Nigger

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"Misto Bradish's Nigger", 1885 illustration from Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. At that time, the word simply meant black person and did not have its current meaning.

Nigger is a word which refers to black people. Today, it is often treated as a racist insult, as often compared to "nigga" used in pop culture slang. Before the early 1900s, the word "nigger" was simply used to mean a black person (from negro) and was not considered racist, while the old term "black" was disliked and replaced with the word "colored" and later, with the wider covering term "people of color". In the United States the slur is mainly used by white supremacists as a prejudicial to African Americans of slave origin.[1]

The word came from a slang pronunciation of "negro", which is the word for the color black in Spanish and for black people in Portuguese .[2] Writers such as Joseph Conrad, Mark Twain,[3]</ref> and Charles Dickens used it. When they used the word, they meant black person. "Nigger" was usually used in the Southern part of the United States, where blacks were at one time kept as slaves.

Today, the word is an offensive racial slur in English, and is often considered to be hate speech. "Nigger" has become so taboo in the United States that some people don't use the word; they instead call it the "N-word".

Pop culture[change | change source]

Back in the 1980s and 90s, the word was used by many hip hop artists, one of them was NWA, which stands for ‘Niggers with attitudes’. Their 1988 single ‘Straight Outta Compton’ used the word, which made the group’s other hits controversial. One being ‘F**k Tha Police’, which showed the group didn’t like the police. Other rappers, such as XXXTentacion, real name Jahseh Dwayne Richardo Onfroy, used the word in most of his tracks, one of them being ‘Bad Vibes Forever’, released in 2019.

References[change | change source]

  1. Starkey, Brando Simeo (18 May 2017). "If you truly knew what the N-word meant to our ancestors, you'd NEVER use it". The Undefeated.
  2. Pilgrim, David (September 2001). "Nigger and Caricatures". Retrieved 2007-06-19.
  3. Twain, Mark (2004). Life on the Mississippi. Kessinger Publishing. p. 11, 13, 127, 139, 219. ISBN 978-1-4191-3041-0.