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I am an educator, a paraprofessional working with special education students at an "alternative school site". The kind that may previously have been called "continuation" schools. It's definitely an interesting and fulfilling job.
 What I cannot understand is how a black woman, educated more than myself, having obtained multiple degrees, can say the used of the "N" word is socially acceptable. Perhaps I beat her at Scrabble because she doesn't know her root or base words well. This word she thinks is acceptable and claims to be unbothered by, came from the word niggard. What in the world does niggard mean?

Dictionary definition of niggard is:(n) a stingy or ungenerous person. I was raised to believe that somewhere in the definition was reference to ignorance. Her words were, "If anyone should be bothered by it, it should be me". My response was, "That's funny because I find it highly offensive and degrading. Oh and you don't have to be black to be one."  Suddenly I had made it a racial issue. Me? When? When I said you don't have to be black to be one? Ridiculous.

This female continued to press the issue and insist I was making it racial. Other staff in the room looked very puzzled.

I find this word offensive because it is degrading to anyone. I do not understand the way the kids throw it back and forth with each other. I hear no Hispanics calling each other "Spic", no Irish calling each other a "Mick", no jews using "Kike". Why choose this word to use almost as a term of affection? I don't know, maybe someone else knows and can explain it to me. If not that's fine, maybe I'll never know or understand it.  

What I do know is, when I hear it used I feel indignant. When I hear it used, it's never throw towards me, usually it's back and forth among my students. I wonder if they, the not yet fully educated, without any degrees let alone a high school diploma, realize how they are abusing their friends verbally. I doubt it. How could thy when Miss Multiple Degrees thinks it's acceptable?

Me? I might not have degrees, but I do have a world experience and a mother (passed now) who taught me that the word was unacceptable. A childhood friend whom I used call the "little chocolate" boy while he called my sister and I "vanilla" girls. Innocence with ignorance. Maybe that's what we all need so that nobody makes anything "a Racial Issue".
Maybe I just don't like to hear anyone degrade, humiliate, bully, verbally abuse or demean someone else. Or maybe, just maybe, I enjoy leaving Miss Multiple Degrees with her mouth hanging open after challenging my Scrabble words and finding them legit. Me without degrees, the ignorant one. Maybe I'm ignorant because I don't understand the widespread acceptance of this word and many others.
 Oh well, you know what they say, whoever "they" are. Ignorance is bliss.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Even when other AAs use it, it's usually in a (0+ / 0-)

    derogatory way.

    It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

    by auapplemac on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 07:03:02 PM PDT

  •  You are a professional (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    educator, and this is obviously a very important issue and concern for you at work, and you are making an effort to learn more about it.  That's great.    

    I'd recommend reading this book by Randall Kennedy - if your local public library doesn't have it, request that they order it.

    "Trust me... I've been right before." ~ Tea party patriot

    by Calvino Partigiani on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 07:10:41 PM PDT

  •  "Niggard" and "niggardly" (11+ / 0-)

    are not the "N" word.


    However, as white people, however distasteful we might find it to hear black people using the n-word to each other, it really is not our place to tell them so.

    Until you have experienced being black in America, you really have no right to tell black folk how to conduct themselves. It is a matter for people to sort out in their own communities, and when they want our help, they will ask.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 07:15:48 PM PDT

  •  According to the online etymological dictionary (12+ / 0-)

    the word niggardly has origins in medieval English well before Europeans came into regular contact with Africans. It seems to be generally recognized as not being etymologically the the later slang words derived from the Spanish negro for the color black.

    I southern US slang there was a verb made out of the infamous N word and it was spelled niggered. It has very derogatory meanings.

    It seems to me that you are confusing to different words that sound very much alike.

    It seems to me that the woman you are referring to may have known what she was talking about.  

  •  My mother also taught me that the word (3+ / 0-)

    was offensive -- and taught me that in no uncertain terms, when I was four years old.

    But I don't think the word comes from the interesting words "niggard" or "niggardly."  I think it comes from "niger" and from other words denoting blackness.  That's based on googling and the Oxford English Dictionary.

    That doesn't matter to the point you're mailing, I think. The word is widely accepted as extremely offensive, if used by anyone other than an African American, and maybe then as well. I know that Richard Pryer changed his views on use of the word, before his death, and said he wouldn't use it again.

  •  Not again. I'm sorry, it's late, but there (8+ / 0-)

    was an enormous issue about the word "niggardly" when David Howard used it before congress some 15 years ago. It is a proper English word, and an ancient one, in the OED for Chrissakes, and has nothing to do with Black people.

    "History", by the way, has nothing to do with men.

    Ignorance is excusable. As Americans, we live with ignorance daily.

    "To take another person's life from the bench is no better than to take another person's life from the street"

    by commonmass on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 07:31:30 PM PDT

  •  I see that the diarist's account (7+ / 0-)

    was opened less than a week ago. Look at the comment history she/he seems rather obsessed with telling people what language they can use.

  •  Yeah I call bullshit (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calvino Partigiani, shanikka, alx9090

    Communities with a history of oppression use derogatory terms for each other all the damn time. Black people are not unique in this case.

    Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole. - Ta-Nehisi Coates

    by moviemeister76 on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 08:13:20 PM PDT

  •  Here is why N***** is a term of affection among (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    At one time, an African-American's life could depend on how he or she responded to the N word.

    To combat responses that could escalate to a deadly situation, the community worked to reduce the reactions to the word.

    By using the word in friendly situations, the word did not evoke an immediate hostile response.  A person could evaluate a range of responses.  

    Within the community it could even be used to promote solidarity.

    The term "mick" has long lost its power as an insult, as have others.  Unfortunately, that is not true of the N word.

    Members of a  minority will often be signifying within the group by clothing as well as by language.

    The fad of no shoe laces and no belts (baggy pants) reflects  solidarity with those who go to jail.  When someone goes to jail those items are taken away from him.  It reflects that high rates of incarceration in the community.

  •  The words 'niggard' and 'nigger' (5+ / 0-)

    Are totally different words. And unrelated. Wikipedia even has a page about it: Controversies about the word "niggardly". However, even though I know the two are unrelated, I avoid using 'niggardly,' because I know many people don't know the word and will misinterpret my meaning.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 08:59:07 PM PDT

    •  Yep, me too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm too afraid of what people will think because of what it sounds like.

      Their cause must be our cause too. Because it's not just Negroes, but really it's all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome. -- Lyndon B. Johnson

      by AllTheWayWithLBJ85 on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 09:04:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I remember the David Howard incident well. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, Dbug, MHB, AllTheWayWithLBJ85

      I was going to school in DC at the time.

      •  This diarist is obviously a very nice lady (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        commonmass, Prognosticator, Dbug

        but here she has just as obviously, to use a phrase from James Joyce's Ulysses, "grabbed the sow by the wrong teat."  But the world is full of so-called "white" people who  are offended and feel discriminated against by how so-called "black" people can so freely refer to each other by using a term that strikes these "white" folks as being super horrific, when actually it is that only to them and maybe, too, to several "black" people who were only born yesterday.   Of course, many "white" people are delighted whenever they see "black" people rising to the bait with fire in their eyes, but that amounts only to doing the will of "white" racists.

        Any one seeing me would call me "black," and they would be surprised and even irate that I am as offended by being called that as I would be by being  called a "nigger."   But when I was young, back in the 1930's through the '50's, "black" was  as derogatory, if not more so, than "nigger" was, to the point that the latter was often used in the "black" community as a term of friendship and even endearment, while "black"  was the worst kind of epithet, as in, "You black s.o.b."

        But sometime in the 1960's that situation was completely turned around by the "Black Militants" like Stokely Carmichael, Huey Newton, H. Rap Brown, and the others, but not necessarily for the good.  For some reason they neglected to sanitize "nigger," too.   I guess the reason was that the dominant "white" culture could handle having "black" taken out of their hands as an openly  useful epithet,  and now it is only a secretly useful one.   But they couldn't tolerate having "nigger" being similarly de-fanged, especially due to the comfort of knowing that all efforts to coin a term just as virulent for them has never taken hold.

        And by the way, lady diarist, if you don't think other minorities use the derogatory terms for themselves to themselves, forget what you hear in your school and in your highly esteemed presence, and instead try joining, at the risk of assaults on your virtue, the U.S. military.  When I was in the Air Force, the Italian-Americans, for one, used "dago" liberally among themselves, but only among themselves and didn't look kindly on others using that term.  

        •  What you said. (0+ / 0-)

          I use Queer to refer to myself and several of my friends, and to my community as a whole. I can use this. People who are not Queer cannot use this in my presence and get away with it and had better not use it out of my presence, either. It is not theirs to use.

          Sofarsogoo, Sir, what term do you prefer that white people like me and other people who are not eligible to use the n-word as a term of solidarity and affection use to describe you, particularly your ethnicity? Because the chairman of Goldman Sachs couldn't pay me enough to use the n-word.

          An organ donor saved my life! Shop Kos Katalogue

          UID#39520 01/06/2005

          by Kitsap River on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 11:49:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  This diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon

    is completely misguided and misleading and needs to come down.

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