OPINION: The “N” word

No clear line for who can use the N-word and who can't

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No clear line for who can use the N-word and who can’t

The N-word is probably the most loaded word in the English language today. Generally, it is understood that the use of the N-word is reserved for people of African-American descent. But there are views on the exceptions, or lack thereof, of the word’s usage.

Can Latinx people use it? What about people who are mixed race? And if not, just how black do you need to be for the word to be deemed acceptable to say?

As someone who is mixed black & white, it is something that has always been on my mind. I personally don’t use the word, but not because I don’t believe I have the right to. I just didn’t grow up with it being used around me. To me, this is one of the biggest factors, other than race, for whether you should be using the word or not.

Larry Wilmore, former host of “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore,” now has a podcast called “Black on the Air.”

“White people, just don’t say n—-, just don’t say it, just don’t say it and everything will be okay, trust me — you shouldn’t even want to say it,” Wilmore said.

I think most of us can agree on that. But when you’re mixed race, like myself, the rules can get blurry. I grew up in a relatively well-off community where the N-word was never used. It was never part of my surroundings growing up, and using it now feels forced and unnecessary.

Latinx people have had to endure racism in America just like African-Americans have, but they haven’t experienced the specific form of racism that is anti-blackness. This is where I start to take issue.

The N-word comes from the Latin word “niger”— which means “black.” And you probably won’t hear someone who is African-American using derogatory terms that are originally intended for a different race.

I do think that it is great that some black communities have flipped the meaning of the N-word from a negative to a positive, but if they didn’t use it at all, then there would be far less white kids, who love rap, running around and saying the N-word because they don’t know any better.

I also don’t think that other ethnic minorities should get a pass from saying it because they also experience racism. It’s a similar but different struggle.

When it comes down to it, the word is racist.

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  1. Alaylah Hagler Alaylah Hagler Saturday, December 21, 2019

    This still won’t help me can I say it as half black and half white most black tho cause my mom light skin

  2. austinandjake austinandjake Wednesday, January 15, 2020

    If your are not black, don’t say it unless you want your ass whooped.

    • eb eb Wednesday, June 16, 2021

      thank you for saying that.

  3. Peter Peter Saturday, February 22, 2020

    I’m mixed, but I’m like really pale. So I feel like if I say the n word in public, no one will believe that I’m also black, and will probably kill me….

  4. Daniel Daniel Saturday, March 28, 2020

    I am mixed and I don’t use it I don’t feel it fits me and how I grew up.

  5. Pine Pine Monday, July 6, 2020

    I feel like if the word has been used against u u can reclaim it. This goes for only people that are mixed (African American and Caucasian.)

    • amy amy Friday, August 28, 2020

      not all black people are african american

  6. Anon Anon Tuesday, August 4, 2020

    as an african american/caucasian person, id say that it depends on the way you use the word.
    i mean sometimes people make mistakes and say it once, but saying it repeatedly starts to get offensive.
    its also about the context in which the word is used.
    sometimes people of color use it as greeting or something like that. but most of the time its used as a racial slur, and is highly offensive.
    keep in mind that many people get offended when you say the n-word.
    (but i mean this is all my opinion and many others probably see it another way.)

  7. dicksp1 dicksp1 Thursday, August 6, 2020

    Believe it or not, at the risk of getting my skull fractured, there are actually extremely rare instances, in which it is actually necessary for a white person to use the n-word. Suppose, for example, a white law enforcement officer is working undercover and investigating a white supremacist organization. In order for the officer to blend and preserve their cover, it may be essential to speak the language of the group. In fact, failure to do so can be disastrous. Of course, this is a very rare exception applicable under very limited circumstances.

  8. Daliubys Daliubys Tuesday, September 1, 2020

    Can Cuban people say the n word ??

  9. Gavyn Carter Cummings Gavyn Carter Cummings Saturday, October 24, 2020

    I’m 25% black and 75% white my mom is black and she is from Johannesburg City South Africa and my dad is white and he is from Los Angeles California and I go to Desert Edge High School and all my friends call me the N-word and i say it back to then with a text because i don’t want to say it. Because it hurt me to say it out loud

  10. Hannah Hannah Monday, January 4, 2021

    Honestly? If you have to question whether or not you can say it just don’t say it at all. It already has bad origin so honestly just done say it if you have to question it.

  11. asdasdffasd asdasdffasd Monday, January 25, 2021

    The word should be banned. It is analogous to being called a “slave”. How is it a term of endearment to black people? Are you telling me that they like being called a “slave”? It makes no sense that a group of people are allowed to use it and other groups are not.

  12. kai kai Wednesday, January 27, 2021

    I’m black and hispanic, I’ve grown up around the word and the word has been used against me multiple times, Am i allowed to say it?

  13. Theo Theo Tuesday, April 13, 2021

    My situation is similar to that of rapper Logic, as I am biracial. My father is light brown and my mother is somewhere between light brown and white. So my question is, if Logic can use that word, am I allowed to use it too?

  14. Elsie Elsie Thursday, April 22, 2021

    Can we say the n-word if you have black family and black generation?

  15. Jerichiah harris Jerichiah harris Wednesday, April 28, 2021

    I have used the word multiple times and have not got smacked for using it plus I am biracial it depends in general try not to use it but if you are mixed with black back in the day or even today you will be posed as a black man not a white man so use your color wisely because there are supremacists that don’t care if you have a hint of white if you are not fully white society looks at you as colored love to my black brothers/sisters.

  16. Sil Sil Friday, April 30, 2021

    Well, I am latin and I’ve never been in U.S. I read this post for curiosity and also because I love to sing and I love rap, either our native brazillian rap songs and the rap songs from U.S. When it’s in english and I’m singing along, I change the n word for another one, but my origin is also black, and altough I am light skin, I can’t say I’m exactly white. White people in my country don’t see me like an equal and I was born and raised among black culture – brazillian black culture.
    As latin and African-Brazillian, I’d like only to make a point about your post and remember that “latin” is not a race. Latin America is a huge continent and, although our countries have lots in common, we are not all the same thing. Furthermore, in Latin America there are white people, there are black people, there are indigenous people (and they also aren’t all the same culture, each village is totally diferent from the other), there are asian people, we are too diverse.
    African-Brazillian people also experience racism really hard – anti-blackness racism. Brazillian black people get killed every day, brazillian black kids get killed every day from police bullets. We are discriminated at school, at work, in the streets and everywhere else.
    I understand your point. I understand that in your country we are read in a different way than in our homeland, that may be true for someone like me. But I don’t think a dark skinned brazillian walking in U.S. streets, someone like my mother or my uncle, is gonna be free from anti-blackness racism. On the contrary, I think people like them are gonna suffer both, anti-latin and anti-blackness racism.
    And I’m not even trying to defend my right to use the n word lol. I’m just trying to show you that latin black people exist and that latin is not a race or an ethnicity, Latin America has many ones and it’s beautiful and it’s also problematic and complicated, just like it is in U.S.
    I learned a lot today with your experience and I would be really glad if I could help you with mine somehow. Bye.

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