by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson
Warning: Uncensored language in this post.
Grabbing lunch one day in my work cafeteria, I requested a bacon cheeseburger.
“Sorry,” the guy behind the counter said, “no swine.”
I nodded, but must have had a quizzical look on my face because he then asked me if I knew what swine was. I told him that I did and he asked me why I looked puzzled. I told him that saying “swine” for “bacon” is kind of like sayng “negro” for “black” – it’s correct, but that is not the word we are accustomed to hearing.
As I compared the terms, the counter guy paused.
“I’m not black, I’m a nigga.” He said.
The other two black guys around him (one behind the counter with him, the other waiting on a sandwich like I was) chuckled.
“That’s nigga, n-i-g-g-a, not er,” the other guy behind the counter clarified.
I didn’t know what to say, so I said thank you, took my swineless burger, and went back upstairs to my office.
That was last week. (Incidentally, the same week I found myself browsing a recent issue of Vibe at the newsstand and saw Mary J. Blige self-identify the same way.) I’m still thinking about why a person would reject the word black and self-identify as a nigga. (No “er” for those of y’all keeping track.)
Are we supposed to be reclaiming this word, in the vein of “queer” and “cunt?”
I have heard that argument before but I don’t quite buy into it, especially as the word still has race based negative connotations.
Carmen pointed me toward this facebook group earlier in the week. The group’s manifesto explains:
Fuck mainland guys u made beautiful educated HK pipo shameful. We are different from this disgrace peices of shits, here i clarify that these niggers are not a part of us, although they are our brothers, we dont wanna accept this brainless guys. Sometimes I see some of these retards i just wanna put my fist in their face and fuck these guys up man fuck!
I’ve even saw some nigger Mainlanders steal ketup in Mcdonalds so they dont have to buy, fuck U!! Shame on you and ur family for 5 generations…..
In her email to me, Carmen explains:
To me clearly they do it because that’s the worst possible insult they could come up with: they’re all chinese, so saying “chink” doesn’t cut it. But by relating them to blackness and using the n-word, it’s the ultimate insult.
(For those of you who erroneously think that the word nigger did not originally have racial connotations, Jabari Asim has a book for you.) Continue reading