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Is It Ever OK For White People To Say NIGGER?

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Is It Ever OK For White People To Say NIGGER?

In an article released last week for Time Magazine, writer Touré asserts that it’s not OK for white people to use the word nigger (or its crazy cousin, nigga).

Well…he does list some exceptions.

According to Touré, white people can say nigger if they are:

1. Reporting on, commenting on, or writing some kind of think piece involving the word nigger.

 Or

 2. Using the word as part of a play, film, song, piece of visual art or stand-up comedy routine.

Is that alright with you?

Now, Touré makes it very clear that this is only his opinion, explaining to his white readers,

“This is a personal argument I am positing that is not necessarily shared by other Blacks.  My perspective will not save you if you run into trouble. You can say, ‘Hey Touré located this as a space where it’s ok! See, I have his article right here in my pocket!’ And the angered party may say, ‘I don’t care what Touré thinks.’ That happens plenty.”

In no way is Touré’s article meant to speak for all Black people, or “settle the issue” once and for all.

But I think it’s worth discussing. According to Touré, as long as the viewer is being led to see the speaker’s use of the n-word as wrong, it’s OK.

Or, if the use of the word is meant to be constructive, and engage with racism in an honest and sincere way, we should give them the go ahead.

But these things always get messy, don’t they? Touré himself cites Tarantino’s offensive “dead nigger garage” rant from Pulp Fiction as an example where the word enters the realm of exploitation.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBXiXgxfNtg

And even one of his positive examples, John Lennon’s “Woman is the Nigger of the World” is hella problematic; how can a white, British man arbitrarily connect that word to anyone or anything without a raw, nuanced, lived understanding of the sheer weight of that word?

Only Black people understand the power of that word. But does that mean only Black people can say it? Ever?

Check out Touré’s article, “Can Whites Say the N-Word?”

And tell us what you think.  Is it ever OK for white people to say nigger?

Sound off below!