Ok my brothers and sisters I know this doesn't relate to religion so much but it is something that should get us all thinking about the way black people use the 'N' word. Are we dissin our past and perpetrating in our own oppression or are we merely stealing back a word that has been used against it? This is Def Poet Julian Curry and this is a real hard hitting poem and maybe it can help you make up your mind.
One Love,

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Yes it is. I'm his brother for anyone who doesn't see the resemblance. I'm better looking. lol

Many of the young men I work with in London gangs are increasingly becoming affiliated to radical Islam because Al Quaeda recruiters are funding their illegal activities in order to gain new recruits. I am increasingly coming across gang disputes between Muslim gangs and non-Muslim gangs and acts of retribution are being styled on Sharia Law type punishments. However many of these Muslim gang members started off as Christians but radical Islam has become the new gangsta rap in South London particularly. They are using rap to spread their message also, but one of hatred not peace and reason like Greydon. Increasingly young black males particularly are being drawn into the Islamic 'gangsta' lifestyle which combines crime and Islamic extremism. Islamic recruiters are preying on poor black men who seem to have no purpose, it is very sad. Here is an example of how rap music can be used by our opposition:

This is so disturbing, I can't express it.
I've wanted to express in other settings that it's not OK to use the n-word, even when quoting others' use. I've met with opposition on that issue, due to free speech concerns. This puts the onus on the speaker to convince people, who they have never met, who they cant see (because on the internet), and who they know little about, that they are not racist, and understand the dehumanizing impact of the word.

Communities need to be careful about their use of a word, because it appears to make it "OK" for people who are not within those communities to say it. I've heard plenty of white or otherwise not-Black people state to me, they see the word used all of the time by Black comedians, by people who they see talking to each other, and in movies. So they think that this is an excuse to use the terminiology whether they themselves are racist or not.

I've tried to comment when I see use of language in an ironic, or quoting manner. People know what we are talking about when we use euphemism or ****'s, so it's not necessary to be explicit. I don't want to cross the line into censorship, either, so it's a fine line.

I'm really glad that this topic was brought up. I think it needs to be in the Race & Ethnicity forum as well, in some way.
The real issue, as I see it, is not the use of the word as an insult, but as a term of familiarity, without a sense of irony attached to it. We all know what an insult is, and while one can argue whether one should use the supreme insult or not, if you want to be nasty, you know what to say. But the use of the word as a term of familiarity is much more objectionable in my opinion, because it speaks volumes about the cultural level and mentality of people who talk like that.

It's one thing for white people to imitate the worst aspects of ghetto culture from a safe distance, i.e. from watching music videos and being so naive as to think there's something there worth imitating. But people who fought like hell to get out of the ghetto and away from ghetto culture are not going to buy it. If people are going to imitate something, they need to understand the assumptions behind what they're imitating and behind their own behavior. White people love to appropriate bestial black behavior because they want to be beasts themselves and hope to overcome their inhibitions in so doing. It's a tired old story, but at least in the '50s maybe there was an excuse for being naive. Now it's just obscene.
Excellent. Just plain excellent. Thanks for posting. I hate the cozy familiarity this word enjoys in our community too. I've heard girls of various races refer to one another as bitches and hos too. I'm an optimistic person generally speaking, but I just don't know how to get them to understand how these words debase themselves and the groups they are targeting.

A few years ago the epithet 'wigger' was wildly popular in the burbs where I lived at the time. I recall overhearing a couple of white teens refering to each other as such while shopping at Kmart. Same deal. I can't help but feel that non-blacks enjoy getting away with one when the word (or variations of it) rolls so easily off of the tongue. I've heard the argument that the word can be deprived of it's power by embracing it, but it just does not fly with me. As Ralph said, many were hung in trees, harrassed and spat upon with choirs of folks slinging the word. This isn't far enough in our past to remove the sting.
I'm really glad my post has stimulated so much positive conversation. I'm glad to know I am not the only person who feels so stronly about the N word. In London young black men tend to use the term 'blud' as a term of endearment rather than the N word which used to be way more popular in the UK.
The people formerly known as...

Have written a paper on this very subject. As a person who lived through most of the end of segregation and living in the bible belt of the north, this word is not funny. I thought this young man summed it up quite nicely to get others to think about those abused by this word.
I am glad to see this. I am ashamed of my self, because I have been pulled into the meme that perpetuates this. My black friends say the N word all of the time and over time I noticed that I was saying it around them in the same context as them and they didn't care. It made me feel like a terrible person, but they didn't care and no one even noticed. N A this N A that we all go. I'm so confused by it.
I've since went far out of my way to eliminate it from my own sentence's. I ,however, am FAR too much of a coward to broach the subject with anyone. le sigh
in regards to the question asked:
"Are we dissin our past and perpetrating in our own oppression or are we merely stealing back a word that has been used against it?"

i would submit that we are doing both. i'm 32yrs old. i mean... i bring up my age, because as mentioned prior, an individual's age (generally speaking) has a large impact on how they are impacted by the use of "the N word." i recall when i was younger hearing my uncles (in the 80's) complain about the use of the word and the ignorance of the african-americans that used it. Though i also understand the perspective of younger folks that use the term w/zero malice. Words are powerful, always have been and always will be. People will never agree on words because of this fact. Like with anything that is powerful, there will be individuals that want to have control of it (if not only for the reason so that it does not have control over them). when you start controlling someone's words then you are on a slippery slope towards controlling someone's ideas and forms of expressions.
Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. :) --T. S. Eliot




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