There is an entire generation of young white people who are incredibly confused. I will take it upon myself to speak for them. I am not arrogant enough to think that I speak for all white folks, so if I offend, direct your anger at me, and not at anyone else. Also, throughout this essay I will use the terms black and white. I do this for clarity's sake; there is no real difference between black and white skin besides Melanin, but if people were logical this problem would have been solved long ago.
I came to the U.S. when I was 4 years old in 1989. Having been born in the Soviet Union as a Jew, I have no love for the country of my birth. To me, the U.S. is all I have ever known.
My generation is unlike anything in human history. Through the magic of the interweb, my friends and I grew in a world of infinite knowledge. We devoured George Carlin, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Bill Maher and Jon Stewart. (The last two never hang out; it's odd.) Yet nothing can compare to the influence Hip Hop has had on us. When I saw that Nas had a new song out about Obama, I wanted to be the one to mention it to everyone else.
It's not that simple.
I spent my entire childhood in Yeshiva. During my time there, I would spend my mornings learning the history of my people. Our flight from the ignorance of idolatry, our exodus from the inhumanity of slavery, and our inevitable return to Zion are part of the foundation of who I am. Furthermore, I was taught history during the afternoons, and I learned of the struggles of my Melaninful brothers. The two stories were eerily similar. Discrimination, experimentation, ghettos, closed doors and nasty names were our shared lot in life.
My parents told me to beware of antisemitism, yet I rarely encountered any. As far as I knew, racism was something that had died out in the sixties. I figured that all was well, and that Jews still stood shoulder to shoulder with blacks in the search for Zion, as they had stood during the upheaval of the sixties.
I discovered Hip Hop at the same time I discovered racism. I was around 11 years old, and had just gotten my hands on the new Nas album, Illmatic. Apparently, my speakers were too loud. This was nothing new for me, as my speakers were always loud. Yet this was the first time that my neighbors called the police with noise complaints. Unfortunately, it had been assumed that the neighbors making the noise were the black couple across the hall. The commotion that ensued changed me forever. If I had not been there to confess my deed...
In "The World Is Yours," Nas writes:
"I'm the young city bandit, hold myself down singlehanded
For murder raps, I kick my thoughts alone, get remanded
Born alone, die alone, no crew to keep my crown or throne
I'm deep by sound alone, caved inside in a thousand miles from home
I need a new nigga, for this black cloud to follow
Cause while it's over me it's too dark to see tomorrow"
It spoke to me. It speaks to many. During a week in which Obama has been endorsed by both Nas and Bob Dylan, I wanted to add my voice. It is because of his lyricism and the those he inspired that, to me and countless others, Nigger is nothing but the name of Nas's upcoming album.
It drops July 15, 2008. If enough people buy it, the media will be forced to discuss it. Nas wants to strip the word of it's bite and meaning. Let's help him.
There is an entire generation of white persons for whom the word is a term of endearment. We were raised on Hip Hop; it's not our fault.