Me and My Niggas

Reneaux Ruffin
6 min readOct 17, 2018

Or an observation of why I can say it, but you shouldn’t.

“three men standing near wall” by JD Mason on Unsplash

Notice, how I didn’t say you can’t say it? Also, full disclosure, I don’t really use the word. If we’re being honest, the word in the title is literally only to elicit a biological (and possibly even) physical response in the reader. Did you feel your stomach drop? Did you feel dirty for saying the word in your head even though it wasn’t out loud? Did you feel nothing at all? Does it bother you that it was there to begin with? Good. Let’s talk about why you may or may not have felt that way.

To briefly recap on the history of the word, both “Nigger” and “Nigga/Niggah” were used to dehumanize and discriminate against African-Americans and Blacks during and after the slave era. Honestly, I don’t know why I bothered capitalizing the words. Capitalization is for proper nouns. If racists viewed Black folks as proper nouns then we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation. Instead racists who use the word akin Black folks more to the likes of mud or dog shit, and that’s being nice. If you want a more in-depth look into the history of the word, please look at this wonderful article written by Brando Simeo Starkey who includes a few hyperlinks of his own, as well as this article from the African-American Registry. That should be plenty to at least get you started into the darkness that is this word’s various iterations throughout different points in time.

Now, let’s face it. “Nigger” is the hands-down the most offensive pejorative used in modern society. Don’t at me. It has taken wings and flown to be used to describe other races and actions in ways that lessen them from Whites but still elevate them over Blacks. For instance, there are plenty of pejoratives for Hispanic and Asian people, but when a racist is particularly angry out come terms like “Sand Nigger” and “Yellow Nigger.” Yup. On their lowest day, they get to mingle with the Blacks at the bottom of the gene pool. Pretty gross I know.

So then, why do Black people continue to use it? Easy, other Black folks used it. As much as I would love to say it was this glowing symbol of togetherness, honestly, it was usually just self-loathing or a false sense of grandeur they would use to elevate themselves over other Blacks. Everywhere they went, Nigger is what they were and therefore Nigga is how they viewed…

Reneaux Ruffin

Writer. Witch. If Garnet was obsessed with Evanescence's The Open Door tbh.