By the law of metaphysics, things that are created generally cannot be destroyed. Matter, what is all and what can be, cannot be either created nor destroyed. These are also the laws of language, and the meanings we weave and embed within the created nuances of powers they contain.
A phrase that has only meant to rip apart the humanity of Blacks and those of African descent cannot be recreated nor destroyed in meaning. Its hurtful and oppressive sentiments only serve to do what it’s radical meanings allow them to be.
It cannot liberate the Black nor be reclaimed and reeled back at their oppressors with imperialist tongues that slice with angst and fervor. Dropping the -er and placing an -a in its place changes nothing but its phonetics. You cannot uproot pain from its branches.
Drips with hundreds of thousands of millions of Black bodies broken by whips and plantations and sharp cloves of cotton and blood clotted in the crevices of the backs of a mass movement of hungry and starving souls waiting for humanity to rebirth itself again. Nigga is neocolonialism in drag. You cannot free a people who keep polishing their chains.
What a badge of privileged pain. You aren’t freeing anyone by screaming it at each other over monstrous trap beats. Filling the pockets of corporate record labels and A&R reps that keep Black people from re-imagining their worth in brilliant color. They breathe in shades of thug and nigger and nigga. What a small existence.
Nigger can never and will never be an affirmative identity. Because the people who created its meaning still hold power by means of its significance. Oppression cannot liberate oppression.
You can’t free a people who keep polishing their chains.
*In celebration of Black History Month, the Gents Among Men staff will post a series of articles that take on controversial, lingering issues within the Black community. Have a topic that you think we should tackle? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nancy Musinguzi is a freelance writer, photographer, spoken wordist, and political artist located in Long Island City, NY. A recent graduate from Rutgers University, she hopes to pursue an MFA in Directing and use film as a tool of social commentary and activism in the arts. She enjoys reading, writing provocative prose, watching movies, meeting new people, and seizing every opportunity to learn more about the world around her.