The “N” Word Is Here To Stay


1-Too_Short-20101203Yes my people!  This is true.   For some, this realization may be sad.   For others the knowing of this truth just may be real.  But that word is not going anywhere.  Not now, and not ever.

no-need-for-n-wordWe do have a whole lot of baggage around this word, especially North Americans.  This word has served to make us feel dehumanized.    The word has also served to make us act dehumanized.  Of course, I’m not only talking about black people here in the USA.  So we all understand how powerful the word appears to be.   I’m reminded of a joke Richard Pryor told long ago about how Vietnamese people first arriving here in the USA are taught how to say the word.   In the joke, the newly arrived immigrants are made to do drills of pronouncing the word and developing proficiency.  The punch line said, “if you get your ass kicked you know you made it”.   Richard was the truth.


What a word, what a word, what a mighty strong word!  So many people are using the word,  developing a proficiency with it!  Tweeking and twerking and twisting it!   The word is morphing all the time.   I’ve seen it spelled with a variety of unlikely letters.  The letter Q!  The letter U!  It’s straight Sesame Street up in here.   But the  letter N is always there.   That first letter is the heart and soul and marrow of the word.  Without it, the word is eviscerated!  Yes, that first letter is so important, that it stands on its own to represent the entire essence of the word.

The-N-Word-9780786158409 tumblr_lem8rkOICI1qflfago1_r1_500

The power!  The meaning!  It means so many things, to so many people!  I’ll never forget the time I heard some Vietnamese kids using the word among themselves.   I was in a Vietnamese sandwich shop near the SF Public Library, and a group of teens was using the word with abandon.   Punctuating their every sentence with it.  Each kid.  One to another.  Richard was right.   My jaw hit the floor of that little hole in the wall sandwich shop with a thud.   

QT Nword

Oh, that WORD!  It seems to have some kind of voodoo to it, where people can make a comeback, a step up, a come up and rise, all out of this one little word.  We often get so twisted up with just the utterance of it.  We fight against each other, or for each other.  The elders against the youths; the youths against the babies!  Some utter the word to show that they down.  Some to show that they hardcore.  Some to show they can hang.  Some to show they got cred, cool, skillz.   The word is so heavy!  There’s so much weight that it’s made to carry.   There are so many opinions and counter opinions, hatred against fighters, fighters against hatred!

Gwyneth and JayZ Nword

There’s real naivete, and feigned naivete.  Props and smack talk.  Friendships and enemyships are built and destroyed and rebuilt around this one little bitty itty word.

CNN Nword

Careers are built, destroyed and rebuilt on the power, (or perceived power) of this strange, dark word.  Rap careers, movie careers, director careers, writing careers, political careers, pimp mack daddy, and Queen Beez careers – all built and destroyed and rebuilt on this heavy laden word.

Nas Nigger Tshirt

Fashion careers,  high styling and profiling careers.  All on one little teeny tiny, teensy weensy, itty bitty, one letter word.


Only in America.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Lin says:

    First, QT needs his privileged white ass kicked, as does the Academy for awarding him w/ an Oscar when it just abused the use of that word COUNTLESS times. Yes, I know it was common back then, but DAMN… as a writer could he not have alternated it and used ‘darkie’ or ‘jungle bunny’ or some other prerogative? I mean, where’s his freaking WRITER’S IMAGINATION??? No. He LOOOOOOVES that word. Uses it fluently in EVERY one of his screenplays… then get rewarded for it? Check, please.

    It’s interesting that a word invented by one’s enemy to degrade, belittle or emotionally reduce an entire race people has become so overused & beloved in today’s society.

    Recently, on the street, I heard an enraged young Latino chico scream it at his Latina girlfriend, & thought, DAYUM! Is it like THAT now? Well, you can HAVE that word, papa.

    It wasn’t something I heard growing up in my household, so it never became commonplace.

    Truthfully, even today, I don’t use the word. It has never felt comfortable gliding along the regions of my lips or being spat from my tongue. I’m a creative cat, so if I want to go there I will say something like: “Jigro, please!”… and iff’n you’s country, “Jigro Bodeen.” But that’s just me.


    1. Anna Renee says:

      Oh yes, my brother. Lazy mofos lean reeeeeeeel hard on this word. They don’t have the inventiveness, and don’t have time to get it. A latino bro calling his chica “nigga”? Oh, that right there is that bullshit.

      La-zi-ness! Now personally, I’ve been known to toss a few expletives out there, but the N word has been checked off my list as being hackneyed. That joint is trite. I don’t do trite. Imma take Jigro from you tho, Never heard that one. I love those portmanteau expletives 🙂
      Interestingly, that N letter just keeps on carrying the weight of America’s anger, frustration, fear, pain and whatever else. They ought to give that letter an early retirement from the alphabet.

  2. Reggie says:

    Interesting post.

    You know, I don’t use the word myself as a rule. But I refuse it call it the N-word, it is what it is. One of the cartoons above really hit home with me because when one of my Caucasian peers at work made the statement about how African Americans use the word, then everyone should be able to use the word. So I asked her, why do you need to use the word?

    She didn’t have anything to say after that.

    1. Anonymous says:

      That’s the qualifier, I see. We know that they using the word anyway, just outside our earshot unless they got QT sized cojones on them

      1. Anonymous says:

        Doggone it! It’s me, Anna Renee trying to use my phone. I keep being anonymous tho . I need to sign in

  3. Carolyn Moon says:

    Anna, this is another one of your exceptional posts featuring a topic that I’ve wrestled with for years. Your statement says it all; “but the N word has been checked off my list as being hackneyed. That joint is trite. I don’t do trite”

    I don’t either!!! I’ve listed your blog on the website of the week and a link to this article. I follow you on facebook, however, I still visit here for your thought provoking posts. Peace….

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Thanks Sister! I decided to come back and start writing again. I intend to keep writing, but only from time to time. 🙂

  4. mary burrell says:

    Hello Miss Anna, I have been lurking this site for four years decided to comment. This was a good post. Yet with this same insidious word. Here we are again. This time with Food Network star Paula Deen. I am not surprised but it’s still telling about the mindset of most of white America. I feel this word will be here forever. It will not die.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Welcome Mary! Thanks for reading! I was feeling some kind of way about the word and decided to write this piece. I was reading somewhere and someone used the word and spelled it “Nuqqa”. I’ve seen it spelled other ways. It hit me that this word truly is not going anywhere because it has too much power.
      I even did a video about racists, which I will post – and then this whole thing with Paula happened.
      And I liked Paula too. Well, it is what it is.

  5. It’s really a hideous word. I try to not use it although when I’m angry I admit I’ve said it a few times. We all need to get it out of our vocabulary. But it seems white people have a very strange obsession with the word. But I think I figured out what it is. The talk about the “n word” s much because it’s the one thing we can say that they can’t. I think it really bugs the hell out of They get to do everything and anything they want on the planet except that ONE thing. And it drives them crazy!lol
    By the way Anna,I like a lot of your videos on Youtube. Yu usually bring up some great topics.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Thank you Young Prince!! Thanks for listening to me go on and on till the break of dawn! 😀

      1. Thanks a lot sis! I appreciate it. You crazy you know that!lol

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