True Confessions: I’m Never Saying That Word That Begins With “N” And Ends With “Igga” Again » VSB

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True Confessions: I’m Never Saying That Word That Begins With “N” And Ends With “Igga” Again

(Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Do you still say nigga? I do.

At some point, we all got the don’t-say-nigga anymore memo. I shredded mine and threw it away.

I can’t say that I say the n-word unapologetically. I think it’s wrong. Now, I’m not one of those people who believe that if we don’t want white people to say it, we have to stop saying it as well. We all need to stop saying it because the word is just done. It goes in the category of spanking your kid or not wearing a seatbelt. Sure, it made sense at the time. When you know better you do better.

But when it comes to the forbidden word, I’m not doing better. I’m Richard Pryor before he took his life-changing trip to Africa. I swirl it around in my mouth like a fine wine at a tasting. I use it the way I use the word fuck—sparingly but with aggression. It punctuates my conversations with certain people. It comes out under my breath—dis nigga—when I’m watching certain shows. It signals to myself and others that I’m code-switching—I’m letting my hair down and being the n-word-using version of myself.

(I’ve often wondered if President Obama ever used the n-word in the White House. Did he every whisper dis nigga under his breath when some craziness went down? I’m going to say no. He’s from Hawaii and I’m sure he didn’t hear people use it in a code-switching way. Now Michelle? I need y’all to understand, she tossed off an n-word in her mind at least once in eight years.)

My brand as a writer is carefully curated. Read my posts and you’ll find that I’m polite, friendly and helpful. I don’t curse in my work—unless its fiction. The me you see on social media is genuine, for sure. But it’s not the me who throws out a nigga please when necessary like I’m an ODB album.

But I think I’m done now.

I had a day party this weekend. (More on that later. Hmph.) I invited a bunch of my Day Ones that I don’t get to see often even though we all live super close. One of my Day Ones, let’s call him Daryl, came with his wife Kelly. When I say Daryl is my Day One? Let me explain. I met him when I was four years old. He introduced himself by damn near running me over with his Big Wheel tricycle. We lived on the same street and went to elementary school together and college as well. I doubt very seriously that I have any friends that are not also Daryl’s friend as well. He’s super smart, loyal and his hip-hop playlists are just sick. I love this guy.

So. We’re chopping it up—hip-hop, politics, kids, etc.—and at one point he said something that made me roll my eyes. I sucked my teeth and said: Nigga is you crazy?

Daryl looked at me: “What did you just say?”

Before I could even explain that I was saying it playfully, Daryl shook his head. “Nah, not over here. That word? No.”

I was stunned. In my head I’m like, wait Daryl! It’s me, Aliya! From East Orange. You my nigga!

Daryl must have read my mind cause he continued: “I’m not the –gga version or the –er version.”

I felt horrible.

I know I have friends who don’t use the word. But I didn’t know I had friends who didn’t want me to use the word around them. Was I going to have to start code-switching within my friends and family?

I started to think about who I said the word around. My mom? Occasionally. My siblings? Yup. My dude? At least 12 times a day.

But I realized that none of them used the word with me. I’m sure they have here and there. But I couldn’t think of a single instance.

Society as a whole had given me the first never-say-nigga memo, the one I shredded and tossed with a maniacal laugh.

But Daryl, someone who has supported me since I was five years old, was now handing me the memo. And I took it with hot shameful tears in the corners of my eyes. Yes, I know, I sound super dramatic. But it really did hit me. There are some people who could have said that to me and I would have just rolled my eyes and thought dis nigga under my breath.

Daryl is not one of those people.

He has an incredible wife I’ve known for over two decades. (I would never call her a nigga). He has two brilliant children, just like I do. (None of whom I would ever call a nigga.) We both lost our dads literally days apart earlier this year. (Two men I would never call a nigga.) Our mothers have had a warm friendship for forty years. (Two women I would never call a nigga.)

And if anyone said nigga is you crazy to any of those people—joking or not—it would be a serious problem. It took Daryl’s reaction for me to see the insanity of my use of the word.

A few years back, a group of my online friends had an email chain going. Someone came up with the idea of saying president instead of nigga and first lady instead of bitch. It worked pretty well. And sometimes it was humorous the way president worked as a substitute for the n-word.

So that’s where I am as of today. No more n-word. When I’m watching the news and I’m freaking out about my healthcare as a freelancer, I’m going to use dis president.

Considering who I’m usually talking about when I whisper that word-clearly it works just fine.

Filed Under: ,
Aliya S. King

Aliya S. King is the author of two novels and three nonfiction books, including the New York Times bestseller Keep the Faith, written with recording artist Faith Evans. Right here, she wants to add something pithy and quirky about pancakes or something like in Damon’s bio. But she’s just not that witty. It would feel forced.

  • Janelle Doe

    Hey. We missed you!!

    • I was supposed to be first but moderation.. hmmpf

    • aliyasking


      • NonyaB?

        *Sniff* You just dropped us like a hot potato, like we never shot it wif you in da gym.

  • First!!!

    “Ni66a” has so many meanings for me. I don’t know if I can ever completely give it up.. It’s like “Bytch” and “Fukq”… it can make you smile or make you wanna punch somebody in the face.

    • miss t-lee

      Exactly. I’m not getting rid of those two either.

  • Mary Burrell

    Thank you for this I appreciate this so much. I hate this word so much I hope and pray one day all black People would stop using this ugly word.

    • Majestic SupermanBM

      Why do you hate it fam?

      • Mary Burrell

        It’s just ugly to me racist whites created it to denigrate black people so why would I take something that was used by the oppressor?

        • Rastaman

          Are you a member of a christian congregation?
          I ask because that church bs was used by racist whites to denigrate black people also. I am no defender of the users of the word but I think those who oppose it need to provide a much better explanation. I do see the word as a pejorative also and I am probably most offended by how lossely it is uttered by all manner of people in the most innocus of circumstances.

          • Mary Burrell

            Yes I am but I don’t understand what the relationship between the n-word and being apart of a Christian church is about.

            • Rastaman

              It’s just that racist white people used Christianity to denigrate and justify their enslavement of Africans. Many have chosen to adapt the religion and made it their own even though it was an instrument of their oppression and enslavement. If you want to use the “racist white people” creation rationale it can’t just be limited to this pejorative.

              • Element

                That’s not really comparable. Christianity wasn’t created for the sole purpose of oppressing black people. The n word was. Your argument would hold up better if the n word was originally a term with an innocuous meaning before it got repurposed into a racial slur.

  • Numbah5

    Can I sub “dis muthafcka” for Ni66a? Yeah, ok cool…

    • Michelle is my First Lady

      I like this replacement. In fact, I’ll use “dis muthafcka here”.

    • aliyasking

      You absolutely can. I implore you muthafcka!

      • BM, Superman

        Isn’t that word sexist? Idk someone told me it was.

        • hahahaha.. You tried it!

        • aliyasking

          Actually. Damn. Muthaf*ka is pretty problematic too. Dang.

          • 44isnojoke

            Damn or dumb? Cuz generally dumb MF go together!

    • I tend to flip the two anyway so…

  • Mark M

    Thank you! I know many on this great site use the word or some derivation. I understand the argument that black folk took an offensive word and turned into something “positive.” Jujitsu! I also know that its use today by some young people is different from when I was growing up. Even then, older black men would use the word among themselves and I felt very uncomfortable.

    However, I don’t like the word and I particularly don’t like it being used by black folk. Here’s why — even when incorporated by black folk, I always felt it was still tinged with degradation, even self-degradation. Maybe I heard it wrong, but it always pained me to hear other black people use the word b/c I always associated the word with being denigrated. Even when used playfully, I hear denigration or a not so subtle put down.

    I will be 50 this year. Maybe my problem with the word is generational. Just like the “B” word, I just don’t like hearing it from anyone, especially my own people. I don’t think the word is productive in any way.

    • Love Heals

      I respect your position and perspective. I have family members who feel this way (Black from the U.S. and Black from elsewhere). I use it, though…in good times and bad.

  • Kat

    True story…I say it more lately. I like it. Tastes like rum punch.

    • La Bandita

      Do you do the same from gay terminology too?

    • Like the best Mojito EVAH!

  • Michelle is my First Lady

    Off topic (sorry!): Speaking of YT people. My YT coworker keeps mimicking another coworker’s accent. The other coworker is Jamaican. The YT coworker keeps saying “Dis problem dem” in her yankee voice, along with some other crap. She’s done it for a couple of days now. Am I tripping? I want to say something to her but I just started in this office and I am trying to be nice.

    • Aly

      How does the Jamaican coworker react?

      • Michelle is my First Lady

        She laughs it off, but I really think she is afraid to tell her to stop. I find it to be inappropriate.

        • Aly

          Oh it’s definitely inappropriate.

        • Janelle Doe

          Would it be petty to mimick the white coworker?

          • Sweet Potato Kai ?

            You know it would turn into a whole different thing. Angry black woman bullying a meek white women.

            • Janelle Doe

              too right, i forgot where I was at for a minute. Tks.

              • Sweet Potato Kai ?

                It’s ok, Im here to help LOL.

            • Mary Burrell

              Plus the white woman would turn on the water works

              • Sweet Potato Kai ?

                And a lip quiver for good measure

        • Rastaman

          Are you sure she is Jamaican?
          Sounds like she Ja-faking to me. We no run dem kind a joke deh…

          • Michelle is my First Lady

            My black coworker is ja from Brooklyn.

    • Cleojonz

      I’d tell her plainly it’s inappropriate. Ask her if she’d do the same thing to an Asian person. I bet she’d get it then.

      • Michelle is my First Lady

        And it is funny because we’re both are in an industry where you already know there are certain sensitivities to be mindful of. (edited)

        • I get it, but I notice Southerners, of all backgrounds, tend to ignorant of the culture of the West Indies on a scary level. You can know the policy all you want, but if you aren’t exposed…

          • miss t-lee

            Nah. Making fun of anyone’s accent is off limits, dawg. That’s like me making fun of the Korean guy in my office, or the Indian ladies accent.
            F*ckery is f*ckery.

            • BM, Superman

              Yes. This is one of the most common forms of racism people let slide.

              • miss t-lee


                • BM, Superman

                  How you doing Queen? Need somebody to save the day? I got 20 minutes until my next meeting.

                  • miss t-lee

                    I’m doing well. Hope you are as well.

          • Michelle is my First Lady

            That’s assuming she is from the South. She’s not. She is a transplant just like me.

      • Janelle Doe

        But what if she says yes… then you hOOped

    • NonyaB?

      Tell dat bish to stop or I’m pull up on her.

      • Michelle is my First Lady

        please do @disqus_lMYKzq7b6e:disqus for the people!

    • Considering where you work ,I’d go for it and speak out. If it were up North, I’d find you stepping up a bit presumptuous, but considering there are like 412 Jamaicans in the state of Georgia, it’s fine to pitch hit in this context.

      • Michelle is my First Lady

        I’ll have to approach it delicately. They have a closer relationship to each other than what I have to them. So let me think about when the time would be right to tell her to cut that sh*t out.

    • miss t-lee

      Absolutely not. You’re not tripping.
      Gone head and check her.

      • Michelle is my First Lady

        I will. Just have to do it at the right time.

    • Mary Burrell

      You should tell that coworker how wrong and disrespectful that is. 2520’s always trying it.

    • Rewind4ThatBehind

      Check your coworker before I have some ATL heavyweights come whoop her a$$.

      Matter fact don’t check. Just leave a blue sticker on her car.

      We’ll get the memo.

      • Michelle is my First Lady

        BOOM! Done.

    • Aintnuthinwrongwitcornbread

      Let the Jamaican co-worker know, and then don’t wear white for the next few days, as the blood might be hard to get out.

      • Michelle is my First Lady

        So now we got a Jamaican woman and a BW going up against a YT woman…. yup, we are about to get fired lol

  • Blargg

    Now Michelle? I need y’all to understand, she tossed off an n-word in her mind at least once in eight years.


  • siante

    “Now Michelle? I need y’all to understand, she tossed off an n-word in her mind at least once in eight years.)”

    I think the word may’ve crossed her mind a time or two. Especially at this fine event right here:

  • Majestic SupermanBM

    I’ve been saying it more but as a response to nonsense around me (200% of it caused by white folks being white). I should probably stop if I run for office but I’m 23 and if I feel like saying it now I will.

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