Fri, Mar

Using The N-Word


WHO WE ARE-Somehow it has become acceptable to use racial slurs as long as they are directed at yourself. The fact is they are rarely directed at you but to someone else. The most glaring example of this is the use of the N-word. I need say no more because we all understand what the N-word is. 

The extensive use of the word in modern hip-hop and rap music has served to allow this vile word, which was created during the slavery of African-Americans, to become commonplace. By making insults commonplace they serve to insult the history of African Americans in the United States. The economic benefits which go to successful rap and hip-hop artists are being made at the expense of an entire race of people. 

The hip hop world tells our youth they have no credibility in the world of hip-hop or rap unless they have been arrested and incarcerated. If you are being continually arrested and incarcerated for your actions, you're not a very good criminal. To encourage our youth to be bad criminals is leading to the acceptability of incarceration as a lifestyle. The low hanging pants worn by many of our youth today demonstrate this incarceration lifestyle.  There are no belts in prison. 

While it is easy to blame the artists using the word, it is the recording companies and distribution outlets that profit from the continuing denigration of an entire race of people. In most circumstances the use of the word is intended to show a lack of respect for the person the worst directed at. When you show a lack of respect for your neighbor you show a lack of for yourself. This is what is being promoted the young African-Americans as a culture. 

I must confess, as an African-American, to being quite sensitive about the use of the word because my parents were raised in Birmingham Alabama in the 1930s and 1940s. The use of the word was no joke and came with serious consequences in general for black Americans.  The word was banned from my house as a youth because it had the same power as the F word. Perhaps those utilizing the word so broadly should understand the basis from which the word came.

Is it now okay for whites to call blacks the N-word? The same people using the word so wantonly will be the first ones ready to fight if called the N-word. African American hip-hop artists are seeking to block the use of the word by anyone other than African-Americans. How can you seriously expect the rest the world to understand the hurt that the word has caused when you minimize its effects by utilizing it so freely in your music and entertainment? 

The broad access to media that is given to rap and hip-hop artists allows for the continuing use of a word that has cost many lives in the African-American community. While we argue about the use of the Confederate flag we excuse the use of a word developed by those who fly the Confederate flag. 

The Confederate flag is a symbol of the attempt to maintain slavery as an American way of life. The use of the N-word is a show of support for those that covet the Confederate flag. Are the rappers and hip-hop artist now going to start displaying swastikas in the music? The answer is simply no because no other race or religion in the United States is going to allow for the broad-based insult to their suffering. 

The disrespect we show for ourselves is mirrored in the society in which we live. You cannot expect respect from others when you do not respect yourself. The disrespect that is bred in our children is done with the assistance of major corporations and media throughout the United States. They continue to make large profits with records, tours and videos that encourage young African-Americans to insult their heritage and culture. 

I will certainly not claim the high road because I have used the word myself as well as others that are even worse. I would not however stand on a rooftop and scream it out to others to make a profit. 

Once again it comes down to the very simple situation that black America does not control the images that define it as a race in this country. Without the ability to control that image we cannot control the behavior of our children as is demonstrated by the incarceration rate of young African-American men.


When we allow this historical insult to be drilled into the minds younger African-Americans as acceptable we are allowing our history to be forgotten. Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.


(Clinton Galloway  is the author of the fascinating book “Anatomy of a Hustle: Cable Comes to South Central LA”.    This is another installment in an ongoing CityWatch series on power, influence and corruption in government … Corruption Watch. Galloway is a CityWatch contributor and can be  reached here.






Vol 13 Issue 53

Pub: Jun 30, 2015