I have recently been falling in love with this new form of hip hop, all thanks to my radio station of choice’s influence. I mean the kind of hip hop that is all pop, electro and hard core lyrics in one go that has me bopping my head to work everyday.
This morning though as I was driving, listening to my morning radio station of choice, I wondered to myself about the “n” word. That derogatory term that white slave owners of the good ol’ US of A used to refer to black people. My thought was sparked off by a listener that called in, greeting the host DJ by saying “Hey. What’s up n***a?”
While I get the black USA hip hop artists, for reasons of their own, fully claiming that word and nullifying it by using it so casually, I wonder about every other black person’s rights to use that label freely. I mean, would it be okay for other black people around the world to start referring to each other as k****r instead? Nullifying and claiming that derogatory label that white apartheid used for black people in South Africa?
I still feel like we as South African people feel the raw pain that label incites. It personally makes me uncomfortable to use it, forget hear it and the same can be said about the use of the “n” word for me. I don’t believe South African Indians want be hearing about how they are being k****s. Or coloured people their derogatory label being freely used by all coloured people around the world.
So, I wonder how American blacks feel about the universal use of the label n***a, even though their artists popularised it and gave it international status. The suffering at the hands of their slave masters was not experienced by all black people, yet we are all universally claiming the right to use it. If it were reversed and k****r was up for nomination for casual use in lyrics, would that be okay?
My question, which is not a new one and I guess one that will linger for many years to come is why we ringfence these terms on a permission basis. Only certain people are allowed to use certain derogatory terms to claim back their power. The “k” word may not even be mentioned! I think Dr Irvin Khoza learnt his lesson saying in a press conference that someone was acting like a k****r. I understood his expression to mean a black mentality of the oppressed in my mind, but socially it was condemned and he had to apologise through the SA Human Rights Commission for even uttering those words. Just the comments alone on this post are a clear outburst of the nation’s unhappiness http://www.tvsa.co.za/default.asp?articleID=7204&blogname=shugasblogiwood.
We are a sensitive nation that has been through much pain. But is it okay, simply because some popular people have made it seem okay, to diminish the pain other nations have experienced by using n***a? Or is using the “n” word not diminishing the historic pain behind it? Will we one day be able to freely use the “k” word without public condemnation and be cool with other black people using it too? I am just wondering…