Disclaimer: If you’re offended by the word nigger or are uncomfortable reading or discussing race issues then this post isn’t for you.

Let me start this post by stating an interesting tidbit about me. I see color. Black and White mostly. I’m aware that I’m African [American] and I live in a country that wasn’t designed with me in mind. The fact that three different amendements had to be made to the Constitution to make black men (four  for black women) somewhat equal in the eyes of the law proves this. I also don’t believe we live in a post racial society.

I grew up in the DMV area and lived there most of my life. I moved to the south (Nashville, TN) one year after college graduation. I lived there for seven years. Talking with a lot of my friends about my experiences with racism,  they say that they would rather deal with overt racism of the south than the closeted racism of the east. Their rationale is that they’d rather someone be upfront about how they feel about them. I’ll tell you now. They’re tripping. I remember clear as day the first time a white person called me a nigger to my face. There was so much hate and animosity in his voice.  I was in Knoxville with some bruhs I was cool with for their homecoming. While at a red light a car pulled up next to us and the passenger proceded to yell racial slurs at us while they pulled up to the next block. At the next light the my friend calmly got out of the car walked over and punched the passenger of the racist dude in the face through the window. I swore we were going to get lynched that day. That was not the last time a white man called me nigger to my face.

I’m about 30 pages from finishing reading the Native Son for the fourth or fifth time in my life. This book which my blog is named after (click here) and while reading it invokes the same emotions as whenever I watch A Time To Kill.  The Native Son attempted to explain the racial divide in America in terms of social conditions imposed on African-Americans by a dominant white society. In my opinion not much has really changed. Sure on the surface America looks like a post-racial society but dig right below the surface and you’ll find screaming examples that prove otherwise. Today while riding the train home and reading I happened to look up and see a white man staring at me. For some reason I wondered what that man thought of me. How he viewed me. I started to actually get upset. Why? Because I thought perhaps he was racist and was looking down on me.

The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1865 which compared to now was kind of a long time ago. No one alive on this planet today was a slave or owned slaves but bear with me for a moment. Jim Crow laws really didn’t end until the 1960s (fucking Plessy v Ferguson).

Bet those little boys are still alive today

Now ask yourself how many people do you know that were alive in 1960s. Whenever I come across a middle age to older Caucasian (especially in the deep south) I wonder if they were out of the closet racists at one point in their life. I give the odds about 50/50.

My thoughts here probably won’t be the most popular but they are honest. I’m comfortable enough to admit that which others are afraid to confront. A lot of people these days want to sweep race issues under the rug instead of dealing with head on.

No questions to end this post. Just hope you take something away from it.


23 thoughts on “N*gger

  1. nowsayitwithme

    I don’t have an actual comment. I just wish you’d stop making me go into thinker mode.

    “I’m comfortable enough to admit that which others are afraid to confront. A lot of people these days want to sweep race issues under the rug instead of dealing with head on.”

    All of this. It’s like, people will act like racism isn’t alive. So as long as they pretend it doesn’t exist, somewhere in their mind, they’ve been convinced that it really doesn’t. The blissfulness of ignorance.

    1. simplysope

      “I just wish you’d stop making me go into thinker mode. ”

      I fully cosign that statement. It’s difficult to think about living in a system that didn’t/doesn’t have me in mind. I’d like to think that the fact that I am articulate and well educated is enough to distance myself from this, but it doesn’t, if anything it seems to make some people even angrier.

      The first and ONLY time someone called me a n*gger, was during my freshman year of college at The Univeristy of Texas at San Antonio. (What’s up with the Freshman year?). I had some roommates from Corpus Christi and obviously they had some issues with me that they never spoke to me about. I was attempting to take a nap before my Cal II class and they began insulting me in a conversation. The conversation ended when one of the girls said, “I can’t f*cking stand that dirty n*gger!” I felt like I had been punched in the gut, then I just felt livid. Luckily for them they exited the apartment immediately after the conversation, because the SWAT in me almost came out full force. I’m talking laying of hands, no bible.

      It would be nice to say that things like the ones shared don’t define us, because they don’t, but they certainly shape us. I always wonder how long the affect lasts, though.

      Great post. I was looking forward to a breezy Thursday, but looks like it’ll be a Deep Thought Thursday instead.

  2. Keisha

    Wow. My n*gger story is almost identical to yours. My friends and I were walking in campus in Knoxville and a few guys in a truck drove past us and called us niggers. If it had not been for us walking my story would have ended like yours. I must say that struck a nerve in me that had never been struck before.

    Im from the south and I try not to think that every middle aged white person is racist, although, it does cross my mind from time to time. After reading The Help it opened my eyes as to how some whites in the South are I overtly racist without thinking anything of it. It’s like they don’t even know they’re being racist or they probably just don’t care. But I agree it’s about a 50/50 chance that most whites who grew up in that time were “out of the closet racists”.

  3. Afrodiction

    The continuous self-doubt–and ensuing anger and frustration–is the most resonant for me. You don’t know what was going through that man’s head on the train, but, because of past experiences, what should be an innocuous commute turns into an emotionally stressful experience.

    I’m struggling with my own racial issues in another country, finding it difficult to blog about them. Thanks for the motivation.

  4. Tellylonglegs

    My first encounter with being called that was when I was about 6/7 years old. I was in the back seat of the car while my dad was driving and my mom was in the passenger seat. We pulled up to a red light and a car with two white men pulled up and heard my dad speaking creole. Before you know it I hear “Go back to where you came from nigger” and I saw the sadness on my mom’s face. 

    Of course at that age I had no idea what that word meant or why he said that but that’s one of those moments I will never forget. 

    Whether it’s overt or covert I wouldn’t want to deal with racism at all. But I guess that’s just a dream…


    Bro this hits home so much these last couple weeks. I continuously face individuals who claim that I’m hypersensitive about this issue, and till of late I was beginning to agree with them until I had another “Nigga moment”, in which a white female friend of mine called her dog a nigga in front of me like i wasn’t even there. Racism has not gone anywhere it has just become insidious..

  6. Me

    I remember being called a nigger for the first time, too. Freshman year in Indiana. Fitting, huh?

    I agree that folks want to sweep race issues under the rug; it’s clear in everyday media. But on a personal level, I’ve seen that more from blacks than whites. In undergrad, I would see us get racist treatment in ways seen and unseen, but we’d rather attack each other for getting out of line instead of “them.” And when I asked why blacks were so quick to talk all the sh*t in the world to each other but let whites do what they want, the answer was because “we expect that from them.”

    So that makes it okay? WTF?

    Man, I left.

  7. Silent Scorpion

    The easy was out of dealing with this issue is pointing out accomplishments of black figures in history. The latest being the President of the United States. Because of course, if we have a ‘black’ president, all of those people who were a part of the KKK or those who held more conservative views of race spontaneously combusted. All those feelings were immediately washed away. Schools are not longer segregated (this isn’t true), minorities feel welcome in all parts of the US (there are parts of the south I’ve been told never to go) and their is no glass ceiling (another lie).

    My biggest issue with people today (especially from my hometown in the west), are those who say they don’t see color. Because obviously discerning race in terms of color is a trait you must be taught, right. I’m not really black, I’m clear. Yeah. Okay.

  8. Mika

    My freshman year of college in upstate New York I heard a group of white guys using the “N word” and I was so hurt, I literally couldn’t function properly and I transferred schools. I think at that time I was naive to the fact that there was still blatant racism, being from a diverse place like NYC has alot to do with it and having many white friends….sometimes one can truly forget hate and racism exists.
    It’s just a never ending situation.

  9. Lioness Rising

    I’ve never been called a n*gger. I’ve also never really been to the South. I don’t count South/Central Florida as the South. My experience, especially having gone to PWIs for HS and college is the institutional forms of racism that we face. Lack of funding for African American studies or institutions at school etc. Or some kids saying something racially offensive and there not being adequate consequences for them. While neither is acceptable, at least this type of racism doesn’t make me feel unsafe because of my race. The only time I did feel unsafe was when I was in Spain in High School. There were two times that people just yelled something in the street. smh
    I remember when Obama was elected some idiot said that now no black child cannot say he had any barrier to succeed because Obama is President. wtf? People use individual examples are a representation of a whole group. Obama never lived in poverty and was born to two college educated parents. And I never understood “I think see color” BS. I have friends of all races but its not like I don’t see their race.

  10. Wu Young, Agent of M.E.

    I’m a life long southerner and I’ve experienced racism but I’ve never been called n***er to my face. (By a white person.) I’ve never felt unsafe about my race at anytime. The devil you know method of racism is helpful to keep tabs on those who openly hate you but as Lioness Rising brought up the institutional types are the ones you have to worry about. Institutional racists seek to beat you via paperwork.) There are still tons of racists out there and I won’t kid myself that they aren’t.

    1. Reecie

      same for me. I’ve lived in the South all of my life. Grew up in the once home/heart of the confederacy and have never been called a N*gger to my face. I think institutional racism is more affecting, even if its not as blatant. I do believe I have been a victim of that, even though I haven’t been called any racial slurs.

  11. Valerie

    I have never been called a n*gger, but I have felt as if someone actually uttered the word through their actions in general. Racism is very much alive and I am seeing it very clearly through politics. The fact that people are so bold to disrespect an elected official says that they will disrespect anyone. It’s pathetic, but we still have to “keep our heads” and continue making strides.

  12. chunk

    I am from a very red midwestern state. I am one of those people who says “I prefer that in-your-face racism” and I do. The subtle racism kills me dead. If I know you’re racist and you’re racist all day and all night, there’s no work on my part to recognize it.

    When you play liberal or egalitarian or whatever else is PC but really are racist, that scares me. I prefer a boogeyman I can see… and have a better chance at defending myself against.

    I’m so glad you wrote this down. Maybe I should read invisible man again… it was good the first time around, but I wonder how it’d be now. I really like this idea of reading the same book over and over… I have read a couple books a couple times, but no book more than 3 times….

  13. blackgirlmd

    Hmm… I don’t think I have a preference as far as racism. I’ve experience both. Overt is like a shock, and its very hurtful, I remember I just wanted to sit in my room and cry, I just felt so hopeless. Covert racism wears you down, and makes you paranoid, you start seeing it even when its not there, you feel like you’re going crazy, it messes with you.

    I oscillate between working my butt of to make this world a better place for my children and other black kids so that they don’t have to experience what I have, or just packing my isht up, moving to Africa and living lavishly surrounded by other black folk while doing global medical work.

    It sucks cuz you try to do all the right things, get all the degrees, go to the right schools, present you the right way, and people still want to place you in a box based on the color of your skin. Very disheartening.

  14. simplymerenee

    I grew up in Nashville, and spent my highschool years in the small town of Hendersonville, TN. I would suspect that if I were to be called nigger to my face it would have been then. Fortunately it never happened. Partly because most of the school saw my temper early on and thought I was crazy, and because I had a cousin on the football team that grew up in the town and threatened to kill anyone who messed with me.

    I did see someone else get called a nigger. It was in racist Hendersonville High School, hanging out before the bell rang for school to start. A football player decided to bump into the new kid and told him to say “excuse me”. When the kid (a junior from North Carolina) refused, the football player said “I said say excuse me nigger”. The new kid proceeded to bash the football player’s head into a brick wall repeatedly.
    A mini race war erupted, which was huge for such a small town. Not one person ever came at me, but the looks in their eyes showed me that they wished they could.

    I also remember recieving a tearful apology after practice from a member of the girls basketball team. (I was a manager) Apparently we were all singing a Nelly song and she said “nigga”. I didn’t even hear her, but she was scared that I hated her for letting it slip.

  15. La Grâce Personnifié (@FostersBaby)

    I am from Alabama. THE deep south. I was born into a middle class family in 1973, just eight years after the Montgomery Bus Boycott ended. My mother gave birth to me on the campus of Tuskegee University at John A. Andrew Hospital. As a family, we traveled to Montgomery quite often. My mother was (and still is) an avid shopper. The city of Montgomery was her shopping haven.

    It was a Saturday afternoon, in April of 1979, and my mother, my older sister and I were driving from Service Merchandise. My mother mistakenly pulled out in front of a car full of Caucasian teenage girls. The girls blew their horn repeatedly, and yelled out, “Nigger, you can’t drive!”……. I have never forgotten how embarrassed I felt. I was too young to feel offended. I was just amazed and regretful that there were people in this world that say such mean things to a woman traveling alone in a car with small children.

    I have never forgotten that day. I have never forgotten the look on my mother’s face as she opted to take the high road. Since that day, Montgomery has been a bittersweet city for me to visit. After I graduated from college and moved back home, I contacted several radio and television stations in an attempt to acquire gainful employment in the capitol city. I was hired at WAKA TV-8 in Montgomery where I worked for three years. Every time I drove down the Eastern Boulevard, I remembered what it was like only 20 short years ago, being on the receiving end when a person of non-color hurled racial slurs like they were casually changing lanes.

  16. Keona

    I’ve never been called a nigger to my face.

    I was called colored by a 60-something year old white guy when I was in undergrad. I wasn’t offended; his comment was actually meant to be a compliment, but I couldn’t bring myself to say thanks.

    The racial issues I’ve experienced were nothing like the ones my parents went through in the Jim Crow South, so even as bad as it was, I can’t complain. I participated in a boycott of white businesses in my hometown. I saw my high school lose more than half it’s funding when the white students decided all at once that they didn’t want to go to school with us anymore. I graduated from a university that until recently had a rebel as its mascot and cheered “The South Will Rise Again” after the band played Dixie at football games.

    But at the same time, I’m grateful that I was alive to witness my people uniting for a common cause during my city’s boycott. I’m glad that I was able to witness my alma mater constantly turn over new leaves in attempts to right the wrongs of its history. Nothing made me prouder than watching blacks and whites unite to protest the KKK’s presence on Ole Miss’s campus and to celebrate the installation of James Meredith’s monument. Although I was hesistant to relocate to another city with such a tarnished past, I’m glad to be a new Montgomery, AL resident. I’ve never witnessed any overt racism in all my 25 years in the South, but I have witnessed great progress,and I’m thankful to be a part of it.

  17. African Mami

    Ooooooooowi! A picture is worth a thousand words. That picture made me recoil, my blood boil and my mouth ready to spit venom. Racists are cowards that are afraid to face the truth of humanity,-that we are all equals- and instead to choose to hide behind a veil of hate and inconsistency.

    I’ve had racist encounters both here and the motherland. The motherland ones, albeit being more subtle stung the most. I HATE it when I see my peoples selling themselves short in order to get the approval of the white/Asian………

  18. nianaturally

    Good post!

    Like Wu, I am Southern born, and southern bred. And I’ve never been called a nigger to my face.

    Personally, I don’t prefer racism at all, overt or covert. However, the thing with the overt is that you know where you stand immediately. Covert racism is institutional, and much more insidious, to the extent it becomes a fact of life for some. Like the inner city ghettos just happened naturally.

    Honestly, I don’t put anything past people, which is probably why I don’t have any white friends. Classmates/colleagues, yes. Friends, no. And I’m ok with that.

  19. Sunshine

    Grew up in MS, went to school in Louisiana and Tennessee I have pretty much experienced racism from every angle accept physically. I have stories for days. I feel like my innocence was taken away in elementary with my first encounter with racism much like those little boys in the picture I never stood a chance. Exposure was inevitable. I don’t hate anyone but there’s no secret….racism still exists


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