liberties do. not. apply to them…And tell em not to get fucked up making the arguments that I have here. Some niggas ain’t get that post-racial memo. And some shit will just never be ok. And so it’s really best to leave that one be.
You ever watch a Quentin Tarantino film? This is what language looks and feels like sans the Puritan filter. I much, much prefer it.
The end, bitches.
Profanophile: So I made it up. I’m a fuckin PhD-to-be. I’m entitled to this shit.