The Evolution of the N-Word

There are two different types of “N” words. There is the one that refers to us as a debased, ignorant or very low person and a newer version which is now commonly used by a number of us as a figure of speech; a symbol of brotherhood. Although these two words are small, they play a huge negative impact on us as a race and the way mainstream society views us – as Blacks who can only survive by making a rap album, playing sports, selling drugs, or better yet, robbing and stealing. So question is; what are the “N” words and do they really define us? To answer these questions, let me share a history lesson.

The word Negro is Spanish for BLACK. The Spanish language comes from Latin, which has its origins in Classical Greek. The word Negro in Greek is derived from the root word ‘necro’, meaning dead.

The word nigger is a noun in the English language, most notable for its usage in a pejorative context to refer to Black people, and also as an informal slang term, among other contexts. It is a common ethnic slur. The word originated as a term used in a neutral context to refer to black people, as a variation of the Spanish/Portuguese noun Negro, a descendant of the Latin adjective niger, meaning “black.”

Historically, nigger defined, limited, made fun of, and ridiculed all Blacks. Whether used as a noun, verb, or adjective, it defined us as being lazy, stupid, dirty, worthless nobodies.
So knowing this, African-Americans dropped the ‘ER’ and added an ‘A’ thus forming a new word “N***A”. This word became very popular in Black’s vocabulary, because ‘the word now has a new meaning.

We mean it a different way’ is the obnoxious excuse. The same word that was used against our ancestors who shed blood has now been accepted and is being spoken by the very same people it was used against! The term is meaningless, and in reality, it has become a useful word for those who help perpetuate the negative stereotypes of Africans worldwide.

Why would we choose to use a word that degrades Africans everywhere and turn around and call someone who looks just like you, a N***A! We can’t possibly believe that we have the power to change the meaning of a word, and expect other people to follow along with this mentality. This isn’t progress my brothers and sisters.

I went to ask some students on campus questions about the significance of the word.

William Washington (sophomore major in biology)

Detrick Armstrong (sophomore major in chemistry)

Michael Bowden (junior major in Mass Communications)

I asked William, how do you feel about the N Word in General?

He explained, “I feel that in general he doesn’t like the word period in any ones vocabulary. He doesn’t understand why people like to use the word frequently, but when another race uses it, it’s an attack to where we feel threatened to fight which is totally wrong. The impact is tremendous in this generation and we need to get rid of the word and come with something new and come together as one.”

I asked Detrick, how much impact in your eyes do you feel it has here today?

He said, “It impacted a lot. Artists continuously use the word, and they don’t understand how much power they have over the young generation who looks up to them as role models. Also how they use it to a certain movement, he asked was it our fault that we were brought up to it?”

I asked Michael, do you think the word would be terminated for good?

He said, “Never because racism is never going to leave. It don’t matter how far black people come as a president, congressman, governor … I feel that racism is never going to leave in general.”

Now I just know that some people might pay attention to this article and some might not, but I speak my mind and say how I feel from the heart. Some might feel this is the wrong time to talk about this, but I disagree.

It’s Black History Month, the NAACP just celebrated its 100 year Anniversary and we have just elected the nation’s first African American President.

As a people, we really need to start seeing the big picture and start realizing the impact of our words and actions. We are not n***ers and n***as or any other derogatory term. We are Kings and Queens.

We are leaders and we have a voice. We have the opportunity to change how society views us – but it starts with you and me!