Letters To The Editor-May '98

Nigga or Nigger

YO Dave you are on point with that piece son 
     brothers need to stop disrespecting their own
     how we gonna tell someone else to stop when we
     still do it.
     Keep it live son!
     Da Iron Anaconda of Da C.O.R.E. Chipher Of Rhymin Elements
     Chi town up in here!

 I have been reading your information for quite some time now and I love
it..I like hip-hop to a certain degree, but I'm not into the whole
cultural scene....However, I agree with you totally about the use of the
word nigga. I visited a black wax museum a few years ago, and they had a
wax presentation of what a slave ship was like. It was really more
barbaric than you were ever taught it to be. After that experience, I
realized how awful things had been, and I was never shown the reality of
it. I'm the first generation who really experienced freedom..considering
the civil-rights movement was only about 30 years ago. To make a long
story short, I could never listen to a Black person calling another
Black person 'nigga'...the origins of the word came out of slavery and
degradation, and it still means that...no matter how you dress it up,
nigga is a slave name. Thank you for your article and I hope more people
take it to heart.
Anthony Williams

Sup man. Respects on how you're bringing up politcal and social issues within the hip hop community. There is definitely a shortage of thinkers in hip hop. I am not Black, but I've grown up in Black ghettos all my life: in the Bronx, West Oakland, and Fillmoe. I grew up hearing "nigga," and never thought much of it until, unbelievably, I was 16 or so. After hearing for years my peoples saying "What's up my nigga" to me, naturally I too began using the word. I didn't use it offensively, and no one took it that way. I didn't use the word often, but it would come out sometimes: "What up my nigga," or, "That's my nigga!" When I was in my mid teens, I used to go bombing (graffiti) with mad heads of all races. There was one kid, who wasn't Black, who'd use the word constantly. And he was loud. We'd be on the bus, and he'd be shouting, "Yo nigga! Check this shit out nigga!" It was embarassing, and I realized that it sounded real funny coming out of his mouth. I decided that saying "nigga" was not a good thing for Blacks, let alone non-Blacks, and I needed to watch myself and stop using the word. I couldn't picture people walking around saying "What up my chink," "What's up Spic," or "What up my cracker," and logically, why should "nigga" be any different? I made a conscious decision then to never use the word again. It seems to me that over the course of 400 years, white society has managed to make it acceptable to Blacks to degrade themselves, even if it is with something as seemingly petty as a word. It's a form of deeply seeded self-hatred, and I, for one, refuse to condone or perpetuate it. I can't front like I've never said "nigga" sinceˇafter hearing something used towards me for so many years, it's a hard habit to breakˇbut I damn for sure don't use it consciously, and all in all, it can be said I've basically stopped saying it altogether. It bothers me seeing kids of other races, and even Blacks for that matter, using a word with so much hateful history, despite the fact that many use it innocuosly today. Your feelings on that matter, to me, are completely on point, and I think it's ridiculous if anyone doesn't agree or takes offense at what you wrote. Peace.

I just thought I'd drop you a line and suggest you listen to Cee Lo on the recent Goodie Mob album his first lines on the first track regarding Niggas and Gods....also his verse on Commons last album...Makes you think about the whole situation. I have many thoughts on the subject but very little time.... but I will say this: one of my reasons for liking the internet so much is that we do not have to know each others race, age or sex...we can finnally look at the screen and know we are equall it is only our actions and our typed words on such things as the Message boards which others are allowed to base opinions on...so we can not be judged by colour, age or sex. PEACE from England (as you may have guessed by my spelling of Color / colour).

You hit it right on with that last newsletter man. I don't think I've heard anyone put it more succinctly. I'm a 19 year old caucasian and it just grinds on my nerves to hear some of my favorite artists spewing this word over and over. Some of the time it gets to the point where I turn it off and throw on some light old school just to escape it. I really felt you on that last one, so please just keep telling it like it is. Peace...

Thank you for saying something on this issue. It's been something that's 
bothered me for years, so it's nice that someone of your stature stood 
up for this. Beyond that, I was amazed that 400 plus people also felt 
the word had no place in everyday language. 

Often, people don't think about the consiquences of their actions, 
especially with what they say. Growing up in the South, I've seen kids 
and adults alike get brutally beaten for calling a black man a "nigger". 
But, blacks will constantly toss that word among themselves. Even Q-Tip 
had a song, "Sucka Nigga", that basically said that it was okay to say 
this. It wasn't until I picked up Goodie Mob last weekend that I heard a 
counterarguement to this with "The Experience". The line that really 
sums things up is "You're not a nigger because you're black/ you're a 
nigger 'cause of how you act..." The whole song talks about how the use 
of this, especially when you think of it in it's accual context, is very 
disrespectful and self-defeating.

Now I'm white, but as you can tell I hate the word. I think of it in 
it's context. One other thing that also bothered me when I lived in the 
South was the word "wigger". I really hated this word when it was laid 
on me. Now this was 7th and 8th grades. To this day, I cringe when I 
hear the words "nigger and "Wigger" from people of any color as well as 
anyother word we shouldn't use. I often wonder if other people cringe 
when they use them.

Thanks again,

Steve Ledbetter (L-Ski)

Lincoln, NE
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