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

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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.

  • BlackSpartacus

    I’m not there yet. I enjoy the Boondocks too much.

    • Darkchloe144

      Same same

  • Majestic SupermanBM

    I find myself writing this word more than saying it. Its like a period, an exclamation point, a question mark and a comma all in one, it is punctuation for any thought.

  • miss t-lee

    I remember when they “buried” the n-word, and I laughed.
    As with all things code-switchy, I use the word with/around certain folks only. This process has worked well for about 20+ years, so it will continue to be business as usual.

    • Darkchloe144

      Same, but I’m careful not to use it towards close elder family and friends. Either I refer to someone who ain’t there, like that niqqa on TV, or I don’t use it around them.

      • miss t-lee

        Oh, I definitely don’t use it around my elders, unless I’m around my Pops and we’re chopping it up, or my grandmother, in which we already talk like this.

    • Furious Styles

      Yeah. They buried “that word” and it rose again on the third day.

      • miss t-lee


  • I dunno what to think on this one. I’m not against it, and I’m not for it either. Plus I’m always leery of censoring someone unless it’s more likely than not offensive. If someone is dead set against it, I’ll drop it. That said, I’m not going on the warpath against it. Considering that there are people trying to shoot us for living, the word is low on my list of worries. *shruglife*

  • La Bandita

    I never used the word and I always thought it was anti black no matter how much Black Americans try to nice it up.

  • Tentpole

    At what point does education create intelligence, it is their word and it’s a HATE word. Why did we let a bunch of rappers and comedians convince us that we should be the ONLY people on the planet who would want to broaden the definition of a HATE word.

    • BM, Superman

      It wasn’t just these groups, working to claim words of hate as words of self-empowerment is as old as time itself.

    • NonyaB?

      Every ethnic group has some slurs that they’ve reclaimed, which are off-limits to outsiders.

      • miss t-lee

        Thank you.

      • Question

        Eh. This isn’t entirely true.

        • NonyaB?

          I don’t know of any marginalized ethnic group that doesn’t have co-opted slurs.

          • Question

            Can you provide some examples?

            • NonyaB?

              I don’t care to repeat them. Literally google [insert any non-white group] and slurs, you’ll get many examples.

              • Question

                I meant examples of the ethnicities. Sure I can google and find examples of anything – I was asking because I haven’t come across any widespread re-appropriation of racial slurs amongst any group other than black folks. Homosexual slurs (rhymes with gag) has been only slightly reappropriated but is generally shunned by the greater community…

                • NonyaB?

                  Not sure how widespread it is within any group but I’ve seen examples Grownandsèxy gave above and with other grps like Polîsh, etc

                  • Question


      • Tentpole

        And which other group came to America as slaves and endured what we have. It’s not the same and that’s we we keep having this discussion.

        • NonyaB?

          They may have separate histories but the ethnic slurs used against them also originated from the same well of hate/bigotry.

      • grownandsexy2

        I’ve just never heard Jews or Latinos call each other slur words associated with their group. I’ve never heard, “wassup my K*ke”or “wassup my wet back.” I’ve heard other groups use slur words when referring to those groups tho.

        • cdj

          You must be a mind reader today! I was just getting ready to type the same thing.

          • grownandsexy2

            Girl, yes. I hear Black kids, as young as 5 saying the “N” word, probably because they hear it in their surroundings and have no idea what it even means yet. They hear it over and over and think it’s a normal part of the lexicon and so they repeat it and on it goes.

            • cdj

              It’s really disheartening.

              • grownandsexy2

                It is. Very disheartening. I have to pick my times to even go around certain family members. The way they use it surely says they hate themselves and anyone that looks like them and they don’t even realize it is the sad part.

                One family member who is part of the “I don’t do business with black folks” delegation, vacillates between “N’s” ain’t ish” to “I hate “N’s.” Any attempt at education is met with a black stare because she’s had a lifetime to absorb and internalize all the anti-black messages propagated 24/7, 365.

        • CamCamtheGreat

          Cuz you’re not part of that group, so you’re not there when they say it. It doesn’t happen when you’re around, therefore you don’t see it and you think it doesn’t exist.

          Like white people and police brutality…
          Or men and street harassment…

          • grownandsexy2

            I’m not saying or mean to imply that it doesn’t exist. Just that I’ve never heard it. And I’ve lived around, worked with, partied with, seen them throw hands and been that fly on the wall when they don’t think they’re being heard. I get that I’m not part of the group. Are you saying, they say it in secret, as in it’s not something they want outsiders to hear? That they don’t want outsiders to hear them denigrating each other. . . . . that it’s just for their ears? Just relating what my experience is.

            One thing is for certain, you don’t have to be a part of our group to hear the “N” word cause we’re vocal like that. lol

            And if I understand you correctly, men don’t see street harassment? Whites don’t see police brutality? Guess my experience is different here too. Men see street harassment and sometimes join in. Maybe some consider it “a compliment” but they take off the rose colored glasses when they see it happen to their loved one. Their sight is 20/20 then. Same way with whites and police brutality. They see it, they’re just selective about what they see and who it happens to. They see it when it happens to their loved one, but not POC.

        • miss t-lee

          My best friend is Mexican, and yes, I’ve heard the w-word, when she’s around her family.

        • NonyaB?

          I have heard those groups use it between themselves.

          • grownandsexy2

            We all have different experiences it seems.

    • miss t-lee

      Yeah, Black folks weren’t using that word already, before rappers and comedians told them too.

      • I never differentiated between the “a” and “er” versions of the word either.

        • miss t-lee

          I don’t differentiate because I’ve never said the “er” version, and if I heard it, that meant it was time for hands.

  • Mary Burrell

    I was infuriated when Larry Wilmore said it to President Obama. Hate this word with the heat of a thousand suns.


      Me too.

      • Mary Burrell

        Hey Truth.


          Hello Sister. Finally, it is a cooler day where I’m from.

          • Mary Burrell

            Same here in Texas


              That’s great news Sister.

    • aliyasking

      He said it to Obama IN PERSON? Where was I?

      • Aly

        It was at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

      • Michelle is my First Lady

        I missed that too.

      • Mary Burrell

        At the corespondent dinner for journalists I am surprised you forgotten.

        • aliyasking

          Wow. I do remember this. This is Not Okay.

          • Mary Burrell

            No it was not okay in my opinion.

      • miss t-lee


  • La Bandita

    I hope Damon gets the memo as well. He uses it A LOT. That’s my only critique of him. I love his moody artistic attitude and his beard – that is all.

  • Thank you.

  • 44isnojoke

    Welcome back Rocco’s mom!!! Well I like Numbah5 use the MF word…it’s rare that I use the n word. But if I do… I’m mad as hayle and I might wanna have you jumped on.

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