Does Using The Word “Nigga” Make Me A Bad Person?




I already know that this post is going to raise some eyebrows and cause some strong side-eyes.  So, before I get into the meat of what I’m about to say, just know that I accept the adverse reactions, but my opinion is what it is and if you read to the end, it’s really not that bad…I promise.


This post arose from a recent story I’ve been following about how Empire actor, Terrence Howard, wanted to begin using it on Fox’s hit show.  The show is centered around a family that builds a hip-hop empire, with each family member rapping, singing, producing, or managing in some capacity.  Terrence feels that using “nigga” on the show would add authenticity since it’s used in every day conversations within the Black community.  After thinking about this concept for a few days, I immediately got uncomfortable, but I couldn’t understand what was making me feel so uneasy.  After all, I use the word on a very regular basis.  Then I heard Taraji P. Henson’s interview (she also stars on Empire) and it made sense.  She said it perfectly; the world isn’t ready for that.  National television isn’t the place for it’s use, but if Empire were a movie or on cable TV, then it would certainly be added to the script.


So, I’m asking myself on a daily basis now: if the world isn’t ready, than what does my use of the word mean in my everyday life?  Am I a bad person because I say, “nigga”?  No.  I believe I fall into a category of people who really don’t think there’s anything wrong when using it within the Black community, among our peers.  Let’s be honest…the word has become a part of OUR culture.  However, I will admit that I hate when I hear any race outside of Black, using IT.  Hell, I even hate when I hear my Puerto Rican family members using the word.  Of course, it’s a part of daily vocabulary, but I can’t ignore the fact that I may be contributing to why it is so common.  What would happen if a prime-time TV show began incorporating “nigga” into its script? All hell would break loose; that’s exactly what would happen.


With so many tensions rising between police officers and the Black community and there being consistent reminders that racism is very much alive, it may not be that the world isn’t ready, but maybe it’s just bad timing.  The reality is, even though I feel comfortable enough to use the term loosely, there are people in this world who really hate it, are offended by it, are hurt by it, feel belittled by it, consider it to be racist.  I feel like those are the ones who we need to be mindful of.  Freedom of speech is an American liberty that I enjoy, but even reading the title of my blog post today, some may have cringed or gotten enraged.  Will I ever change this form of expression I’ve so openly embraced? Not sure.