The “N” word….

June 22, 2008

Much has been said about the “N” word and I am pushed into writing about some views based on excellent work on this issue on the bent society blog. Who the authors of this blog are I really don’t know? But they are kind of good people. OK they are good people.

So what about the N word and Black youths using this word? The word can be used by Black youths to explain who is below them, a bit like a pecking order, (as it was in slavery, as a derogatory term used by White towards Black), so it might be about a matter of power within group relationships.

And when it’s used in our presence, as police officers, or within the majority culture, it perhaps tests our resilience. How? Well, sometimes it can also be used as a term of endearment where youth express their reclamation of the word, so that they are not called it by others that use the term in a bad way, (namely racists as described below).

Perhaps I am not so used to White youth using the term, but if the youth are anything like er racist, as in they hit Black people, or swear at them or even murder, then we can deem the word to be racist, but what about White youth in a mixed ethnic group using the term where Black youth are not offended by the use?

Well, either this is happening or it may happen, and we should be ready to think carefully. As Police officer’s I think we are canny enough to realise the times when the N word is used to harass, don’t you?



  1. There are parts of the UK where the first word out of many children’s mouths is no longer dada or mama it is “Fuck” and then they learn next to say “off”. You’ve seen it right?

    Well they say America sneezes and Britain catches a cold. How long then before that happens for the N word? Because there are parts of the USA where people (black people) punctuate every other word with “nigger” in the same way White UK Chavs punctuate every other word with Fuck.

    In the past (UK 1950’s and 60’s and earlier) police would have arrested someone for saying “fuck” in their presence. Not any longer.

    Where are we headed? Should the police tolerate the use of the N word like that – or should they perhaps help to draw the line by having a policy on it rather then relying upon officers own discretion? Could/should that be the role of a police officer?

  2. If the Black youths present at the time are not offended by it then I guess there is no problem for them. But others are likely to be offended – perhaps the officer also if he/she is Black? Then what?

    Of, course not all White youths who are part of, or on the edge of, such post-modern usage of the “N” word are going to fully understand the precise social rules as to when it is and is not OK to use the N word. In such cases perhaps a few can expect a few bloody noses or worse?

    Reminds me of the film Corrina, Corrina staring Whoopie Goldberg ( http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1355/is_n17_v86/ai_15830978 ) where the little white girl is singing in a black choir beside her best friend who is Black ..All the Black kids are using the “N” word to refer to themselves and other Black people. But when the White child uses it the other kids are shocked and an argument breaks out where she is called Honkey for the first time.

    We live in complex and interesting times.

  3. Er, question time, Dr Diss, does that sort of thing in America happen in poverty stricken racalised areas? The use of the N word I mean. I don’t think it probably happens in richer parts like New York.

  4. While watching the last MOBO (Music Of Black Origin) Awards – my daughter had the zapper and wouldn’t relinquish it – I was astonished to see and hear that modern day poet and troubador P Diddy tell everyone that he “….was one happy n….r” for receiving an award for spouting various obscenities at scantily clad women while a load of other fat black men strutted round him making funny gestures with their hands and bending over as if their posteriors were inflamed (perhaps they were but it was not made clear on the videos shown). To the best of my recollection, Paul Newman never said he was “one happy honky” at any of the many awards he received. As so many of today’s youth watches programmes of this type then people such as Mr Diddy, or others of his ilk, can not reasonably be upset if those not of his ilk use the ‘n’ word. By the way, it is understood that a new film of the Dam Busters is being made by an American company (in which the bomber crews are the villains) but what will Guy “Child Killer” Gibson’s dog be called in the film?

  5. Twining

    I can’t claim to any USA expertise beyond what little I’ve seen in real life and the lot I’ve seen on TV – you know watching “The Corner” (excellent show) and “The Wire” etc. In real life I know an Amercian couple – he uses it that way and she does not. They live in New York State. And I guess ( no more than that) that it is for the most part a thing which is used that way more in the poorer. Same then as the “F” word in the UK right?

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