Tag Archives: n word

Worse than the N word ? Urban

I actually got a surprise while researching this topic.  Typically, I look for an image using Google Image Search and it took a couple pages before I reached an image of a black person.  This is contradictory to how the word is typically used.  Only when using the keywords Urban Youth did I get my expected results. 

So what’s the big deal here? Often times Urban is used as a code word for black, though it is often combined with other words (radio, youth, clothing, music, television, etc) for this meaning.  It’s used so often, that it isn’t given a second thought but its audience.

Many businesses and organizations have capitalized on this misconception.  Many include urban in their names to further identify their alliance with race such as  Urban Outfitters whose clothes don’t seem to fit into this definition and National Urban League, a civil rights organization.  Just as Urban Outfitters points out, not all terms or businesses are code words.  Urban Legends and UrbanDictionary stem from uses in language that doesn’t exactly predate stereotypes but doesn’t get its meaning from blacks living in the city. Often in Mom and Pop stores it hangs above the music and in the news it describes the people but why?  No history exists of the words association with blacks as of yet but it is in heavy use with no misunderstanding of what it means.

Of course I have my own theories on the subject?  My first guess is White Flight where whites, moved from urban areas to suburban areas.  This changed the ratios of whites to blacks in urban areas therefore creating the stereotype of large amounts of blacks live in urban areas.  But wait a second, blacks live in the suburbs too.  More so in the south than in the northern states. 

I don’t need to quote statistics to prove that blacks live in other areas than in cities, just look around.  If someone is working in a store, chances are they live in the area.  Especially when it comes to teens.  Teens don’t travel as far as adults do to get employment.  They go as far a the bus, train or parent will take them within a reasonable distance.

So what harm can this do?  There is a huge movement of racists and stereotypical behavior starting to surface.  The media will have you believe that it started because of the Tea Party Movement or since Obama started running for president.  I believe it started with the popularity of the internet and the new sense of anonymity that it give people.  The is one of the founding properties of the KKK and the internet has further this.

Worse than the N word? Ghetto

Growing up up the ghetto I always knew what it felt like to be ostracized.  Times were different than they are now back in the 80's. It wasn't the overtly racist  era of the 50's and 60's but this was definitely before  being black was popular.

Black celebrities weren't as plentiful on TV unless they were athletes.  The Cosby Show was the only "black" show on but stars could be seen in shows like the A-team or Love Boat. And Hip Hop was just starting to blossom.

I remember the first time I realized the negative impact of the word ghetto was on a trip to the beach in Ocean City, MD.  While checking into the hotel with my friends, the woman behind the counter ran down the list of rules.  One of the rules was "No Ghettoblasters". At the time I was confused from never hearing the term before. She explained to me that they were big radios that people in the cities carry around.  We didn't have one so there was no need to worry.  I gave her a funny look and went about my vacation undisturbed.

It wasn't until a few years later when a comedian performed a joke on Comic View did the word take off in mainstream use. I remember hearing people use the term describe the ways we did things to get by in a negative light. Using a hanger for an antenna, drinking Kool Aid, driving an old car or just something different than the accuser became, ghetto.

I wondered why this happening. The I noticed that people thought it was funny but it was a case of people laughing at you not with you.  Those making the joke were too ignorant to the fact that they were making fun of their own culture and themselves. 

As always, the term was picked up by those who understood the use of the term and began to use it with a different meaning.  Once again a word became code for blacks or in this case, the things that black people do.  It is a form of hidden racism and unrealized self hate which does nothing to further our development in the world.

In our hurries attempts to look and act cool, sometimes we create things which appear to enhance but only injure. There's that old lie we tell to children that "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" to help combat teasing but we should be teaching them that some words have hidden meanings and lasting affects. We are made of flesh and bone not rubber, words penetrate deeply.






Worse than the N word? Baby daddy/Baby momma

Baby mom(s) and baby dad(dy) are relatively new.  I can't put an exact origin on them but that doesn't matter.  What matters is their usage.

In short, the terms are disassociation's from a parental roll and relationship to the other parent. What does that mean? It illustrates that the relation to the other parent is not a direct connection but only through the child. It lessens the other parents worth and attempts to weaken the responsibility of involvement of the two parties that created the child.

This type of thinking and behavior has two fallout's: First, it has become far too easy and trendy to have children and not be involved with their lives. Second, more and more single mothers are left to fend for their children, some times from multiple fathers, either on their own or through the help of friends and family.

The divorce rate is pretty high but the rate of unmarried single mothers is even higher. I'm not advocating that marriage is for everyone but I do believe that both parents should be actively involved in the development of their children.

Actively involved doesn't mean seeing them every few days or sending money.  It's both parents making the decisions that will impact the child's life; sports & activities, schooling & child care and religion & culture as well as discipline and play.  No parent should dominates in these choices alone nor should they have to.

We need to evaluate slang a little closer before we adopt it.

Worse than the N word? African American

For the next installment of this series, I present to you a curve ball.  You may be wondering why this word is on the list.  Of course this article is here to explain it but first let's educate ourselves a little:

Af·ri·can?Amer·i·can Pronunciation: ?a-fri-k?-n?-?mer-?-k?n, -?me-r?- also ?ä- Function: noun Date: 1855 : an American of African and especially of black African descent ? African?American adjective

eth·nic·i·ty Pronunciation: eth-?ni-s?-t? Function: noun Inflected Form(s): plural eth·nic·i·ties Date: 1950 1 : ethnic quality or affiliation <aspects of ethnicity> 2 : a particular ethnic affiliation or group <students of diverse ethnicities>

race Function: noun Etymology: Middle French, generation, from Old Italian razza Date: 1580 1 : a breeding stock of animals 2 a : a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock b : a class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits, or characteristics 3 a : an actually or potentially interbreeding group within a species; also : a taxonomic category (as a subspecies) representing such a group b : breed c : a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits?

col·or Pronunciation: ?k?-l?r Function: noun Usage: often attributive Etymology: Middle English colour, from Anglo-French, from Latin color; akin to Latin celare to conceal ? more at hell Date: 13th century? 3 : complexion tint: a : the tint characteristic of good health b : blush 4 a : vividness or variety of effects of language b : local color ?12 : skin pigmentation especially other than white characteristic of race <a person of color>?

na·tion·al·i·ty Pronunciation: ?na-sh?-?na-l?-t?, ?nash-?na- Function: noun Inflected Form(s): plural na·tion·al·i·ties Date: 1691 1 : national character 2 : nationalism 1 3 a : national status; specifically : a legal relationship involving allegiance on the part of an individual and usually protection on the part of the state b : membership in a particular nation
4 : political independence or existence as a separate nation 5 a : a people having a common origin, tradition, and language and capable of forming or actually constituting a nation-state b : an ethnic group constituting one element of a larger unit (as a nation)

So what's so wrong with this word? First and foremost, we are Americans.  If we want to shake the social stigma that we don't belong here we need to stop referring to ourselves using a hyphenated adjective. This adds a qualitative form on our citizenship which says to others that either we're not from here or we don't want to be here.  The term Hyphenated American was once used as slur much like the N-word for people whose roots were from other countries.  Times have changed and this is no longer the case but it is important to know the history and meanings of the words we use.

Second, let's play an game that you probably played as a child.  One of these things is not like the other; Japanese-American, Italian-American, Canadian-American, African-American, Irish-American, German-American.  Give up?  These people (sans Africans) are from countries and Africa is a continent. Africa itself has many nationalities within it.  People from the continent of Africa don't refer to themselves as Africans, they use the country they are from, much like we do.  Using the term only denotes that you don't know where you are from.

This leads use to the third reason, We'll use some logistics on the definition.  Anyone from Africa who immigrates to this country is an African-American. This of course mean people with white skin.  This might confuse and anger some people but by definition, it is what it is.

Fourth there's the obvious fact that not every dark-skinned person is from Africa. There are people from the Caribbean with the same skin color who are just as proud of where they are from and don't appreciate the African suffix attached to their nationality. In examining this phenomenon around the world, we are the only country which uses such prefixes to denote ethnicity and nationality.  There aren't any African-English or Vietnamese-French. People are comfortable with who there are and where they are from.

Which is what is missing from many people here.  Too few of us, myself included, know exactly where our ancestors are from.  For as long as we have been free, not too many of us have traced our roots back to where our families are from.  Information is in abundance today and so are scams.  Do your research before committing to such a service if that it how you wish to find your heritage. Be sure to do some research on your own prior to handling over any money.  This will afford you some important family time getting to know those who share your genes.

Words people use that are worse than the N word

Preface: While working on this series, Jay-Z appeared on Oprah and they had a short discussion about this topic. This brings about a great time to introduce this topic since it is in the always in a topic of interest for many.  Incase you missed it, here is the interview.  If not, scroll ahead or click here.

First, let's get it out of the way; nigger, niggers, nigga and niggas.  There, now we can move on.

For a long time, I've been able to step outside myself and see things for what they really are.  It's sort of like in cartoons where someone has a near-death experience and then they see themselves laying on the ground while talking to a ghost or the grim reaper.  Being able to put aside my own judgments and opinions is a skill that I have honed over the years.  Knowing when and where to use it has always been a challenge due to people not really knowing what to expect as your opinion.  Often times this type of thinking doesn't go along with popular opinion and getting others to see that is though but thankfully I have also been blessed with the great ability to use analogies very accurately to express my views.

Language is a huge part of Hip Hop, a little more so than it is in normal life.  How can it be more?  Because unlike normal language, the language of Hip Hop is in a constant state of evolution.  Slang changes so often that a meaning today may not be the same meaning tomorrow (Down Low?ahem). The language of Hip Hop has also been picked up and adopted by other cultures but it is often not used with the same respect as it was intended.

Before I get into the details, let me give you a little background on what this is about…  In early 2008, I decided to learn a new language.  Always itching for a challenge, I chose Russian.  Mainly because it was the only language of which many people around me spoke as their first language and partly because it was something different. In case you are wondering Japanese was my other choice because of my love of anime and manga.  To do this I decided to engulf myself in its culture as well, something they try to do in school when teaching language classes but I think they do a poor job of it.  Or maybe I wasn't paying attention, I'm not sure on that one. 

While trying to learn the language I wanted to know how people learn a new language and in doing so I found something interesting.  There was an article on use of profanity.  I don't know if it's typical for people to want to learn profanity in another language but they sure do joke about it often.  Having no interest in learning profanity, I read the article to see how other cultures view its use.  All my life I've used it but I try now minimize its use. The article mentioned that profanity was most often used by the poorer people of society and that the upper class felt it was beneath them to speak such words.  I certainly can relate to that though my tastes haven't grown with my bank account.

I decided to look into how other cultures view profanity and offensive words and saw the same result; used by the lower class and shunned by the upper.  This got me thinking about our society. There are those in the upper class that make their money of being foul mouthed; Howard Stern, most rappers and many comedians of both genders. Now I'm wondering what happened to us? 

Why is America and Hip Hop the exception?  Figuring it out for America is too big a question for me to tackle but I can handle Hip Hop. This one is simple; because it's popular to do. Chances are that your parents use it, and so do your friends.  You hear it sung in songs and delivered in poetry.  Laughed at on TV and ridiculed in politics.  Some use it for shock value, some use it for expression and still others can't tolerate the sound of it.

For blacks there has always been one word that went from a racial slur utter by others to a term of endearment spoken proudly by kin. And all with the change of 2 letters.  It's used is so often that even as a racial slur it doesn't carry the same impact as it once did. So much so that it is now accepted use among some races that used to use it in malice.

But this isn't about that word. Countless others have debated it many times over and will for generations to come. This is about the words that are used everyday which are secretly damaging but people don't realize it.  Their use is typically due to a lack of understanding the repercussions of their meanings much like the N word.

Since there are many words to explore this will be many articles explaining each word in detail. In this series I will shine a light on these words and explore deeply their meaning and the problems with their use.  Do you use these word?  Come back soon and find out if you are furthering social damage with your words.