The Story Of The Wilmington 10
Before we start this discussion, let us first take a look at how we got here. Many people attribute Richard Pryor as the one who brought the word nigger to the forefront for black people. I recall Ice Cube giving this credit when he said, "Words like bitch and nigger may be shocking for somebody who is white, but that's not why we use them. It's everyday language of people around my neighborhood." Ice Cube said, “19 was the age I most intently listened to Pryor.” (1) However it was the book “Nigger” by Comedian Dick Gregory that got it all started. His choice for the title was explained in the forward, where Dick Gregory wrote a note to his mother. "Whenever you hear the word 'Nigger'," he said, "you'll know their advertising my book." (2) Gregory’s book became a number one best seller in 1964 and I could only imagine a 24 year old Richard Pryor saying to himself damn, “That Niggers crazy”. So by the time he came out with his stand up album’s, That Nigger’s Crazy (1974), Is it something I said (1975 and the Bicentennial Nigger (1976), we were now branded as Nigger’s for life.
Funny thing about this whole concept of writing, there is also someone always helping you on your skill especially in comedy. Enter in Paul Mooney. When Richard Pryor died the world of comedy came out to pay tribute to the true King of Comedy. What got less attention have been the contributions of Paul Mooney, a close friend of Pryor, a stand-up comic in his own right, and the writer of many of the gags and routines that Pryor made famous king. (3) So, it is no coincidence that the first use of the word Nigga came from a skit by Paul Mooney. Remember the term “nigga please” that’s Paul Mooney.
So we went from nigger to nigga but the question I ask is did the definition change. 2pac said that we went to the term nigga as a way to take control of the word. He even came up with an acronym for NIGGA, which stands for “never ignorant getting goals accomplished.” But at the end of the day how did the term nigga really evolved. We as black folks have always been known for shortening words. Maybe it’s because of our lack and disrespect for the English language. Understandably, why would a people love the language of the people who enslaved them? So master became masa. For some reason we always drop the letters “er’ off words. Oh you want more examples. Reefer become reefa, teacher becomes teacha, preacher becomes, preacha and. rapper, becomes rappa so likewise Nigger becomes nigga. And since this is the generation of the Nigga, we have now learn to not only drop the letters, but shorten and change the spelling as well. So because, is now cuz, alright. is now ight, hello, is now yo, what up, is now wsup, and if you add with you, what is up with you; becomes wasp witcha. Yet the question still exist does the definition change when we shorten a word nigger. For those of you who didn’t know the definition of the original spelling let me give it to you. “Nigger is defined as “a black person, a member of any dark skinned people, a person of any race or origin regarded as contemptible people, inferior, ignorant, etc.” Nigger is also defined as “a victim of prejudice similar to that suffered by blacks; a person who is economically, politically or socially disenfranchised.” While nigga, on the other hand, is defined as “an extremely offensive name for a Black person; only a Black can call a Black a nigga.” (4)
Wow, makes you think about your choice of words doesn’t it.
Bottom line, if a teacha still a teacher, is a preacher still a precha, and is a rapper still a rappa. Then a nigger is still a nigga. The real king of comedy ended this argument with this:
Excerpt from Richard Pryor Live on sunset strip (talking about his trip to Africa)
…I was leaving and sitting in the hotel lobby, and a voice came to me. It said, “Look around and tell me what you see. I said, “I see all colors of people doing everything”. Then the voice said. “Do you see any niggers? I said, “No”. The voice said, “You know why, because there ain’t none. Then it hit me like a shock. I started crying and I said, I’ve been here a week and I haven’t even said it, I haven’t even thought. It made me say, I’ve been wrong; I’ve got to regroup my shit. I said, “I ain’t gonna ever call a black man nigger again. Cause we never were no niggers. That word was used to describe our own wretchedness, and we perpetrate it now. That word is dead! Black men and women come from the first people on this earth. The first people on the earth were called BLACK PEOPLE… We were the first people to say, “Where the fuck am I? And, how do I get to Detroit?
So in conclusion let us remember, we are still all one big family. At the end of the day we all have to make our OWN choices on how we live and what words we use. So if you choose to call it the N-word from now on, then I respect that. On the other hand if you still want to say the word NIGGER, just remember, you’re still MY NIGGA
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