The N(igga) Word

Is the N-word acceptable?

I think this is the most debated question amongst Black Americans… Ever. It is the question where we are split right down the middle. Rarely, will you even find a family where they all agree on whether or not the term is appropriate.

Well first of all, I’m not even going to discuss the word ending in -er. It’s pretty much understood that the -er makes it what we were called during the most trying times of our development as a people. That’s the general white pronunciation of the word, and the sharpness that Black American hear when they hear the -er may never be understood by any other races. As silly as it may sound, it’s true. Most Black Americans, like myself, draw a distinctive line between the two pronunciations.

Last year, after the continuos racial tensions that the media consistently bombarded me with, I was forced to think about the word. I was forced to think whether or not I wanted to use a word that was used to degrade my ancestors, equating them to less-than-human. I thought about it; I thought about it long and hard. I thought about the way my people had to withstand being called that to their faces, and take it; defenseless. I thought about whether there was really a difference between the original word and our derivative of it. I thought about it for a whole weekend before deciding, I’ll probably always say nigga.

The reason why is because it just does not carry the same baggage that it did in the 60s and prior. The word evolved. It changed. The way we use it, say it and it’s definition all changed. It’s almost a completely different word. I was born in a generation where the only negative way the word could be used was either by a white person or with the -er attached. I didn’t set that standard and I’m not trying to change it. I actually like the word and the way I use it. I knew the word nigga and I knew who my niggas were before I fully understood the magnitude and history of the word. That is the culture. I understand how ignorant it may sound to some, but culture is not and will not be completely understood by those who do not participate in it; and I should not and will not be ashamed of it.

We all have different levels of acquaintances. There are colleagues, coworkers, friends, associates and so-on and so-forth. How you group these people is completely up to you. I’m sure that you can understand how thin the line is between some of these groups. For example, you may work with a person that you chat with from time to time in the halls or in the break room, but you wouldn’t call that person your friend. You haven’t had any bad interactions with him, but just knowing his last name and some family information doesn’t make him your friend. It works the same way with young Black Americans — just because you’re my friend, doesn’t make you my nigga. That is the highest level of camaraderie anyone within a black circle of friends can be awarded. That’s what the word means to me; it’s simply the highest bond of friendship within my race. It is not derogatory. It is not negative. It is not a reminder of struggle and pain or oppression. I was born in a time when the word had lost nearly all of those connotations; nigger had not… But we’re not talking about that right now.

Now with my personal use of the word, there comes a responsibility to discern when and with whom to use it. I highly doubt if any older people I know have ever heard me use it. I recognize what it could mean to them, and I reserve what I feel is my right to use it. They may be completely comfortable with it, but I will not take that chance. The use of that word around a person who struggled through the Civil Rights Movement can easily be taken as disrespect. (If you know me, you know that I am completely against disrespect; especially against elders.) So I am very careful that I only use nigga when I’m with my peers. However, even with my peers, I have a few friends that have expressed that they do not like the word, do not use the word and would appreciate if they would not be referenced as the word, and with those peers, I refrain from using the word. Like I started, Black Americans are split with legitimate terms on each side. I believe that we should at least have a level of respect for each other choice though. For example, my friends never told me not to say it, but with their expressed discontent for the word, I chose not to say it around them so that we have a mutual agreement. But the minute you tell me not to say it because you don’t think it’s right, “Nigga please.” You will quickly get the other side of nigga.

How do I feel about white people using the word?  I don’t think they should, but I can’t stop anyone from doing anything. My request has always been that anyone who feels the urge or freedom to say it, that is not of African descent have enough tact to not say it around people who are. There is still a weight that comes with the word that you have to be black to understand. After I grew older and went through a few scenarios that made me feel the weight of what it might have been like to have been called a nigger, I had to fall back and reevaluate my own personal usage and make a decision to continue or to quit. The University of Georgia has a tradition that students do not walk through the UGA Arches until they have graduated. Until you have put in the time required to earn that degree from that school, you will not be legitimately permitted passage through those arches. Now if you decide to walk through anyway, it’s not like the previous alumni are going to go crazy trying to get you to undo your actions, but there will be some kickback. It’s the same way with the saying nigga. I see it as whites wanting the privilege of using nigga, without ever experiencing what it is to be a nigger. Is there a double-standard there? Yes it is. And men still make more than women in the workforce for the same jobs. Women are still called whores for doing the same things that men do which bring them praise.No one is a stranger to the unfairness of double-standards, so the understanding that it’s going nowhere should be of no shock to anyone.

Now all of this is from my perspective; and until we come to an overall consensus that the word will not be used, this nigga is here to stay.

I Was Looking For Me; I Found Black

Towards the end of 2013, I decided that the time for lackadaisical living was over. I could walk the circle of methodical procrastination for the rest of my life, having gained all of the knowledge available and not an ounce of wisdom to go with it. What good is knowing better and not doing better? I thought about the progress I should have made with the guidance that I had been provided throughout my life; the results were inexcusable. Not judging by materialism and not saying that I’m some kind of villain, but when I stripped myself of excuses and thought about potential, no one would be to blame for any regrets but me alone.

Before 2014 started, I had already determined that by the end of that year, I would have a more clearcut outline of my life, my purpose and would begin to take strides to get there. I didn’t realize that what I had set out on was a search for self. I just wanted to cut ties with the unnecessaries and move forward with the necessities. Some were easy; some weren’t. I found that in a lot of areas I had to start completely over. A found a lot of areas where I was standing on nothing but dreams with nothing to back them. I spent a lot of time talking with my dad in 2014, who has never been afraid to tear me down with the truth, but only to build me back up in faith. I think my mom babied me more in 2014 than she had since I was five (literally). Nonetheless, by September/October, I was satisfied with the progress I had made and was looking forward to 2015 as a new completed version of myself.

And then I was faced with Ferguson…

I hate to keep bringing it up, but that was something that forced me to reevaluate myself, not just as this new me that I was creating, but as a young black male in America. It’s almost as if in the process of correctly rebuilding my identity, I forgot all about the black bricks. I had the Christian bricks for the foundation, the work ethic bricks, the bricks for planning and future goals, and even career bricks; my job was looking promising.

But out of the blue, the tragedies of Michael Brown and Eric Garner reminded me that all of those other bricks — except your faith — can be torn down and taken from you at any moment, for no reason at all… and forgotten.

It’s January 2015 now. The magnitude of that realization still has not worn off. I felt as though I had finally figured Reggie out; at least I had that much in life figured out. Then in the midst of that, I had to find out that I have multiple character profiles that must be used interchangeably in order for me to successfully maneuver through life while maintaining a certain moral standard and integrity.

Why can’t I just be Reggie?

If Eric Garner was my father, or if Michael Brown was my brother, and gas was $2 a gallon, I think I could afford to completely burn down a small state… But that’s the unrestricted black Reggie talking. Christian Reggie says, “That’s not the answer.” Black Reggie says, “This is why people think Christians and blacks are pushovers; I’ll take one for the team.” Then Oldest Brother Reggie says, “What kind of example are you trying to set?”

I’m one person that play numerous of roles to numerous people. Whether it’s a following role or a leading role, my actions always have to be the best for those around me. When it comes to a situation like that of Trayvon, Eric or Michael, before I react, I have to make sure that whatever I do falls within the guidelines of being a Christian first. After it clears that standard, I have to make sure that it is the best thing and representation for black people. If it then clears that standard, I have to make sure that it doesn’t set a bad example for anyone who may be looking up to me; even if it’s just my 14-year-old brother.

Complicated.

On top of that, the older I get, the more life changes for me, the more you will have to ensure that your next move is always your best move. One day, I’ll probably be married with children and grandchildren. It would be a shame if I couldn’t provide the same good examples that I was provided by my grandparents; living and lost.

All I’m saying is that there is so much that goes into being a black American man that much of it is easily overlooked. For a short period of time, I felt as though I could just go invincibly through life with this new plan and new me, and all I had to do was to do right and mind my own business. I guess for that small amount of time, I knew what it was like to be white. Trayvon was just simply walking home with a bag of Skittles and a drink; but Zimmerman thought something was wrong with that — and the court system backed his decision.

Of course with the grace of God, I could live a life without incidents of the sort. However, I’m black, and I can’t take the grace of God to myself and forget all of my other black brothers. Some kind of way, I believe finding yourself includes what you can do to help others. I guess I’ll find out in 2015.

Week 9 Recap

Well I believe an apology is in order. We’re into week 10 and I’m just getting to the Week 9 Recap.

Last week was short for posting. Material was abundant; time was not.

Monday, November 10, I worked all day Googling, YouTubing, theorizing, note taking and drafting, only to lose confidence in what I was writing about and going to bed. That was actually a first. There have been instances, where I substituted one essay for another, but I had not scrapped an idea and produced nothing. Nonetheless, I learned a lot and found out a to that I would not have otherwise known, so I count that as progress.

Tuesday, November 11, I wrote about the competitive attitudes of people. I believe most people’s competitive attitudes stem from being “better than”, rather than being the best. I feel as though any time you want to be better than a particular individual, that gives room for jealousy, rivalry, strife and contentions that would be avoided it your aim was to simply be the best at whatever it is that you do. There’s is nothing wrong with wanting to be the best, but let it not be directed at of someone else. That may sound like a contradiction, but I promise it’s not. Just a simple example, Venus and Serena both want to be the best, but they do not want invoke the pain of defeat on each other, but it’s would to happen because there can only be one 1st place (hopefully that sums it up a bit).

Friday, November 14, I tried to differentiate between arrogance and confidence. I finally decided that most of it lies within the intent of the statements and actions of the person in question. “I’m the best” from a confident person can simply mean just what he has said. However, that same statement — “I’m the best” — can mean, “I’m better than all of y’all” when spoken from an arrogant person. Confidence lies within the abilities and qualities of a person. Whereas arrogance feeds off the perceptions of abilities and qualities. None of these are stone facts, but I would like to think that I’m somewhere in the ballpark… I’m always open for correcting and another perspective.

Last night, November 15, I was motivated by an act of kindness between two groups of black men, to revisit the essay that I had scrapped on Monday night. Even though the outcome of both last night’s essay was completely different from what would have been written on Monday, I am convinced that what I concluded was the proper perspective. I am very hopeful for black American men and will not be convinced by the media that we are the lost cause that we have been portrayed to be. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16, KJV). It is easy to apply scriptures like these to ourselves and the things we want, but while writing this particular essay, I realized that we should probably focus some of that prayer on those who can not, or do not know, to pray for themselves. It’s easier to start with those you can relate to first, but I love EVERYBODY! (Just in case I have a brother or sister from another ethnicity read this and feel as though I am negligent of others; I’m not) 🙂

Well, that was all for last week. I’m into week 10 and will probably be working some less stressful material this week. I encourage everyone to seek out their passion and go head first into it. The emotional liberty that writing in this fashion has granted me over the last few weeks has taken me by surprise. I believe the factor of sharing has broken through a barrier in my personality that has opened me up to freely be who I am apart from writing it. So if you ever see me in person, don’t be creeped out if I go mushy on you. 🙂 I’m sincerely enjoying the feedback and shares that I’ve been getting and just knowing that I may be helping someone in some way. Never take my word, completely though… Always bounce them off an elder, Pastor or a trusted person that you know before acting on anything. Most importantly, if it refers to the faith, make sure it checks out with the Bible, and if it does not, let me know and I will address it immediately.

With that being said, smile, enjoy your week, keep an open perspective and show compassion!

Black and Hopeful

Earlier this week, I started writing about the status and progress of Black American men. I’m not even sure what prompted the thought at this point, but I wanted to know whether there was any chance of the improvement of black men. When I say improvement, I would like for that to refer to the mental condition of all of us as a whole; a healing of the social stigmas that we have been conditioned to live by. Considering the fact that it would take generations upon generations to reverse what generations upon generations have done, I settled for the idea of hoping for the change of how the Black American man is viewed. Even though, this would take long as well, I believe it would be a great start to a more permanent change within the minds of black men.

Typically, I try to keep my topics more open, hopefully to broaden the perspective of anyone who may read no matter what ethnicity they come from — But on so many levels, who you are, is who you look like. I am a black man and there is only so much that I can say without exclusively referring to all black men. In the general American eye, we are all the same, and for me to want progress for myself, is to want progress for us all. So even though everything (as far as I am concerned) falls under the umbrella of being a Christian, I, being just a man, feel compelled to address more specific people, even though God sees us all the same.

My core thought process of the entire issued though, was based this theory: All of us want better; all of us want to do better; but not all of us have seen better. Therefore, we have nothing better by which to model ourselves.

Then handy-dandy Google, absorbed a few hours of my time. I came across a video that took place in 1994 of a convention for black men. At that particular session I watched, there were approximately 13,000 men on the inside of a large church and another 18,000 outside surrounding the building. The leaders at this convention were not catering to their egos, or telling them of blessings soon to come. The leaders there were not telling them that everything would be alright. These men were being told the importance of raising families, caring for their women and loving one another, instead of acting out violence towards one another. The crowd was filled with young men who were extremely receptive to what they were hearing. This made me feel that whatever progress had to be made, could be made; until I realized 1994 was twenty years ago. I enjoyed maybe an hour of hope and writing, before I realized “1994”. After just a few minutes more of thinking about all the detriment that has been done since then, I gave up and scrapped the essay.

The deterioration that I’m referring to is not limited to blacks only though; it has affected the entire nation. However, blacks might have taken the longest strides towards progress, while at the same time, taking even larger strides backwards. We have made the most progress in the fields of entertainment, which in most instances glorifies lives of crime and degradation. I am not faulting the artists, and producers, and actors, and directors (completely), but when this media is passed along without the proper checks and balances, we turn and act it out in real life. So the success for one can indirectly turn into failure for thousands. To add a bit of validity to my point, how many times have car accidents and school shootings by adolescent boys and young men been attributed to or linked to video games? Well then why can’t movies and music do the same to the actions of our young people?

With all of that being said, let me explain why I am writing this now. Today after Sunday service, my brother and I stood talking in the parking lot maybe fifteen feet from the sidewalk. From one end of the sidewalk, two young, dreadlocked black men walked towards three slightly younger black men coming in the opposite direction. The sidewalk is barely wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side on. As the two groups came closer to each other, meeting adjacent to where my brother and I were standing, I became quiet… as did my brother. I’m not sure what my brother was thinking, but I was thinking, “It’s about to go down.” That lets me know that my mind is no better than that of general America towards my own people. I expected there to be at least an exchange of words due to simple sidewalk territory. Nonetheless, I was blessed to see my ignorance proven wrong. Without a spoken word, both parties aligned themselves to smoothly pass by each other without incident. But yet and still, in my ignorance, I thought, “That was close.” So to combat that layer of corrupted thinking, one of the guys in the duo turned and addressed the younger trio and said, “Hey guys, I really appreciate you moving to the side like you did. Most people might not have done that.” The younger group thanked them for their gratitude and continued with looks of accomplishment on their faces. I could tell that with those kind words, they would be more eager to be courteous when the next opportunity presented itself. Now I’m left standing there in amazement with a sense of stoopid that I’m almost too ashamed to admit. Even though, I had just walked out of church, neither my heart nor mind showed any hope of common courtesy between these young men. I was shown that it is a lot easier to have faith in my mind that it is with your heart, and in my heart, I did not expect better from my own brothers.

My brother and I chased down the older two guys and told them how much it had encouraged us to see them do what they did. They replied, “You have to give, to get. We show that to get that.” At that point, it was confirmed with me that all you need is a good heart to make a change. Those guys had hearts of gold. I believe I was allowed to see that to encourage me not to give up on what I hope and pray for when it comes to my people, specifically. If things continue in the direction that they are going, things may not get better, but if everyone gives up hope, things definitely will not get any better. I feel 100% better about black men than I did last week, all because of that. I feel like there is hope for a few more black women because of that. Because of what I witnessed today, I feel better about the future of our families and the progression of our people; not monetarily, but in standards and integrity. This was something that let me know that the condition of our men is not completely lost, and with enough effort, their lives can be improved, and their souls can be saved through love and Jesus Christ.