NegusWhoRead
Politics & Race
How To Say Nigger Without Really Trying

 

By Michael Harriot

You’ve heard it before. It was a thinly-veiled description of a Black person that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It was a newspaper describing an armed robber or a local politician talking about “welfare queens.” Even if you’ve never committed a crime or received government assistance, you know who they’re talking about:

Niggers.

White people’s use of the word has never been particularly veiled or creative, because… well… it never had to be. There was no need for political correctness in the presence of slaves or subjects of Jim Crow. The various euphemism for “nigger” is a fairly new phenomenon. But since President Obama took office in 2008, the ingenuity with which they have mined low-key ways to sling the slur has far outpaced the nuclear arms race, silicon valley tech advances, and the number of new natural hair styles combined. They have perfected it to such a degree, that even we may not recognize it when “nigger” leaks from their lips because they’ve found a way to dull its edges and unsharpen its point, so we decided to help you spot the ways we are called “nigger” without being called “nigger.”

The Dog Whistle Nigger– Everyone knows this one, and there is no one more adept at the “Dog Whistle Nigger” than politicians. I’m sure you thought I was going to begin the dog-whistle description with Donald Trump or some other conservative Republican, but truthfully, both political parties use the veiled nigger with skill and agility. Donald Trump is saying “nigger” when he says there is something fishy about Barack Obama.

We like to jump on the unthinking bandwagon that blames Republicans for all things racist, but the Grand Ol’ Party has become the confederate-flag-waving, gay-hating, shotgun-toting portion of America, so we expect them to call someone a “coon,” or the less-benign “dindoo” (As in, Black people always get arrested and claim “But I dindoo nothin…”) but one of the most despicable conjuring of Nigger imagery came from Hillary Clinton. The Democratic Presidential nominee sought to sate White Fright by supporting her husband’s crime bill that gave Black men jail sentences for using the “too-black” crack cocaine, that were thrice as long than their white, regular, cocaine-sniffing counterparts. When touting the new law, she smiled at the white people audience and reiterated that these niggers were “superpredators” who needed to be “brought to heel.” Say what you will about racism and racist slurs, Mrs. Clinton was almost ballet-like in her dog-whistle nigger slinging.

The Grown-Ass Nigger: Here is a secret only Black people know: If a 19-year old white guy high on crystal meth robs a woman, and then cuts her head off and wears it on a hat, he will be described in media reports as a “teenager.”  Caucasian school shooters are described as “troubled teens.” White people get to be teenagers for like… 32 or 33 years of their lives. Niggers, on the other hand, skip puberty altogether. Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old “thug” so far into manhood that a neighborhood watchman 100 lbs. lighter needed a gun to subdue him because he feared for his life. You know how niggers do. Darren Wilson was one inch shorter than the 18-year-old Mike Brown he told to “get the fuck out of the street…” as if he were a child, but newspapers referred to Brown as a “man.”

Even scientific studies show that police officers and teachers perceive black boys as older than they usually are. It is easy to paint them as grown men when the ultimate plan is to outline them in chalk. Little boys are sweet, precious things.

But niggers…

The Pity Niggers – If you are ever in need of baking a slow genocide into a political agenda, feel free to place it squarely on the laps of the poor Black people. This is the most popular use of the nigger euphemism. Whenever white people are up to something nefarious, they’ll begin referring to the various classes of pitiful niggers, which include:

  • The Underprivileged
  • Inner City Youth
  • Underserved Population
  • Minorities
  • Ethnic groups

If you ever hear any of these phrases, no matter what they’re talking about, vote “no.” Believe me, when people start referring to the “inner city” they are either:

a.  trying to wipe the blood from their hands by trying to camouflage a crisis they caused by raping and pillaging the population

b. Trying to form a plan to rape and pillage a population

The only way one can be underprivileged is from the perspective of the privileged.

The Appropriated Nigger – When stealing the culture from brown people it is always helpful to have a cache of synonyms to describe the people you robbed. For instance, I’m sure Macklemore and Iggy Azalea don’t flaunt that they are culturally appropriating Black culture, instead they call themselves “urban.” “Urban” is a fairly new euphemism for “nigger.” It descended from the culture they stole Blues and rock from. And the “Harlem renaissance” from which they stole jazz and beat poetry. And the “Doo Wop” circles that they stole R&B music from. Decorum dictates that they can’t say they’re trying to sound Black, so they make it palatable by stealing it, whitewashing it of pain, truth and authenticity and referring to it as Blue-eyed soul, “traditional” jazz or “Delta” blues. or whatever else white people want to siphon from the souls of Black folks while keeping them at arms length.

Other Niggers  – Various other ways to say nigger include:

  • “I’m-not-sure-about-that-neighborhood…”
  • They always play the race card
  • One of my best friends is…
  • …who just happens to be black
  • One of the good ones
  • A really good guy
  • My weed guy

About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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  • Play Righter

    “…a neighborhood watchman 100 lbs. lighter needed a gun to subdue him because he feared for his life.”

    TYPO? Per Wikipedia, Martin was 5’11”, 158 pounds, and Zimmerman was 5’8″, 200 pounds the night of the shooting.