Am i allowed to Say "Nigga"?: A Comprehensive Starter Guide for Those Who Don’t Know
This is a brief overview for non-Blacks that say “nigga” AND for Black people who give out Black passes to say “nigga” to their non-Black friends like AMNY Newspaper is passed out on a weekday in a subway station at 8am.
At the bottom of this page, I have also included a 10 question “Am I Allowed to Say ‘nigga’ Quiz” to test your comprehension.
This starter guide consists of the following topics, “AFFINITY TO BLACK CULTURE AND MUSIC, RACIALLY AMBIGUOUS, MIXED, AND LATINA USAGE, REGIONAL ACCEPTANCE, and BLACK BY ASSOCIATION.”
I am a Black man. But hold up? Am I a Black man? What does being a Black man mean? I did the DNA gene mapping and my father is 91% Sub-Saharan African, 6% East Asian, and 3% European. My mother is 69% Sub-Saharan African, 25% European, and 6% Indigenous American. Does that mean that I’m mixed? Could I pass for White, East Asian, or Indigenous American? Technically, all Black Americans are “mixed”. See how complicated this pesky “race” thing can get already?
Now, remember, this is just a brief overview. Books have been written on the “N Word”. I suggest if you don’t want to read this starter guide and want a thorough, in depth education on this topic, go immediately to Amazon, your local bookstore, or Kindle and read the following books:
Otherwise, continue reading.
AFFINITY TO BLACK CULTURE AND MUSIC.
Are you non-Black? Have any of these thoughts come to mind?...
I am not Black. I have Black friends. I grew up in a Black neighborhood and I identify with Black culture. I love hip-hop, and hip-hop music. Black people say it to Black people all of the time. Plus, it’s in song lyrics meant for mass consumption. I should be able to sing along to “Niggas in Paris”, or any song using the word because it’s music. Music is the universal language!
If you've had those thoughts, let me explain a key element on “nigga” word saying permission. Adoring Black culture, having extensive knowledge, or having a deep appreciation and love of Black culture is not the same as being Black. Therefore, it is disrespectful and highly inappropriate to say “nigga”. I’m a Black man. Let’s say I was born in Israel to Black parents and Hebrew was my first language, I move to America, have a Bar Mitzvah, I become a Rabbi, I dedicate my life to Jewish rights… As a Black man born in Israel. It is unacceptable to say “kike”. If I was born in Hermosillo, Mexico to Black parents, Spanish is my first language, I fight for Mexican immigration rights, I marry a Mexican woman, and change my last name to Iñarritu, I celebrate the Mexican army's victory over French military forces on the fifth of May every year. It would STILL be unacceptable to say "wetback" or "spic". Deep inside, I believe that most non-Black people know that it's unacceptable, but try to justify it by saying, "the meaning has changed. It's just like saying 'homey' or 'buddy'. It's just slang". This manner of thinking is a myth along the lines of unicorns existence. The brilliant TV show "Atlanta" did an excellent job with showing how much nigga = homey is not the case.
No. Nigga does not equal homey by any means.
RACIALLY AMBIGUOUS, MIXED, AND LATINA USAGE.
Kehlani has a song entitled, “Niggas”:
But if you look at Kehlani, you may wonder. Is she Black, is she Latina, what is her ethnicity????
According to her HOT 97 interview with Peter Rosenberg on March 30, 2015, Kehlani said that her ethnic background is "black, white, Native American, and Spanish". The first thing she said was “Black”. Above, I told you “my father is 91% Sub-Saharan African, 6% East Asian, and 3% European. My mother is 69% Sub-Saharan African, 25% European, and 6% Indigenous American”. Technically, I could tell people that I’m mixed and give the percentage breakdowns, but I won’t. I’m Black. But with Kahlani, Black is in her blood. She claimed it and she accepted it. Apparently her father was Black. However, the gray area comes in when people from a Spanish speaking geographic region say “nigga”. Some Dominicans and Puerto Ricans don’t identify as Black at all. According to the 2010 census, 75% of Puerto Ricans claimed that they were indeed “White”. Only, 12.4% claimed Black or African American
In this case, it is more of a mix of how you identify and what you claim. I know Dominicans who have darker complexions than me who have told me, “I ain’t Black.” I also know some Dominicans who said they are “White” who are darker than me as well. There are successful artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Fat Joe, and Big PUN (R.I.P.) who definitely identify with their African roots. Remember, the transatlantic slave trade made stops in the Caribbean, South America, and North America. Basically here, Black is more than likely in your blood, what determines the proper usage here is whether or not you identify and claim it. Oh yeah, you must identify and claim Black around ALL ethnicities on a consistent basis. It’s up to you! However, if you look like Tego Calderon you can say “nigga”, if you look like Ricky Martin, you cannot say “nigga”.
I was living in New York when I first heard "Gucci, Gucci" by Kreayshawn. I’ll be honest. I liked it. Not enough to download the song and listen to it at my leisure. But it was a bearable track. The lyrics, and hook were hella catchy and it had great production. Then it came to light that her associate and frequent collaborator V-Nasty said “nigga” in her music. In a 2013 interview with VLAD-TV, V-NASTY admitted her ignorance about the “N-word”
The general consensus was, “It’s a Bay Area, Northern California thing”. In a 2011 XXL article http://www.xxlmag.com/xxl-magazine/2011/11/v-nasty-defends-her-use-of-the-n-word/
V-Nasty exclaimed “They’re used to it, they don’t give a fuck, you feel me?” she says. “What, ’cause of my skin I can’t be ghetto?… In Oakland it doesn’t matter.”
What V-Nasty also explained was that Oakland has a different culture and she was unaware that people in other cities across the nation didn’t use “nigga” so freely because she had not been anywhere else but the Bay Area. I had conversations with people I know from Oakland, and the Bay Area and they told me that it is indeed common for non-Black people to use the N-word there. Pacific Islanders, Latinos, and the occasional White person as well. I am not naive. I know how popular hip hop culture and rap music is globally. It has supreme influence on fashion, slang, music, and even politics. I know that when Kanye sells out Madison Square Garden, it’s not filled with only Black people. I know that non-Black people say it. I know it’s more accepted in some geographic regions than others. However, if you’re a Vietnamese woman, and you go to Vine City or Bankhead in Atlanta. Try this, approach on the first Black person you see. Say the following:
“Good morning my nigga, I’m from Oakland. Where can a nigga like me get something to eat around here?”
See what happens. With all of the technological advances in the world and social media, the world is really small. Information abounds from all over the Earth. It is wise to be knowledgeable of the world, especially your own specific country about regional differences. Also, don't be that person who goes to Brazil and gets upset because most people there don't speak English. Don't be ignorant. Be informed. Be aware.
BLACK BY ASSOCIATION.
For some strange reason, some non-Black people think because their best friend is Black, or their significant other is Black, that they somehow inherited all things Black in perpetuity in the universe forever and ever, eternally. Amen... No. Under no circumstances whatsoever is it appropriate to ever say “nigga” if you’re not Black. Period. It doesn’t matter if you adopt Black children. It doesn’t matter if you only date Black men or Black women all your life. It doesn’t matter if you got a kidney transplant from a Black woman. It doesn’t matter if you are born White then get melanin shots to alter your pigmentation to get a darker complexion. It doesn't matter that your best friend is Black. The word “nigga” should never be in your lexicon. A Black woman I used to date, had only dated two Black men up to when I met her, we were both 25 years old. I was the second Black man that she ever dated. It didn’t work out between us, but she continued to date White men. She ended up moving to Europe with one around the time Trayvon Martin was murdered. She expressed her disgust and pain from that situation and her White significant other responded with apathy and racial insensitivity. It was on that day, that she became Colin Kaepernick-type woke, even up until present day. She realized that he was comfortable enough with her to think he could say anything to her. Even racial epithets. He thought he was Black by association. Even the great lyricist Eminem was put on by Black rappers, in a rap group where he was the only White rapper, and he has sold millions of records. However, he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he will not or ever say “nigga”. It is also evident that some non-Black people love to see us dance, act, sing, create art, invent, lead, set trends, make music, et cetera, but if you are not Black, you can never be Black by any means. You cannot cherry pick aspects of Blackness. You cannot choose which aspects of our culture that you want to adopt then appropriate our culture for profit without that being considered wrong. It is unacceptable and irresponsible to be non-Black and say “nigga” because you think it’s cool slang. It is unacceptable and irresponsible to be a non-Native American and adorn tribal headdresses because you think it looks cool, also.
This concludes the starter guide.
Here are a few supplementary materials to further jump start your education on the word “nigga” for non-Blacks:
Ok, Now, you’re ready!
Below is a 10 question quiz. You can test your comprehension now.