Friday, October 19, 2007

Nas And the "N" word

I have a true confession; a white man has never called me a nigger to my face. (Notice I said to my face). But I have been called nigger a time or two by black people, some of them even friends of mine.

If you read this blog you know where I stand on trying to do away with that word. It's bullshit! You can't say you are going to ban a word by passing legislation, having a funeral for the word, or having black celebrities and so called leaders declare that the word is from now on not to be used by black folks. "We hereby declare that we will never use the "N" word again." Yeah, OK, whatever.

Now for the record, I don't use the word, because I honestly don't think it's a necessary part of my vocabulary. I can usually find quite a few other words to use in its place. And honestly, I would prefer if us black folks never used the word either. White folks, you should feel that way too. Think of all the white people that would be saved from getting their asses kicked for using it around us, just because they heard one of us use it and thought it was cool.

I though about this nigger issue, because the popular rapper, Nas, is dropping a new album, and I think the title of it will be "Nigger." (Although Def Jam might have something to say about that) Isn't Russel Simmons the President of Def Jam? Wasn't he all over the place recently talking about banning the "N" word? As my girl Angie would say; I am just saying.

So anyway, read the following excerpt from MTV news:

"I'm a street disciple," Nas responded, quoting one of his earlier album titles. "I'm talking to the streets. Stay out of our business. You ain't got no business worrying about what the word 'nigger' is or acting like you know what my album is about without talking to me. Whether you in the NAACP or you Jesse Jackson. I respect all of them ... I just want them to know: Never fall victim to Fox. Never fall victim to the sh-- they do. What they do is try to hurry up and get you on the phone and try to get you to talk about something you might not know about yet.

"If Cornel West was making an album called Nigger, they would know he's got something intellectual to say," Nas continued. "To think I'm gonna say something that's not intellectual is calling me a nigger, and to be called a nigger by Jesse Jackson and the NAACP is counterproductive, counter-revolutionary."

Nas said he hasn't talked to anyone outside his camp about the title, so he was upset to see that people are up in arms without knowing the story behind him choosing the name.
"I wanna make the word easy on mutha----as' ears," he explained. "You see how white boys ain't mad at 'cracker' 'cause it don't have the same [sting] as 'nigger'? I want 'nigger' to have less meaning [than] 'cracker.' With all the bullsh-- that's going on in the world, racism is at its peak. I wanna do the sh-- that's not being done. I wanna be the artist who ain't out. I wanna make the music I wanna hear.

"We're taking power [away] from the word," he added. "No disrespect to none of them who were part of the civil-rights movement, but some of my n---as in the streets don't know who [civil-rights activist] Medgar Evers was. I love Medgar Evers, but some of the n---as in the streets don't know Medgar Evers, they know who Nas is. And to my older people who don't now who Nas is and who don't know what a street disciple is, stay outta this mutha----in' conversation. We'll talk to you when we're ready. Right now, we're on a whole new movement. We're taking power [away] from that word."

It's nice to see that Nas is familiar with his history enough to know about Medgar Evers, and that he understands the nuances associated with the use of the word. Not to mention his recognition of people like Jessie Jackson and Cornel West in the debate. Besides, he calls out Jessie for being on FOX which gets him brownie points from the field.

Still, I wish Nas and his street disciples would hurry up and work on that movement so that they can talk to us. Because honestly, we want to take power away from the word too, and some of of us realize that we can't do it without them.


rikyrah said...

Oh FN,

Why'd you have to bring this up?

I'm pretty clear on this.



with this bullcrap about taking power away from the word Nigger. (I hate the 'N' word.)

Your Black ass canNOT take the power away from the word, and any such discussion, whether from Sellout Sambos like Nas and his ilk, or delusional misguided apologist PhD's like Dr. West or Dr. Dyson


What movement?

What movement can he be speaking of, FN?

Because, from where I sit, Nas is a Sambo Sellout of the highest order.

He is a willing participant in the Global Dehumanization of us as a people, so that he can get his 300 pieces of silver.

He is part of the Modern Day Minstrel Show called Hip Hop.

From the production of Birth of a Nation, there has been a concerted effort to project the image of the African, whether in America or around the world, as subhuman, less than, inferior savage.


It's always been that way, and has been part of the Propaganda wing of White Supremacy.


Standing out front, pointing to THOSE images saying loudly and proudly


THIS is the first noticable time that we, as a people, have a GROUP OF Black Folk, OUT FRONT AND CENTER

FULLY PARTICIPATING in our Global Dehumanization.

And, part of their hustle, is that they stand out there, putting out the front that they are the Ultimate Field Negros, FN.

When they know that they are shilling poison WORLDWIDE.


They know how to shuck and jive. The only MOVEMENT Nas knows is how to shuffle those feet so that he can get some of more of those pieces of silver.

People say what they want about Bill Cosby, but the Negro put his MONEY WHERE HIS MOUTH IS, for over the past 4 decades - IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY.

This ' movement' - don't make me laugh, FN. You know darn well this sellout has no ' movement'.

Angela L. Braden, Writer, Speaker, Professor said...

Field, this post brings out so many emotions in me. I think it's because my 61-year-old father told me about something that happened to him a couple of weeks ago, just the other day. When he told me, fury built up in my heart and I literally wished another human to be dead. That's just how mad this peaceful, all-loving sistah was. I was pissed.

My dad said the other day some white boys (Yes, they weren't men.) cut him off on the street. And then he said they were upset because he blew his horn at them. He said they slowed down to get on the side of him and yelled, "Nigger, don't you know how to drive?! Get the hell out of the way!"

As my dad was telling the story, my blind eyes nearly popped out of my dog on head. I couldn't believe it. He said that he told them there was no need for all of that. Well, he said the men pulled over in front of my dad, cutting him off, and then got out the damn car. Well, it's a good thing that my daddy is licensed to pack, because he pulled out his trusty pal and gave them a good look at it. Well, you know they got their a$$es in the car and got the hell away from him.

Later that night, hours after daddy told me the story, I was fuming. I couldn't believe that these boys would disrespect my father that way. I couldn't believe that those boys would talk to my dad, who is well-respected, kind, peaceful, and loving in that manner. I was mad that my father in 2007 had to be called a nigger in his old age. That's a crime.

Let me tell you, it's some white folks out here that hate us and when they say nigger, they mean what the hell they say. They don't give a damn about these rappers saying that they are taking the power out of the word. How you gon' take the power away from the word? You don't control the power? How are you going to remove what you don't control?

The reason why these young folks and so many stupid folks insist that the word nigger or nigga is not so bad is because they have never been called one to their face by one of these white folks that had evil in their heart for you. Field, I'm glad you've never been called a nigger to your face. I have. And trust me, it don't feel too powerless when you are getting called one by one of these white jackasses.

I'm sorry my post is a little emotional. Just thinking about what happened to my daddy sends me over the edge.



Anonymous said...

A few points:

Russell Simmons may have said that, but when I first saw him, a couple of years ago, he spewed the n-word like no one's business, so negro please, to him.

Second, he's no longer the president of anything. He's got stock in the company, but now it's headed by the ubiquitous L.A. Reid and Jay-Z.

I understand where Nas is coming from about the difference between him and Cornel West, which is weird because to many in hip-hop, he is a Cornel West figure. Controversial but extremely intelligent and perceptive.

But to say that they want to take the power away from the word insinuates that they want to take the power away from the powers themselves. Unfortunately, the people who birthed it have to kill it too. That's the reality of this oft-misused monster.

In any case, good post.

field negro said...

"FULLY PARTICIPATING in our Global Dehumanization."

rikyrah, don't you give rap too much credit (or lack of it) where this is concerned? I think there are other issues which contribute to the dehumanization of black folks, and cooning rappers is a very small part of those issues.

Still, I see where you are coming from. I just happen to think that there are somne rappers out here that have real talent and have some good stuff to say. (Common comes to mind)

As for this "movement" thing; ok movement might have been a little strong. But you cannot deny that there is a whole generation out here who aren't trying to hear what you and I are saying. Yes they do some cooning and clowning for the dollar, but we still have to deal with them, and they ain't going away anytime soon.

Angie, thanks for that story, and yes, it almost made me cry. Damn I hate that! (BTW, I stole your line, because you were the angie I was referring to)

Josse, thanks for the update on Simmons, I didn't realize that he had totally sold the company.

rikyrah said...

FULLY PARTICIPATING in our Global Dehumanization."

rikyrah, don't you give rap too much credit (or lack of it) where this is concerned? I think there are other issues which contribute to the dehumanization of black folks, and cooning rappers is a very small part of those issues.


I don't think you give it the credit that it deserves.

You're a worldly guy, FN.

I know you've done some traveling, as have I.

Answer me this, FN, what do we say about White folks in Idaho, North Dakota, Wyoming and the such about their response to us as Black folk. Don't we say, well, they don't know any better because they don't have any of us around them and the ONLY images they see of Black folk are on tv and in the movies?

Well, what images are they getting of Black folk, FN?

Be honest.

Now, are you going to tell me that THOSE images aren't being beamed, because of cable, internet, and the digital revolution all around the world.

When Nelly can promote PIMP JUICE IN SOUTH AFRICA,

don't tell me that the Global Dehumanization is in my imagination.

I've been to four continents, and I can tell you that those images are being counted. That the image of the Black Male around the world is Snoop, 50 Cent, Jay -Z, and the image of the Black Woman around the world are Video Ho's, L'il Kim and their ilk.

They are full participants for their silver.

PS-Angie, I feel you on the story about your father. If some White punk asses did that to my Mama...don't let me be near anything that could be considered a weapon, and on that, I'm serious. Your story also points out the ridiculous folly of the ignorance of those like Nas. What kills me is that they take up time debating their right to use a word that was invented to dehumanize us as a people. That shows you right there how ass backwards they are in their thinking.

I'm waiting for their ' movement'.

:birds chirping: :birds chirping:

SouthernGirl2 said...

"Well, he said the men pulled over in front of my dad, cutting him off, and then got out the damn car. Well, it's a good thing that my daddy is licensed to pack, because he pulled out his trusty pal and gave them a good look at it. Well, you know they got their a$$es in the car and got the hell away from him".

Good for your dad. The punks thought they could put fear in him. I'm furious along with you. It's a good thing when trusty pals speak without saying a word. Hello!

Nelson said...

The N word is a word that should never be uttered by a white person. What happened to your father Angie was horrible. He had every right at that point to pull out his gun. I’m glad he had a license to carry to scare those punks, no, those cowards, straight.

The biggest criticism of Nas has been the duplicity of his music. Throughout his career he has shifted from social critic to ‘street disciple’ to full out bling and hoes. This has been one of the biggest criticisms of him, and rightfully so. But Nas is no fool, and when he has been a social critic he is at his best. Nas has been very frank when talking about race and his knowledge of history doesn’t surprise me at all.

Was it different when Mos Def made his song, Mr. N****? Was it different because it ended with the letter ‘a’? Was it acceptable because it received less exposure? I don’t know the answers, these are just questions to spark discussion.

From one angle it is counterproductive, because white people will see it and think it’s OK. But they already feel that way. Take the Rep. Stark situation or the MoveOn controversy? Should we shirk from the truth because we know the Republicans will distort the message? Here, should we not use the term because the racists won’t understand the context?

I don’t have the right to say he should or shouldn’t use the term. I’m only reticent (just reticent) because, in a nation which only responds to shock value, it may have the potential to spark a larger discussion. The problem with most white folks today is they think racism only consist of words or the most blatant racist acts like burning crosses. Most won’t dare use the N word, but will completely ignore or minimize acts of racism, whether it’s the Jena 6 or the systematic incarceration of black youth, etc. That’s why they come to this blog and have all this misguided indignation at the name, Field Negro. Maybe they need to learn that racism is more than words and what contexts the words are used in.

I hear you rikyrah, and I’m not going to pretend I have a better understanding. I just want to hear what people think about some of these questions.

Hathor said...

I am with you. I wish we would give up that word. It wont stop the racist, but it will stop his excuses.

From listening to my son, I believe hip hop to be a musical movement not bad rap. I think it is more spoken word. I heard a jazz musician state that this is what evolves when music isn't in the schools. No instruments led to scratching records and that inevitably led to sampling then to creating beats electronically. Todays hip hop can be an entire electronic creation. Real technology. I think there is a name for that.

Basically what I am saying; it's the words that make bad rap or gansta rap! That's what we should speak to, not hip hop. One sure way to alienate young people and give them a reason to continue to rebel, is to trash their music en masse.

This is off topic. I didn't find much mention of Dr. James Watson's interview on conservative blogs. If it is such an even playing field, how can that be with people going along with Watson. You would think the conservatives would speak up.

Anonymous said...

Angie, I can't imagine what I would do if that had happened to me and I had a gun... I've never been called N*****. To my face, that is. I started getting shakey just hearing your dads story.

Naz is trying to take power of the word? He'd have more luck taking over Microsoft. That word doesn't belong to us. I have to admit I don't listen to "gangsta rap", if that's even the correct name for it. It's an excuse to say it in their songs and portray the "image" so they can collect. Just because they punctuate their rap with it doesn't make it a movement. And if that's the extent of it it's a piss poor movement. Why do we even entertain these people? Their motives are transparent. Yet we come down hard on others who are actually trying to do something for the Black community.

Let's stop giving the rest of the world an excuse to think it's okay to degrade us. Whenever the discussion of race comes up, the first excuse from whites is always the pointing of fingers at the rappers and comedians use of the word. They pretend they don't understand why it is offensive and try and downplay the issue. OR they try and hide under the umbrella of free speech.

We can no more take the power from the N word than we can take away the 400 plus years of history attached to it. It's a money maker for those in the public eye and an albatross for the rest of us.


Francis Holland said...

"I honestly don't think it's a necessary part of my vocabulary. I can usually find quite a few other words to use in its place." This is an equally good reason to give up the word "race" and replace it with "a few other words to use in its place," like "color/ethnicity group."

What's the difference. A "race," by definition, is fundamentally genetically different from other groups. It is a contradiction in terms to insist that you are a separate "race" but you are not fundamentally genetically different.

If you concede that you are fundamentally genetically different, don't be surprised when others treat you as fundamentally genetically different.

Can there be a "rational basis" for treating dogs differently than cats under the law. Yes, there can. Are whites and Blacks as genetically as distinct as dogs and cats? Actually, there is less genetic difference between a white man and a Black man than there is between a white man and a white woman.

I'm amazed that we were ever able to convince white to treat agree to treat a separate "race" equally, even formally. We must have convinced whites that, the word "race" notwithstanding, we were all human beings. But over 50 years later the word "race" is still with us, and for what good purpose. To remind whites to treat us as inferior? To remind Blacks to insist that we are fundamentally different from whites?

From "slave" to "free," "N" to "negro" to "Black" to "African-American," changes in the the status of Blacks have always been accompanied by changes in "names" we were called. "Race" is one of the names we are called, and improvements in our status, should the ever come, will be accompanied by our insistence that we are a separate "people" and a separate "color/ethnic group," but not a separate "race." Never a separate "race."

Martin Lindsey said...

Wayne, I 'm with Rikyrah and Angie. Having been raised by a mother who grew up in Jim Crow Alabama, there's no excuse - artisitc or otherwise - to try to sugarcoat the most offensive word in the American English lexicon. I'll leave that where it stands, I've written about it myself.

On another note, today is my first time reading your blog although I've heard about it for the longest. I am a new fan and you're on my favorites list. I linked thru from Paula Mooney's post on your interview in the LA Times the other day. Congratulations bro'! We are the new Black mainstream. Way to go in helping pioneer the effort to take blogging and the Afro-Sphere in particular to the next level of exposure.

Speaking of which, you and your readers are coming to the first Blogging While Brown conference in Atlanta next July aren't you? You'd be the perfect panelist and you probably have some organizing skills that would be helpful. Check out for more details.

Also take a gander at MartyBLOGs when you get a minute at for some "actionist" flair and have a great rest of the weekend.

Anonymous said...

Field you gotta check out the Fox News video where they are "debating" this. It's enough to make you want to murder everyone at Fox News. I wrote about it on my site but the highlight is them saying that the song "Hip Hop is Dead" was a hateful song and that when Nas performed at VTech he was glorifying the violence that occurred there.

As for the issue itself, I think it's a problem with some people because it's Nas. Like he said, if he was Cornell West and put out a book called "Nigger", everyone would be talking about how brilliant it was. People have to realize that the NAACP burying the N-Word isn't reaching anybody but the choir. They aren't reaching the people in the streets or on the corner. It's a waste of time. If you want to "ban the N-word" you start with something substantial and eventually the word will disappear. But, see...that doesn't get Al and Jesse good photoshoots and sound

James Seay said...

I think that people are just too hung up on the word. Like FN I have never been called a nigger to my face, but often I am called nigga by people of my own race. To me it is a term of endearment and encouragement. According to 2pac nigga means Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished and that is exactly where I am at!

Anonymous said...

Word Power?

Anonymous said...

To me, the n-word will always stand for something negative. There is no way this word can be made into a positive. As Black people, we need to find better words to use as terms of endearment. We need to stop trying to recycle words the slavemasters invented to degrade us. We need to stop using words the racists use to insult us.

field negro said...

"When Nelly can promote PIMP JUICE IN SOUTH AFRICA,

don't tell me that the Global Dehumanization is in my imagination. "

But that's the point, hip hop is a global phenomenon, and kids all over the world are embracing it. This is why we have to push artist to make positive music and not just garbage. Kids all over the world do look up to young American artists, and they definitely have a responsibility to themselves and to their art.

And rikyrah, I hope you see the problem with your argument. You just can't say what movement, and play down the importance of hip hop, and on the other hand marvel at its global reach.

martin, I will definitely try to make the Blogging While Brown Conference. I think it's a great idea, and I hope all the black bloggers get involved and try to make it. That was a great idea. I will check out your blog.

I think I am with LJ, and Hathor on this issue, it's just one of those issues that is hard to get a grasp on. Most people's gut reaction is to say; of course we should ban the word, it has an ugly history, and it is still used by racist to try and hurt us. But on the other hand, you have people like james seay (commenting above) who makes some interesting points, and whose view seems to be more reflective of this current generation.

Francis, there are lots of words we would like to get rid of. The problem with this one is that unlike the word race, people use this one to try and hurt us.

Anonymous said...

FN: Congrats for the well-deserved recognition from the LA Times.
Rikyrah: I appreciate your concern about the power of the N word and anger at people who still use it. But you sound like delirious white folks when as you make very faulty and dangerous accusations about hip hop and us as a people. What you say about Nas sounds contradictory to me. First, you say he's delusional. He, and I presume other hip hoppers who use the word, don't have the power to take the power away from the N word. Then you turn around and say he just wants to make some mone: To get his 300 pounds of silver. Well, if he just wants to make money, he's not being delusional at all. I think that, implied in your idea of the delusional Nas is the notion that he believes that he and like-minded hip hoppers can alter the concept of the N word, maybe not to you but to younger blacks and perhaps younger people world-wide. To some younger blacks,they already have. Now, many think of the N word in the same way that H. Rap Brown, a great rapper himself, thought of it when he wrote the book "Die, Nigger, Die"-- as a person who want take crap from white racists or black sellouts, who can't be bought, who would rather light up the ghetto in flames than be forced to live in it like a caged rat or a plantation slave.

You say hip hop is dehumanizing, nothing but a minstrel show. But to young black males, trapped in inner-cities, it is a genre they use to express their feelings about their social condition. To you, Nas may be a minstrel singer, but to others, Nas and others like him (to use poet Langston Hughes' concept) are "social poets", the town criers about what's going on in their community for those who care to listen. To the extent that they are sexist or vulgar, it's to that very extent that it represents, I believe, our (Black people, especially Black men)failure to translate more positive values to them and leave to them institutions which protect and serve them and the black community well.

Not having many positive black institutions to promote old school values, many black youth use hip hop for this purpose. This is hard to see if you only listen to commercial hip hop with people like 50 cent on the mic. But, from old school rappers like Public Enemy, Paris and The Tribe to Nas, a lot of these young brothers have used hip hop to learn history and to communicate it to other young blacks, especially our legacy of social struggle. Nas is just one of them. Does that sound like a minstrel show to you?

Last thing: You say Bill Cosby has supported black people with his money. That's true. But please don't hold him up as some great analyst of the black condition. There are two Bills: Bill Cosby and ole Bill. There's Bill Cosby, who makes valid points about how the black family needs to return to those values that helped us to survive -- and sometimes strive -- as a people. And there's Ole Bill, who steadfastly refuses to analyze why we lost many of those values in the first place: Why are there so few black males in family households? Why are there so few black institutions, businesses I'm talking high-tech corporations, manufacturing plants, fewer farms, not just barber shops and places to nails from South Korea) schools, banks, etc. owned by blacks, institutions that would constitute a serious black economy and making us a more self-determining people, instead of beggars at the door? Don't wait to find out from Ole Bill. He would rather go around on talk shows putting down the black family, or what's left of it, saying to the very people who deny the balck family equal opportunity in the first place.

You can have Ole Bill. But five me the real analytical field negroes like the James Baldwins, the Walter Mosleys, who provide a more balanced analysis of what's going on, not only with blacks, but in this country. If I can't get them, i'll take Langston Hughes, H. Rap Brown, Chuck D, Mos Def, and, yes, Nas. Blessings.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

The trouble started when folks like Nas started trying to put different connotations on the word, "Nigger" by swapping the "er" for an "a", to differentiate the use of the word.

I've been called "Nigger" to my face. By a white woman, no less. But she had enough sense to be running away from me before I could cock back my fist and deliver an Ali-type blow.

She made the mistake of trying it again in the workplace with a sista we all thought was a Mammy-type...until we saw her deliver that blow I didn't get the chance to do.

And she didn't get fired because the white management was looking for a reason to get rid of white girl, cause she was trying to get some guys for sexual harassment (quid pro quo, mind you).

I still say it's not what they call us - it's what we answer to. And I damned sure won't ever respond to being called a "nigger" with the "er" or the "a".

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

And Angie:

Your father sounds like mine. He packed heat whenever he took to the Texas highways, especially as a truck driver - it was the only way he commanded respect from those rednecks he had to deal with on the road.

And if those white boys had done that to him, screw blowing his horn; all he had to hear was the word "Nigger" and all bets would have been off, because he would have been busting a cap so they could go home and tell their parents a "Nigger" shot up their ride. I feel you on that one.

Christopher Chambers said...

Mac walton & Nas--come the f** on. Nas you are now a stupid piece of shit in my eyes now. And Kelis--a smart girl--married you? No, this isn't just a difference of opinion, you tomaito, I say tomahto thing. You are dead wrong. Sit down, shut the f***, sit the f*** down and maybe these misguided brothers on the "street" that is your "world" (yeah, right...your world is sending your assistant to Trader Joe's to do the grocery shopping so you can hit a party at Chateau marmont on Sunset Boulevord.

People, how long are we black people going to let niggers (in the Chris Rock) like Nas set the debate? I'm sick to death of it.

field negro said...

balance chris balance. mac walton made some very valid points. Of course Nas himself is living large, but what about the young men in the streets who mac walton spoke of?" This is important, becuase it's easy for us to say this music is trash and ignore what these kids are doing, but honestly, they are not going away, so we have to deal with the genre.

And Bill is not perfect, although I love Bill Cosby, he has his flaws too. Let's not forget that. Folks in Philly know whatI am talking about I am sure.

As I write this I am watching the BET hip hop awards, and all the artists are cleary on the defensive.

Unknown said...

Wow Africa (and the world) has indeed lost a reggae giant. I wonder if people out here are aware of Lucky Dube's Music?

Unknown said...

IF not go to you tube

Christopher Chambers said...

Balance, I hear you FN. But the reason I'm vehement and hurt is that we no longer have the luxury of balance. Weve pissed it away and yeah, folks on the spectrum of Nas and Prf. Dyson--even if they're intentions are "good"--do not help at all, period. Look, if our youth on the streets were killing and eating small children, would we sit back and say, well, we have to find a way to "reach" them, work with them, "understand" these trends, conditions, etc? Hell m-fing no! Crazy as this sounds, it's spiritually and symbolically close to that situation now. Lines have got to be drawn. Finesse is no longer an option. Empathy, yes. Enabling, no. Mac has got to learn the difference betoween the two, because if he doesn't I think you and he will find that there's indeed a "silent majority" of black folks who will slowly, quietly start forming a new ethic. Neither house of field negroes. Yard Negroes. Progressive on many isses but when it comes to this, we'll say to hell with Nas and the street and vote with our feet. The upshot of that is that we will no longer lament the plight of our brothers and sister. No, we'll cheer when one fool smokes another in West Philly, and urge more blood and walls. We'll say to Mr. Charlie "Give away free samples of Depro-provera in the corner stores and liquor stores." So you see we will suffer the death of our souls, too, unless soembody stands up and draws lines. Bright m-fing lines. Cosby has the balls to do this, like it or not.

I'm not saying all of this to be cruel or elitist or to curry favorite with Mr. Charlie. If I was, or many who feel that way, I wouldn't even bother to comment. That's the difference between us and these scum like Shay, like Ward Connerly et al, even Juan and yeah, SOMETIMES my fat nasty pal jason Whitlock.

When I did a book panel with actress Victoria Rowell, Post reporters Kevin Merida and Mike Fletcher (authors of the Clarence Thomas bio) this came up. Vikki Rowell said we must guide of our young people, not the other way around.

Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian said...

You stepped into a mine"Field" with this one, lol.

You already know how I feel.

Why continue making excuses for the use of this word...especially for those who are capitalizing from it?

You are like Michael Meyers...who said that nooses are no big deal... that they aren't harmful. The same historical context as "Nigger", etc... so should we allow nooses? Perhaps Katt Williams was wearing his noose as a symbol of Black pride (a symbol of endearment). Will nooses become a new fashion statement in a few years? I can see Black folks walking around using the excuse that "hey... by wearing these nooses we are taking the power away from the symbol". Hmmm.

Come on Field. As Rikyrah stated so well... you are a travelled, educated & cultured man. It would seem that you would know better.

And you say Hip Hop is a world wide phenomenon... that's the problem Field. It just means that these negative images are spread around the world even faster. The fact that Hip Hop is a world wide phenomenon means that it's the perfect trojan horse for spreading this poison. The fact that this stuff is mainstream is really what's killing our image. It means that young kids in Europe repeat the word "Nigger" (God Bless em) not really understanding what the hell they are saying...because they don't have any point of reference or context to draw least not in the way that we have here.

Hathor said...

The European black an brown kids do understand. Some of their rap is way more politically revolutionary.

China uses the old British word "nigger brown" to describe a color. That didn't exactly come from hip hop.

Michael Fisher said...

The word Nigger will never be buried until the system of white supremacy is buried.

I use it. But not as a term of endearment. I use it for Niggers a/k/a conscious and willful black collaborators with white supremacy.

Unknown said...

Once again it seems that ALL Hip Hop is painted with the same brush. Once again, it is being used like Don Imus as a scapegoat for what ails black folks, much like the blues and rock and roll was.

An aside, Bill Cosby can suck

Unknown said...

Cont.. a d**k. From what I understand, he was the main proponent of being color blind or not being recognized as black (I don't know about anybody here but the concept of being color blind is some ole bullsh*t). Now, when he want's to comment on the state of black folks he does exactly what white folks do: blame poor black people. Perhaps his message would have resonated more if he hadn't fathered a child out of wedlock or been accused multiple times of playing doctor with drugged young ladies, but I doubt it. Honestly, his hostility toward poor blacks is kind of his way of saying "nigger". Like the Chris Rock bit: "I love black people-but I HATE NIGGAS!!"

I think the main problem now with black folks is the generational divide. I see the comments on this post and see the blind hatred aimed a rap music and I see young folk tuning you cat's out. Yeah lead the young but movements don't usually start with comfortable fat cat's decrying "kid's these day's" It usually starts with young folks.

Don't alienate young folks by denigrating their art. Hip hop is world wide because it is a method of spreading the word of ones everyday life. You see spreading disinformation and a bad image I see spreading a part of black culture that gives young people worldwide a voice. Like NWA's original intent. They didn't start off glorifiying gangster ect. They started off as a sort of spoken diary on how things were in LA. And I will remind everyone who didn't live there at the time nobody even KNEW how the cop's and gangs were rolling then. Now granted the descended into self parody when the white-suburban dollars flooded in and they realized they could make major money doing gangster minstrel but again that's just one aspect of hip hop. Just like going to the movies, you have a choice of action, romance, sci fi, or a gangster flick. You would just assume that all movies were like Scorcese so don't assume all hip hop is like Fifty Cents et. all.

Honestly, some of you cat's just sound OLD and frikken crochety.

Anonymous said...

Hip hop is world wide, and young people don't view it as negatively as some have suggested here. When I was in Madrid, I ran into three local hip hoppers who couldn't wait to share their knowledge of hip hop to me, an African American male. They knew all the words to Public Enemy's "Can't Trust It" and Paris' revolutionary "House Nigga Got a Running High," a satirical rap about a black sellout and alcoholic at that which ends with a gun blast, suggesting that sellouts should be taken out. They don't go for 50 cents but old schoolers laid down the knowledge.

I do believe we should conversate with young folks about the N word and sexist and even anti-semetic words in their songs. I also believe we should learn more about hip hop so we can engage them intelligently. Learn something about the industry, such as how, for the most part, nerdy white from the schools of management promote not what's artistic but that what sells, which is how you get black women pumping their asses on videos to words about "bitches and hos." Learn about who's buying it: White adolescents in the suburbs, which is why you get brag rap over rap with a message like the old schoolers laid out. Talk to some of the rappers in your city but ask questions, don't preach. You may find that some of them hate commerical hip hop as much as you do. You may also find that there are a lot of underground hip hoppers who make artistic stuff but just can't get it on the airwaves.

But if you try to conversate under the assumption that you're the one with a monopoly on truth and that they're just ignorant, you'll be showing that the real ignoranmus is you, and you may get just what you deserve: Your ass kicked. Blessings. Mac

Joel said...

I might lose my membership in "the club" for putting this out there, but here's the dirty little secret of the "n word": white people say it all> the damn time these days. You just don't hear it. They may not say it to your face (though, as pointed out earlier, sometimes they do), but they use it in all kinds of ways amongst each other. Its use is definitely on the rise.

Anonymous said...

um.. white people's usage of the word nigger in and amongst themselves is not a secret.

Anonymous said...

This is part of the reason I don't listen to rap anymore. There is nothing in it that a mature adult can listen to. I just lost a lot of respect for Nas. Let's start calling ourselves the same racial slurs that our ancestors fought, protested, and died NOT to be called.

Anonymous said...

I'm on Nas's side on this one. His point about the license we give people like Cornel West is a good one. I'd put Illmatic up against Race Matters for anybody who wants to understand how race works in this country.

Donald said...

Don't hate the Player, Hate the game!

Anonymous said...

I think the fact that Nas has triggered such a conversation speaks volumes as to his legitimacy as an artist, and Hip Hop as a subculture.

Here's where I stand on 'nigger'

Joel said... point is that the whole "term of endearment" usage of the word has spread into the white world, to the point, i think, that whites who don't consider themselves racist get enjoyment out of tossing the word around... as long as no black people are within earshot.

Anonymous said...

to mib, this actually lessens Nas's value as an artist. It's not like he is the first person to voice this argument or even use that title to grab attention. Its an old, misguided argument, and no matter how "friendly" you try to make the word, it just isn't going to happen.

Martin Lindsey said...

People, allow me to offer some perspective from the artistic community in question. My favorite rap group of all time, Public Enemy, had this to say on their "Fear of A Black Panet" album/cassette years ago (CD's weren't quite the rage back then). If you will recall, Flava Flav had the lead on "I Don't Want to Be Called 'Yo-Nigga'".

This one group at least tried to deal with the issue at the height of their popularity in the 90's. Apparently the youngsters in the genre refuse to acknowlege the wisdom of their hip-hop elders. Maybe we all need to do some downloading and send them some P-E, KRS-1 and Tribe Called Quest classic compilations to help get their minds right.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with "NAS" on one salient point -- if a nigger were to call me a cracker, I'd beat his ass.

Anonymous said...

Actually, anonymous, Nas' argument has merit because the value of art lies in its ability to reframe reality in such a way that provokes exploration of our existence. I made the point over at Maxambit that part of self-determination is shaping reality and relationships to one's choosing. If Af-Ams are to accept
the traditional definition for 'nigger', then we're still residing on a plantation of the mind.

Anonymous said...

first of all, he isn't reframing anything, nor is he the first person to try this approach. This is an old, tired argument that honestly will never be agreed upon among an entire group of people. The reason why is because it is an individual choice. If you have no problem being called that and wish others to call you that, that is your choice. I don't have to agree with your choice, nor should it be expected of me to accept being treated the same way you want to be treated. This argument of "taking power away from the word" argument is stupid, old, and unrealistic. It's not gonna happen. If you want to be called a racial slur, fine. Expecting all other black people to accept the same thing is ignorant, childish, and misguided. As far as "plantation of the mind", bullshit. I'm simply an adult male who would rather not be called a racial slur. It's that simple.

Anonymous said...


No one has said Nas' argument is novel; only that it's plausible. It doesn't seem as if he's really concerned whether society co-signs with the notion 'nigger' can have a positive connotation. Which, to me, is as it should be. OTOH, your interpretation of 'nigger' as (I'm guessing) the ultimate epithet is your issue to resolve.

The most effective way to combat an idea is with another, contrary idea. In suggesting censorship as a viable strategy, you're either unprepared or unwilling to hold sway in a debate over 'nigger' -- which ultimately persuades no one. It's that simple.

Anonymous said...

First, I am not hailing the word as some kind of "ultimate insult", i'm just saying I don't want to be called it. Why is this so hard to understand? I am not trying to "combat ideals" or even dabate the "power of the word", I just don't want to called a racial slur in my daily interactions with people. Once again, if you want to be, fine, that is your PERSONAL decision. But don't expect everyone else to want to be treated the way you want to be treated.

Anonymous said...

Why does Common all ways come to mind? Has anyone actualy payed any attention to what hes been doing lately hes a selout to. GAP RAP?