N-word là gì


A few years ago, I read slave sầu narratives to lớn explore the lives of blaông chồng agricultural workers after the over of the Civil War. The narratives came from the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration, a program that employed researchers from 1936 lớn 1938 lớn interview former enslaved people, producing more than 2,300 narratives that, thankfully, reside online và are fully searchable.

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Those whom the law defined as property recounted various unique human experiences — their daily horrors và monotonies, how they freed themselves or learned of their emancipation, the surge of exhilaration upon securing freedom, & how they endured life on the edges of a white supremacist society in the decades thereafter.

As I pored over the narratives, I was struông chồng less by their experiences, as heartrending as they were, than by how their experiences sculpted their self-perceptions. The best explanation of what I gleaned, what social scientists called internalized oppression, describes the psychological trauma that ensues when a person from a stigmatized group believes those negative sầu stigmas.

White folk indoctrinated them into lớn accepting their supposed inferiority. These narratives illustrate the success of this campaign of mental terrorism, & no word conveyed the depth of this internalized oppression more than “nigger.” Now, whenever I hear the epithet, a visual and emotional representation of the heinous process by which a people — my people — were induced lớn think they were less than trespasses inlớn my thoughts. After years of habitual use of “nigger,” I banished it from my speech to honor the humanity that many never saw in themselves.

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The internalized oppression revealed itself in various ways. Sometimes the former enslaved people clearly, perhaps subconsciously, considered themselves subhuman, just like how their former owners regarded them. Jlặng Allen, for example, dubbed himself his master’s “pet nigger boy” & a “stray” and thought himself privileged because he could sleep on the floor beside his master’s bed. That he likened himself khổng lồ a fortunate mangy mutt or frisky feline crushed me. The word laid bare a worldview that held blachồng folk as a lower order of being, as when Irene Robertson claimed her former master Mr. Sanders was mean, in part, because “he beat his wife like he beat a nigger woman.”

“Nigger” also signaled antipathy toward fellow blaông xã folk. After the over of slavery, Mattie Mooreman went north to Wisconsin with a Trắng family for whom she worked. Members of the family wanted her to go to lớn the circus lớn watch a blachồng boy’s performance. She told her interviewer, “Guess they thought it would be a treat lớn me khổng lồ see another niggah. I told ’em, ‘Law, don’t you think I see lots, lots more than I wants, every day when I is at home?’ ” But read how she talks about the family’s baby, whom she constantly watched over, fearing, irrationally, someone would kidnap him: “No matter what time they come home page they’d find me there. ‘Why don’t you go in your bedroom and lie down?’ they’d ask me. ‘No,’ I’d tell ’em, ‘sometoàn thân might come in, & they would have to get that baby over my dead toàn thân.” Her eyes fixated on the Trắng baby, but she saw too many niggers.

A barrage of dispiriting uses of the word bloodied me as I combed through the narratives. “The Ku Klux kept the niggers scared.” “The Ku Klux did a whole lot lớn keep the niggers away from the polls. …” Slaves owned by “nice” masters are repeatedly called “miễn phí niggers.” “Niggers ain’t got no sense. Put ’em in authority and they gits so uppity.” “I’se just a poor old nigger waitin’ for Jesus khổng lồ come & take me to lớn heaven.” Slave sầu traders are called “nigger traders.” Defiant enslaved people required the service of a “niggerbreaker.” “Nigger dogs” aided the recapture of those who escaped.

Perhaps more depressing, ironically, was that circumstances sometimes led them to opt against calling a black person a nigger. William Porter stated that “some of the Tennessee niggers was called free niggers. There was a colored man in Pulaski, Tennessee, who owned slaves.” A blachồng man who kept others in bondage — he’s a “colored man,” yet those who were owned were “niggers.” I instantly thought of a moment from the O.J.: Made in America documentary when a White woman who saw blaông chồng people talking lớn Simpson uttered, “Look at those niggers sitting with O.J.” Simpson delights in hearing this because she “knew I wasn’t blaông chồng. She saw me as O.J.” Porter’s outlook matched that of both the racist white woman and the unspeakably racially deranged O.J.

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Since reading those narratives, I’ve sầu noticed this mindphối when perusing the remarks of freed people in other contexts. For example, before the trial of Rufus Martin, a black man who stood accused of the 1903 murder of Charles Swackhammer, a woman whom the Fort Worth Star-Telegram referred to as an “old negress who occupied a front seat in the court room” bellowed:

It’s the white people that is to blame. They know that they got khổng lồ make niggahs work or they ain’t no good & they know as long as they ‘low niggah men lớn loaf aroun’ low down saloons they ain’t goin’ lớn work. This man come from a good niggah fam’ly — one of the best I knows of, but the p’lice ‘lowed hyên ổn khổng lồ loaf aroun’ without workin’, & khổng lồ drink and gamble, till he just got to be no good and thought he didn’t have to work. The p’lice ought lớn raid them low down niggah saloons every day và every night till they make every blessed one of the niggah toughs go to work or else skết thúc ’em all to lớn the county road. Them saloons is what makes bad niggahs & the Trắng folks is khổng lồ blame for it, ’cause they let ’em run.

That Martin sported a reddish mustabịt, light hair & skin so bright he could pass for white almost certainly colored her perception that Martin came from a “good niggah fam’ly.”