Somebody Else's Slave: Use of the "N" Word.

Mad Man Marlon - Posted on 01 December 2010

Marlon Crump

Picture credited from the book "Capitalist Nigger" by Chika Onyeani. It is featured online

Note: The following story I’ve written is not aimed as a direct attack on ANY specific race, whatsoever. It is people’s (including my own) experience, reflection, and especially survival from a word/weapon. Historically, it has destroyed human beings.

Presently, it is still used as such in displacing human beings………….. from themselves. Bringing forth community consciousness, locally and globally. “There was a discussion about how people say that word. No matter how you say that word………....its like saying that you’re someone’s slave.”

An explanation of the use of the “N” word by my comrade and co-founder of POOR Magazine’s Family Project, Jewnbug.

We’ve all heard this word, this slur……………at least most people here in the U.S.A, and in other countries have. A slur spat from the mouths of European colonizers onto one race of people, while savagely stolen from their land: African Descendants into African-Americans.

A word/weapon leading to generations of enslavement, dehumanization, segregation, criminalization, incarceration, and death of communities by European KKKolonizers. Used for “mass destruction” in present day. A word so ugly, evil, and inhumane that its very usage would even one day become a partial transformation. A reclamation effort from its enslavement to the soul.

Metaphorically, a kiss to an ugly duckling to see it blossom into a beautiful swan. Immoral infection to their mind to re-invent, reclaim and reproduce it for themselves. A cultural form greeting of brotherhood, or despise. Soap into syrup, one or the other in the mouths of many. One race to displace their humility with one word.

Arguably and/or accurately, it is the mother of all racial slurs:


Ugly as it seen, ugly as it is heard. According to “His-story” (among others) the word “Nigger” began as a term used in a neutral context to refer to black people, as a variation of the Spanish/Portuguese noun, negro; a descendant of the Latin adjective “Niger” meaning the color "black."

Many conflicting stories stem from “His-story” about the origination of this word, and its original target, but who can doubt its destination? “

When I was growing up, I didn’t know too much about that word, until I went to an all white school in Upstate, New York.” Raaddrr Van, Race, Media, and Poverty Scholar said to me regarding his experience. Van recalls the moment he boarded the “cheese (yellow) bus” the other kids began to chant “KKK, KKK, KKK!” at him. (acronym for the notorious white supremacist terrorist group) “Today, as a black man in America, that word does hurt me, and my black people.” Van says. “But at the end of the day, I’m still black.”

I can only imagine the inner torment, and terror someone like Malcolm X endured from the sound of this word, in his childhood. In school, he was taught the reality of discouragement from his eight grade (white) teacher. Malcolm’s dream from ever becoming a lawyer were shattered from his teacher’s words, "No realistic goal for a nigger.” Hearing this hurt Malcolm’s humility enough to engage into a life of crime, until he was incarcerated.

From incarceration, to education however, Malcolm X later became one of the most influential speakers and leaders the world would ever see.

A word to the black man Do not point your nose too high Do not swell your chest too much Do not boast too loudly Do not be puffed up Let not your ambition be inordinate Or take a wrong direction Remember you have done nothing at all You are just the same member of society you were last week……….. Partial excerpt from an editorial from The Los Angeles Times titled “A Word to the Black Man” published on July 5th, 1910 following the July 4th historical victory of Jack Johnson over James Jeffries, in Reno, Nevada.

The headline was the “Fight of the Century.” Johnson’s victory over Jeffries enraged whites who rioted against blacks via his victory. “Nigg-er” became a widespread into a pandemic of psychological impairment. The result went into a reclaim. Re-formed and re-introduced as “Nigg-a.”

It became a self-proclamation, of self-expressiveness among many young black men and women, actors in certain films; such as 1970s “Blax-ploitation Era” rap artists in music, comedians in their standup performances, etc, etc. Nearly everywhere, it hits my ears fluently, in friendly or furious fashion.

A cultural collective attempt to empowerment: “Yo my nigga! How you doing?” “Hey, you punkass nigga!” “We should no longer accept this negative, anti-BLACK image of ourselves that was forced on us by the former slavemaster!” Sister Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade, April, 2007 My lifelong best friend from Cleveland, Ohio, Ryan Jones said to me, in a brief recent interview regarding his feelings and experience with it.

Jones briefly explained its purpose to me. “That word has been misused for the past 100 years. It was used to invoke racial hatred towards an ethnic group of people to intimidate, and make them feel inferior. Personally, I do not like the word, for I was called that word numerous times growing up, and it holds a personal disgust within me.” Growing up with Ryan Jones and his brother, Bryan Jones (both identical twins) I can not only concur his feelings of the word and experience, but from my own.

The three of us were subjected to it, and attacked because of it. As a child born and raised in Cleveland, myself and my family were often savagely subjected to “Nigger” many times. Our white neighbors were quite friendly towards us for awhile, until slight disagreements led to cursing and hissing. The cursing became a chorus of inner terror and fear for me.

Like a bomb detonation, it damaged my dignity. (repeatedly and daily even) “Nigger!” “Nigger!” “Nigger!” The Use of “Nigger” spans much deeper. Verbally, every single African Descent person here in United States of AmeriKKKa, (and abroad) can see and hear all categories of one ugly word within a sentence from a set of lips. The awful energy, hatred, anger, fury, and the deepest downcast. Like a barrage of bullets and/or daggers striking into one’s mind, heart, and soul.

Physical, like a po-lice officer’s “Use of Force.” Southern trees bear strange fruit Blood on the leaves and blood at the root Black body swinging in the Southern breeze Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees Pastoral scene of the gallant South, The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth, Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh, Then the sudden smell of burning flesh! Here is fruit for the crows to pluck, For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop, Here is a strange and bitter crop. Poem by Abel Meeropol, performed by Billie Holiday.

A pregnant woman is hung upside down by her ankles. Her unborn baby slashed from her belly by a white hate-filled mob. They set her on fire. As her life is taken before her eyes, she lives long enough to see them crush the life she produced. Burning upside down, she cries out for her child as a hail of bullets tear through her burning body. Mary Turner, May of 1918 in Valdosta, Georgia.

A fourteen years old boy’s eyes are gouged out, shot in his head, his body weighed down with a 70 lb cotton gin fan, then barb wire tied is around his neck. Emmet Till, August 28th, 1955. Abducted at night, taken to an undisclosed location, castrated, then dumped on a roadside left to bleed to death. Edward Aaron, September 2nd, 1957.

Chained to a pickup truck in the darkest of night, then dragged along the road until his body was severed apart as he begged for his life. James Byrd Jr, June 7th, 1998.

Shot in the back, spread eagled on the ground, even in compliance to a po-lice officer’s orders. His dying words of shock as he looks up at his killer: “You shot me?!! Oscar Grant, January 1st, 2009. Spread eagled, imprisoned on my bed, looking at the barrel of a gun, and a dozen other guns from po-lice officers. Innocence and detailed description of their “suspect” irrelevant to a crime I did not commit.

Skin was all they saw.

October 7th, 2005, a day that my life saw death through their eyes. Being a “Nigger” in their eyes, ready to open fire with it on their mind. “Who’s skin care you? Who’s voice care you?” (In reference to my poem) I feel that for every reclaim of “Nigg-a” is a reminder of pain behind “Nigg-er.” Tran substantive error in terms of “Black on Black” violence in poor communities perpetrated by corporate mainstream media, and its proponents. Blind consciousness of capitalism in journalism, “If it bleeds it leads.” “

They (young men of color) are murdered twice, by the cops and……....... by the media!” Explosive words from D’andre, who was lead speaker to everyone in attendance and support (including POOR) of October 22nd National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and Criminalization of a Generation. Another tran substantive error is a very sensitive subject and heated debate.

The false empowerment and notion of “skin privilege” imposed upon the minds of African Descendants (and other non-white ethnicities) that the lighter their skin, the better their chances to survival and success. “Passing for White” was the term used in the old days.

My mentor, POOR co-founder “Tiny” Lisa Gray-Garcia soundly resents, and resists this psychological pandemic of Eurocentric form of “self.” “Additionally, I as a mixed race daughter of a "half-breed" mixed race, unwanted orphan of color, my mama. My phrase is I'm Black, I’m just melanin challenged.” I am the success story of the pure race scientists, and the tears of my KKKolinized ancestors.”

Tiny poetically-presents, in detailed description of the horrors that her mom, “Mama” Dee Gray faced in foster homes as a little girl: “Welfare Queens.” A revolutionary play produced and co-directed by the “Super Baby Mamas” of POOR Magazine/PNN Hey little girl, are you the new orphan? Are you the new orphan?! Hey little girl?! Cat’s got your tongue?! Can’t you talk?! I think she’s deaf ! She sure is funny lookin like a little nigger! Nigger lips! Nigger lips! Can’t you talk? Can you fight?! Cmon, stand up! Poor little deaf and dumb orphan girl! Can’t talk, can’t move! “

Mama”Dee-Gray would later be tossed in a trash can by her tormenters. Trapped in darkness, paralyzed with too much fear to move a muscle, else someone might hear her.

“Tiny” Lisa Gray-Garcia’s consciousness of her own culture, and deterrent from another. “I live within this white skin as a Mestizo person in conflict, and therefore I don’t believe it is respectful to appropriate a word (Nigger) used to harm so many of my ancestors……….anymore than I would use the word Spic, or Mojado (two slurs) used for my raze gente.” Tiny’s meaning of reclaim: “

What I do claim is my indigenity, my blood line to colonized peoples across Pacha Mama - Boricua, Taino, Roma, African, and Irish; as a way to re-claim the stolen and destroyed cultures that live within my heart.” Behind every sound of “Nigger” into Nigg-a (or vice versa) is the sound of slavery, torture, rape, oppression, displacement incarceration, and death.

Past, Present, and God forbid, the Future. In another reality realm, every single race has a slur placed upon them, literally from A-Z. For me as a young African Descent man with multiple ethnicities in my bloodline; my own skin should be irrelevant to society once and for all!

My family of POOR's ultimate goal for all of us poor communities, locally and globally: Moving off these grids of separations and control of our land from “The Man” and his linguistic domination. “Nigger” being one of them. Taking back our land, with our own lens, our own lives, with every single story of struggle at a time.

In the end, the real reclaim is ourselves starting with the “I” voice ending with “we” as a community. Not a displacement from our communities, and ourselves from "Nigg-er" or "Nigg-a." "

The black man is a kind of man that never holds his fists down so that is why I like the Black Man kind." Poem by 7 year old Tiburcio Garcia, son of tiny and Revolutionary Youth Scholar titled "Black Man Knows True."


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