The nigger is a slave – by definition and by choice.
In America, slavery is illegal. Voluntary servitude is not. Black self-identification as niggers translates as volunteer slavery. The Siamese terms of our bondage are inseparable. Among many of the youth I have worked with, niggers are reflexively defined as, “any ignorant person, regardless of their color.” Family members are no different – though many of my friends have ceased to call one another nigger. It’s one thing to choose not to use the “N-word” (as it’s euphemized) and quite another to refer to one’s self and kith and kin as niggers, niggahs and the like. The youth often call each other “niggah” and claim to call everybody else “niggah.” But upon closer inspection, they are more discriminating.
Niggers are not really female because females are “bitches.” A group of Black men would never say of any woman, anywhere, “Ooh, that niggah’s fine.” Women say that about men. Niggers are not really Latino because Puerto Ricans and Dominicans do not allow American Blacks to call them “spics” or “wetbacks.” It does not even occur to most Black youth to use those words to inflict psychic damage on Latinos. Niggers are not really white because this is their special word for Blacks and somehow “honkey”, “grayboy”, “caveboy”, “paleface”, “peckerwood”, “cracker”, and “redneck” just do not compare. Even American whites who call themselves “nigger” understand the context. They are “pop-culture hip-hop listenin’, Air Jordan wearin’, Philly blunt smokin’, suburban gangsta wannabe niggaaaahs” and not “to the bone Black, African, jungle bunny, tar baby, spear-chucking, ‘welfare as we knew it’ niggers.”
Slavery is when the nigger was born and the line was drawn. Black women were not, and are not, expected to deliver the death blow to white folk – at least not by white folks. Latinos were not enslaved in the United States. Whites were slave masters and slave makers. Niggers are Black men because they are the necessary slave; they are expected to fulfill Pearl Cleage’s noble ideal, “to turn the ship’s around.” Niggers, then, must be sacrificial Black sheep.
The ships cannot be turned around without turning the world upside down. Real, true, dyed in the indigo niggers are introduced from birth to their expendability because if you wanna hide somethin from a nigga put it in a book, niggahs is always late, niggahs don’t plan shit, that niggah ain’t shit, that little niggah ain’t nevah gon be shit, niggah pleeease, niggahs are stupid, you’re a stupid niggah, you’se about a dumb ass niggah, niggah’s cain’t nevah get it together, niggahs rob tiffany’s n’ fence they shit on ahun-twinny-fif street, a niggah can’t ask me for shit, niggahs don’t stick together, “ay niggah, lemme borrow twinny cents,” don’t nevah truss a niggah witcha money, niggahs can’t keep a job, don’t hire no niggah lawyer, niggahs got too many preachers, niggahs don’t know how to run a business, niggahs are afraid of revolution, niggahs ain’t nevah gon come up; niggahs is always bustin’ caps, niggahs stay in the pen, niggahs run this jail, niggahs run the NBA, niggahs don’t vote, you can’t trust a niggah, niggahs can fuck and that’s all, niggahs always die first in the movies, niggahs don’t study, niggahs ain’t organized, niggahs keep it reeeal, all niggahs want is good pussy, comfortable shoes, and a warm place to piss, “yo’ what up niggaaaahh,” niggah is really a term of endearment, I love my niggahs, I love all you little niggahs, ya’ll niggahs is my only family, niggah’ is just a word, that’s my niggah, you my niggah, ya’ll my niggahs, I can’t stand that niggah, who you callin’ a niggah, bitch!! – yo mama’s a niggah, I’ma kill that niggah…
“Who needs the Nigger?” America still has uses. Niggers and slaves continue to serve a purpose. Blacks define the limits of white freedom. Our ends where theirs begins. “Hey you can do that to the niggers, but you can’t do that to us!!” Gandhi said as much during his time in South Africa. Black communities serve as toxic dumping grounds. Black women and children are used by the medical community to test experimental drugs or the effects of radiation. Divine Brown and others in high demand break taboos for a fee. Black men remain the expendable foot soldier, the cannon fodder of America’s many wars, foreign and domestic. While American whites comprise the majority of American drug users, local, state, and federal police restrict the bloody traffic in narcotics to Black communities. Washington Heights, an immigrant community of Africans formerly enslaved in the Dominican Republic, sits at the junction of three major highways. This cocaine-infested neighborhood services drug users from quiet, pristine suburban counties in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Domestic wars and foreign conflicts have been led by men who understand the strategic deployment of expendable populations. In the so-called Revolutionary War, a reactionary General Washington allowed Black soldiers to fight for freedom, following the intrigues of England’s Lord Dunmore to emancipate Black volunteers. Many Blacks craving freedom joined American loyalists in support of the British crown. In the Civil War, not-so honest Abe Lincoln, ever the student of history, followed in the footsteps of Lord Dunmore and promised freedom to slaves living in states in rebellion to the Union. Lincoln’s act was a partial emancipation. As recently as Vietnam, Black men representing a mere six percent of the civilian population constituted 30 percent of the war’s casualties. Today, American Black “fighting age boys” are gunned down in America’s misguided War on Drugs at a rate greater than soldiers in World War II.
Soon Black people will cease to self-identify as niggahs. Black mental health cannot co-exist with the soul assassination inherent in the word. Effective and authentic Black leadership is beyond the creative capacity of self-proclaimed niggahs. The discipline and respect required to find another name for self, father, uncle, son, brother and friend is nothing compared to challenge of building a new black world. Black men, the definitive niggah, will no longer to “Niggah!” like it’s a first name. Until then, our racial reconciliation must wait. In the interim, we should expect to be disrespected by all peoples of the world. That is a small price to pay for our own naked contempt. The ultimate price may be the rebuke of our elders and ancestors – and our God.