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Forums > Off-Topic Discussion > The power of the 'N word'

Model

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Čaġčarān, Ġawr, Afghanistan

I know some people may be offended by this thread, understandably so, but I want to know why the 'N word' hold so much weight.

As an Australian I don't think I've ever heard someone use the term offensively to another person. Not on television, radio conversation or in real life. It features in some of the music I listen to. The only other times it's used in my experience is when someone gets very tanned and posts a photo of their tan lines and someone comments on the picture saying 'you're so black, N.....!'. This usually happens between girls and it's kind of making fun of the music and is used as a compliment because generally tanned skin is considered sexy and healthy here.

The only things I can relate it to would be Aboriginals and the offensive terms 'Abbo' and 'Boons' and increasingly white Australia's racism towards Muslims and their reference to them as 'Rag heads'. Do any Americans use these terms and find them offensive in their home country?

What does N___ actually mean now, in today's culture?

I know I could google it but I enjoy MM discussions.

Also, this thread stemmed from the Advertisement one using the term broads.

Nov 07 12 03:03 pm Link

Model

hygvhgvkhy

Posts: 2092

Chicago, Illinois, US

Tis a word, in the dictionary, noones allowed to publicly say because of oversensitivity.

Aaaaand I'm out.

Nov 07 12 03:15 pm Link

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Paolo Diavolo

Posts: 8813

Martinez, California, US

heres a video i think may help explain it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVN_0qvuhhw

Nov 07 12 03:18 pm Link

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David Desoer

Posts: 148

Cayuga, Ontario, Canada

Paolo Diavolo wrote:
heres a video i think may help explain it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVN_0qvuhhw

Aaaaargh!  You beat me to it.

Cheers,
Dave

Nov 07 12 03:19 pm Link

Model

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Čaġčarān, Ġawr, Afghanistan

Presley ONeil wrote:
Tis a word, in the dictionary, noones allowed to publicly say because of oversensitivity.

Aaaaand I'm out.

See I would agree, I didn't write it in my post so people wouldnt call me insensitive. But it isn't voldermort, and I openly said our most offensive terms.

Nov 07 12 03:24 pm Link

Model

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Čaġčarān, Ġawr, Afghanistan

Paolo Diavolo wrote:
heres a video i think may help explain it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVN_0qvuhhw

My Internet speed is too slow for YouTube, sorry.

Nov 07 12 03:26 pm Link

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RacerXPhoto

Posts: 2473

Brooklyn, New York, US

Mary you would need a huge background lesson in US culture and history to understand.

Nov 07 12 03:28 pm Link

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Svend

Posts: 25127

Boulder, Colorado, US

Mary Thomson wrote:
See I would agree, I didn't write it in my post so people wouldnt call me insensitive. But it isn't voldermort, and I openly said our most offensive terms.

Sayeth the two young, pretty white girls, one of whom is from Australia...

A wise person would defer judgment to those harmed by, effected by and had the word applied to them.  That person is not me, so I defer judgment to them, as you probably should.

Nov 07 12 03:34 pm Link

Model

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RacerXPhoto wrote:
Mary you would need a huge background lesson in US culture and history to understand.

I thought as much. It's sad that our only knowledge here only comes from rap haha

Nov 07 12 03:34 pm Link

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Svend

Posts: 25127

Boulder, Colorado, US

P.S. I didn't mean to sound snippy...  I just reread my post and realized it sounded kinda shitty.  Not meant to.

Nov 07 12 03:35 pm Link

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Tony Lawrence

Posts: 19225

Chicago, Illinois, US

OP, how would you feel if someone called you a bitc% or a cun6?   Think about that the next time you wonder about the 'n' word.   Its insulting.   Its deeming.   Its offensive.   Some people might point out that Black people call each other that word in friendship and greeting.   Some do.   I don't but within the same groups some people see no harm.   Don't use it.

Nov 07 12 03:36 pm Link

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Designit - Edward Olson

Posts: 1637

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, California, US

Accept that there are things in the world that you will never truly understand because you did not grow up living them, and no amount of explanation will allow you to really know what they mean to the people that did.

Nov 07 12 03:37 pm Link

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DougBPhoto

Posts: 38624

Portland, Oregon, US

Mary Thomson wrote:
It's sad that our only knowledge here only comes from rap haha

Now there is an oxymoron if I ever heard one.





Quick question, do you know anything about the history of slavery in the US?

Heard of racism perhaps?

Nov 07 12 03:40 pm Link

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Anthony-Ray

Posts: 387

Raleigh, North Carolina, US

People are ignorant. Simple.

The use of the word in any manor is further degrading american culture. It's irritating.

Nov 07 12 03:41 pm Link

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Anthony-Ray

Posts: 387

Raleigh, North Carolina, US

dp

Nov 07 12 03:42 pm Link

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London Fog

Posts: 6770

London, England, United Kingdom

Where did the word originate from and what does it mean, and why does Samuel L Jackson like using it in every other sentence that he speaks?

Nov 07 12 03:43 pm Link

Model

DarcieK

Posts: 10874

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Presley ONeil wrote:
Tis a word, in the dictionary, noones allowed to publicly say because of oversensitivity.

Aaaaand I'm out.

Says the 16 year old white girl....

Nov 07 12 03:45 pm Link

Model

Russian Katarina II

Posts: 2515

London, England, United Kingdom

One of the basic rights in a civilized society is the right of a group to determine how they refer to each other and how they want others to call them. It's their privilege of interpretation and no one else's.

For that simple reason blacks can call each other the n-word, but a white person normally can't.

Bottom line: If you're white, don't use the n-word unless you have explicit permission (only around those who've given permission). 

It really isn't rocket science, is it?

Nov 07 12 03:46 pm Link

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Jim Ball

Posts: 17239

Frontenac, Kansas, US

I grew up in the 1950's & 60's - the time of segregated everything.  N****r was the ugliest word I knew then.  It still is, and I don't care how many times Samuel Jackson says it, or the black kids call each other that, it is still the ugliest word in the English language and will never do anything but keep society divided.

The world would be a better place if that word disappeared from the collective consciousness of Mankind.

Nov 07 12 03:50 pm Link

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The Signature Image

Posts: 12055

Gorham, Maine, US

Presley ONeil wrote:
Tis a word, in the dictionary, noones allowed to publicly say because of oversensitivity.

Aaaaand I'm out.

"Over sensitivity"? Would you consider yourself "over sensitive" and offended if I called you "white trash" or "trailer trash"? Then there is the "c" word (which I will never use) and will ask would you be offended if I directed that term at you?

The word is offensive to me as a black man and to 99% of blacks in general. The fact that the word is offensive should be enough and should require no explantion as to why it is?

No? Try these words when talking to one group or another: "Jew boy," "WOP," "chink," and see what the response is?

As you are picking yourself up from the ground trying saying "I think you are being overly sensitive."

Nov 07 12 03:55 pm Link

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Art Silva

Posts: 9461

Santa Barbara, California, US

Shhhh don't say Nikon in a room full of Canon shooters?

sorry I'll let myself out  tongue

Nov 07 12 03:56 pm Link

Model

Russian Katarina II

Posts: 2515

London, England, United Kingdom

Jim Ball wrote:
I grew up in the 1950's & 60's - the time of segregated everything.  N****r was the ugliest word I knew then.  It still is, and I don't care how many times Samuel Jackson says it, or the black kids call each other that, it is still the ugliest word in the English language and will never do anything but keep society divided.

The world would be a better place if that word disappeared from the collective consciousness of Mankind.

When I visited South Africa with my husband a few years ago some whites referred to him as "kaffer" (the equivalent for the n-word in Afrikaans) two or three times - and gave me spiteful looks.

That kind of hate speech isn't exclusive to the US unfortunately.

Nov 07 12 03:59 pm Link

Model

hygvhgvkhy

Posts: 2092

Chicago, Illinois, US

The Signature Image wrote:

"Over sensitivity"? Would you consider yourself "over sensitive" and offended if I called you "white trash" or "trailer trash"? Then there is the "c" word (which I will never use) and will ask would you be offended if I directed that term at you?

The word is offensive to me as a black man and to 99% of blacks in general. The fact that the word is offensive should be enough and should require no explantion as to why it is?

No? Try these words when talking to one group or another: "Jew boy," "WOP," "chink," and see what the response is?

As you are picking yourself up from the ground trying saying "I think you are being overly sensitive."

No, i dont waste time getting offended by things. But I'm a 16 year old white year so I don't know anything about anything(;

Nov 07 12 04:08 pm Link

Model

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Katarina N. wrote:

When I visited South Africa with my husband a few years ago some whites referred to him as "kaffer" (the equivalent for the n-word in Afrikaans) two or three times - and gave me spiteful looks.

That kind of hate speech isn't exclusive to the US unfortunately.

My heritage is Afrikaans, my sisters and I are the first to be born in Australia out of my family line. So I do understand the offense of the word Kaffer. I had forgotten about that, but you're right it does have a similar hate to what I imagine the N word does.

Nov 07 12 04:11 pm Link

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DougBPhoto

Posts: 38624

Portland, Oregon, US

Presley ONeil wrote:
No, i dont waste time getting offended by things. But I'm a 16 year old white year so I don't know anything about anything(;

Might you consider being offended if your family had a history of being called such things while being hung from trees, chased by dogs, dragged by pickup trucks, and had things set on fire in your yard (possibly even your home or your church) while those words were being yelled at you?

What if you were property to be bought and sold at will, and used however your owner wished?

Now, if one word summed up all those things and much much more, do you think you might find it offensive when used to insult you, or when used by others out of ignorance of it's historical meaning?

Nov 07 12 04:11 pm Link

Model

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Čaġčarān, Ġawr, Afghanistan

DougBPhoto wrote:

Now there is an oxymoron if I ever heard one.





Quick question, do you know anything about the history of slavery in the US?

Heard of racism perhaps?

No, we didn't study US culture in school and even though I do study Politics through my Business degree we don't focus on Americas past. Just as I assume they didn't teach about Aborignial culture in American schools? I do know and understand racism, so I'm not sure why you would ask me that. As I clearly wrote in the op what I think are probably equal terms to the N word when used here. What I don't understand is that even though I'm not calling anyone that word, it cannot be written, because even the sight of it is offensive.

Nov 07 12 04:15 pm Link

Model

hygvhgvkhy

Posts: 2092

Chicago, Illinois, US

DougBPhoto wrote:

Might you consider being offended if your family had a history of being called such things while being hung from trees, chased by dogs, dragged by pickup trucks, and had things set on fire in your yard (possibly even your home or your church) while those words were being yelled at you?

No. It's over(pretty much) and the word was already a word that was simply made to mean something it doesn't by a bunch of self righteous morons.

The n word as is has nothing to do with black people.

People(who are mostly old or dead) made it that way. And it shouldn't be.

&why with the rap music? If I were black, I would dislike lil Wayne much more so than any one else using the word in its proper context. It really should just be buried. Like 'Davenport'

Nov 07 12 04:19 pm Link

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Svend

Posts: 25127

Boulder, Colorado, US

Mary Thomson wrote:

No, we didn't study US culture in school and even though I do study Politics through my Business degree we don't focus on Americas past. Just as I assume they didn't teach about Aborignial culture in American schools? I do know and understand racism, so I'm not sure why you would ask me that. As I clearly wrote in the op what I think are probably equal terms to the N word when used here. What I don't understand is that even though I'm not calling anyone that word, it cannot be written, because even the sight of it is offensive.

There's deep pain associated with that word.  It comes from both sides as well.  Deep pain for those associated with it, by no choice of their own and shame from those associated with people who have used it to hurt others.  It's a symbol and a giant dark splotch on the history of this country.  There are libraries worth of books written on the subject and you could easily find some good ones to educate yourself with about it.  It's worth knowing.

Nov 07 12 04:21 pm Link

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V Laroche

Posts: 2746

New Orleans, Louisiana, US

Presley ONeil wrote:
Tis a word, in the dictionary, noones allowed to publicly say because of oversensitivity.

Aaaaand I'm out.

They just keep making little white girls dumber and dumber these days, man.

Nov 07 12 04:22 pm Link

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Svend

Posts: 25127

Boulder, Colorado, US

Presley ONeil wrote:
No. It's over(pretty much) and the word was already a word that was simply made to mean something it doesn't by a bunch of self righteous morons.

The n word as is has nothing to do with black people.

People(who are mostly old or dead) made it that way. And it shouldn't be.

You have a very limited scope of understanding about this.

Nov 07 12 04:23 pm Link

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DarcieK

Posts: 10874

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Presley ONeil wrote:

No. It's over(pretty much) and the word was already a word that was simply made to mean something it doesn't by a bunch of self righteous morons.

The n word as is has nothing to do with black people.

People(who are mostly old or dead) made it that way. And it shouldn't be.

&why with the rap music? If I were black, I would dislike lil Wayne much more so than any one else using the word in its proper context. It really should just be buried. Like 'Davenport'

You are so ignorant and clueless that it isn't even funny.

There are offensive terms for every freaking race out there. Just because the derogatory meaning of the word is old and the people who used it are "old or dead" does not mean one can use those words.

Get a fucking clue. Seriously.

Nov 07 12 04:24 pm Link

Model

V Laroche

Posts: 2746

New Orleans, Louisiana, US

Presley ONeil wrote:
No. It's over(pretty much) and the word was already a word that was simply made to mean something it doesn't by a bunch of self righteous morons.

The n word as is has nothing to do with black people.

People(who are mostly old or dead) made it that way. And it shouldn't be.

Jesus H Christ. You really don't think white people still don't scream that word at black people while raping them or beating them or killing them? I am telling you, it happened today somewhere. It will happen again.

Do you know the last time white people lynched a black person in Texas? It was in 2008. There was another one in 1998.

Shut the fuck up.

Nov 07 12 04:27 pm Link

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Wye

Posts: 9900

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Presley ONeil wrote:
The n word as is has nothing to do with black people.

Wait... what?

Nov 07 12 04:29 pm Link

Model

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Čaġčarān, Ġawr, Afghanistan

Svend wrote:
There's deep pain associated with that word.  It comes from both sides as well.  Deep pain for those associated with it, by no choice of their own and shame from those associated with people who have used it to hurt others.  It's a symbol and a giant dark splotch on the history of this country.  There are libraries worth of books written on the subject and you could easily find some good ones to educate yourself with about it.  It's worth knowing.

Perhaps Australia is too young a nation to have the same kind of pride that America does. But I still don't understand why it is then allowed to be used in the commercial music industry. I know if someone used a derogatory term towards Muslims or Aboriginals in commercial music it wouldn't be paid and the community backlash would be mammoth, even if they were from that race.

Edit: played, not paid. And seeing as I an visiting America next year for a semester I will make an effort to further my own personal knowledge on this subject. Thank you all for your responses. And I apologies for those who are trivializing it.

Nov 07 12 04:29 pm Link

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DougBPhoto

Posts: 38624

Portland, Oregon, US

Presley ONeil wrote:
No. It's over(pretty much) and the word was already a word that was simply made to mean something it doesn't by a bunch of self righteous morons.

The n word as is has nothing to do with black people.

People(who are mostly old or dead) made it that way. And it shouldn't be.

&why with the rap music? If I were black, I would dislike lil Wayne much more so than any one else using the word in its proper context. It really should just be buried. Like 'Davenport'

Yet, it is not over.    Things still happen and the word still has the same meaning.

It is still used as a racial insult, and a term that is intended to be the worst of insult/hate.

It does not matter if 10 years, 20 years, 50 years pass, it should never be redefined or thought to be acceptable.

The fact that it is used in rap or in movies, it probably should not be, but my perception is that it is used as a cheap/easy way to try to be inflammatory/gangster/edgy, whatever.

It is not over though, I saw it on Facebook last night as white people were complaining that Obama got re-elected, heck, I've even had a very white MM member bitching about Obama call him a nigger while writing to me.

It is simply not okay, much like the other thread active on MM right now discussing the use of Nazi symbols in photography.

Some things have terrible, hateful history and meanings, they should not be forgotten, and they should not be glamorized, and it is a sad state of educating the youth of this world (not just the USA) if they don't understand why these things are not okay.

Nov 07 12 04:29 pm Link

Model

Russian Katarina II

Posts: 2515

London, England, United Kingdom

Presley ONeil wrote:
Tis a word, in the dictionary, noones allowed to publicly say because of oversensitivity.

Aaaaand I'm out.

Word of advice: There are times when being sassy is cute. This isn't one of those times.

Part of growing up is learning when to be tactful.

Nov 07 12 04:31 pm Link

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DougBPhoto

Posts: 38624

Portland, Oregon, US

Katarina N. wrote:
Word of advice: There are times when being sassy is cute. This isn't one of those times.

Part of growing up is learning when to be tactful.

In other words, might you mean something like...

Sometimes it is a sign of intelligence to know when to shut the fuck up, and to listen & learn.

Yes?

Nov 07 12 04:33 pm Link

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Cherrystone

Posts: 36723

Columbus, Ohio, US

Presley ONeil wrote:

No. It's over(pretty much) and the word was already a word that was simply made to mean something it doesn't by a bunch of self righteous morons.

The n word as is has nothing to do with black people.

People(who are mostly old or dead) made it that way. And it shouldn't be.

&why with the rap music? If I were black, I would dislike lil Wayne much more so than any one else using the word in its proper context. It really should just be buried. Like 'Davenport'

http://i.imgur.com/0SBuk.gif

You never cease to amaze....hmm

Nov 07 12 04:34 pm Link

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Svend

Posts: 25127

Boulder, Colorado, US

Mary Thomson wrote:

Perhaps Australia is too young a nation to have the same kind of pride that America does. But I still don't understand why it is then allowed to be used in the commercial music industry. I know if someone used a derogatory term towards Muslims or Aboriginals in commercial music it wouldn't be paid and the community backlash would be mammoth, even if they were from that race.

Edit: played, not paid. And seeing as I an visiting America next year for a semester I will make an effort to further my own personal knowledge on this subject. Thank you all for your responses. And I apologies for those who are trivializing it.

Well, used in the "music industry", it's actually a reflection of how it is used socially.  Taking the power out of a word by owning it for yourself when no one else can say it is, well.... powerful.  I am not condoning it, and a lot of black people do not condone it either, but it is what it is.  It's taking back the power.

Nov 07 12 04:38 pm Link

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Tony Lawrence

Posts: 19225

Chicago, Illinois, US

Katarina N. wrote:

When I visited South Africa with my husband a few years ago some whites referred to him as "kaffer" (the equivalent for the n-word in Afrikaans) two or three times - and gave me spiteful looks.

That kind of hate speech isn't exclusive to the US unfortunately.

What???   I knew there was a reason I liked you.   I read Kaffir Boy years ago.   Great book.    Its a telling thing that American Blacks have co-op the word 'n' as a greeting and that actors like Sam Jackson, comics and rap artists regularly use it.   Yet Black Americans get angry at those who aren't Black who use it.   I think it should never be used by anyone.

Nov 07 12 04:39 pm Link