Chapter 4: Using the N Word as a Non Black POC or Even Just as a Non POC

By India Taina

Photo by Etty Fidele on Unsplash

Remember that iconic scene in White Chicks, when Marlon and Shawn Wayans are in the car (as white women) with 3 other white women and Realest Niggas by 50 cent and Biggie comes on? All the real white women are horrified when Marlon and Shawn’s white female characters sing along and start bopping, and one immediately turns it off and exclaims “Guys! I can’t believe that you just said that?!” (referring to the N word) and later in the scene, one of the bros offers the explanation “Sooo… nobody’s around?!” And then they all bop and dance to the song while singing every lyric together, in unison. If you don’t remember this scene, because you have never watched White Chicks, do yourself a huge favor and watch that shit EXPEDITIOUSLY (T.I. voice)(If you don’t know who T.I. is, also do yourself that favor and look him up)(p.s. I linked the scene at the bottom of the page, de nada). Even though the entire movie is a satirical perspective on the world of white women (not to be taken seriously), I think this part had some real, cultural implications on the usage of the N word. Now before I get sent to physical therapy for reaching, allow me to explain. 

So, the first thing that we have to clear up: This article is in no way, shape, or form, an argument as to why anybody other than Black persons should use the N word. So if you’re looking for the next grand argument to use against your Black friend when they say you shouldn’t use that word around them, trust, you are definitely not going to find it here. I am actually going to start off with the reasons why you should NOT, and then I will conclude with a possible olive branch for usage, which absolutely does not need to be received by the Black community if they are not having it. So let’s get that squared away and circled, ma’am (or sir).

Reasons NOT to say it:

“Everybody wants to be black until it’s time to be black,” has to be one of my favorite lines of all time. And I stand by it. I do absolutely believe that if you are not someone who falls under at least the first 2 of these categories, you really have no business saying the N word to others. Not as a sign of camaraderie, not as a joke, and certainly not as a retort. And the categories are:

Are you black?

Do you live the Black Experience?

Do you understand what it’s like to feel alienated because of your COLOR? (not accent, not religion).

Do you feel afraid when you are stopped by police?

Do you feel absolutely shaken to your core when police brutality happens to black people?

And some people, inevitably, are going to argue “Well, I’m (insert Hispanic ethnicity that is often intertwined with African ancestry, however, the person at large is extremely light skinned and white passing), I grew up with black people, and I can answer yes to some of those questions, too!” Well yippie kiyay, CONGRATULATIONS, you have been inducted into the Oppression Olympics! Go on and take these unlimited N word passes along with a free photo op with Fat Joe, Cardi B, and 6ix9ine. Enjoy!

Yeah, no, that’s not how this works. And I think in order to get this point across as to why other colored and non-colored people shouldn’t say it, we have to lay some shit straight out on the table. First things first, Black people have a painful, historical connection to this word. How they choose to reclaim it is absolutely their business, and if reclaiming it means granting exclusivity to only those of their color, then so be it. Just respect it. It’s that simple.

What if we “grew up” saying it, and have always been given a pass before?

Well, I think this question can only be answered by identifying what you respect. Do you respect the Black community? Do you respect the trials and hardships imposed on them, do you fight for their rights as hard as you would fight for yours? Do you understand the historical connection and its implications in Black life? Now if the answer to all these is yes, then the answer as to whether you should use it or not is ACTUALLY a no. Because if you truly understand the basis of the N word and are not black, then you understand that some things just aren’t for you. And you have to respect that. Now if you are ignorant of all this, sure, say what you want to say, but I am telling you now, don’t say a damn thing when you catch an ancestor in your lifetime for sowing a seed that’s not yours (snap snap). 

So, wait, are you saying that YOU, as a Latinx person from New York, have never used the N word?

I absolutely have. Now, hold on, because after all this argument that I just put up as to why non-black people, even ones such as myself, should not use it, I turn around and give you this shit lol allow me to rectify. I think the problem with this society is that we are either “woke-happy”,the state in which we are all too enlightened to ever make a guffaw, we’ve always been wise and in the know and up your dad’s booty hole, or we’re either too liberally apologetic to the point that no real dialogue happens because you’re so busy apologizing and doing crocodile tears (shout out Gina Rodriguez). I have said it. I have had it as a regular part of my vocabulary and such up until even just a few months ago. It’s recent. I know. But here’s the kicker: PEOPLE GROW. People grow up and wake up and then make a big ass mistake again and are “sleep,” and then wake up again, and that is just the way life goes. I think we are so scared of being crucified and burned at the stake that we make these perfect personas, these woke figures that were born woke. Well, that is not how I came out the womb lol. I came out imperfect, unknowing and ignorant (and good-looking), and that is OKAY. To err is human, baby. These are my mistakes, and this post would NOT have been possible without them. So I am grateful for them. Not sorry, just grateful. I am sorry if I ever made anyone feel uncomfortable, though. That falls 100% on me, I absolutely take responsibility for that. And I also take responsibility for saying what the fuck I said. I am so tired of people saying that the word “slips” and it “isn’t who they are.” Yes the fuck it is lmao. Own what you say, even if it is shameful or regrettable, you gotta take accountability, you cannot run from it. So I own what I said, and am sorry if I ever offended anyone, for real, MY BAD.  But I am so glad that from this experience, I was able to study and reflect on my own self, and realized how to love a community better by reducing my usage from 45% to about 5%, the 5% being when “My Type” by Saweetie comes on. So, here comes the olive branch. 

Possible Olive Branch That The Black Community Has Inalienable Rights to Accept, Decline, or Leave On Read

You know, I’m thinking of comparing this to something that I experience culturally, and I think it’s an apt and analogous comparison, so I’m just going to go for it. So, I have many many many friends who are not Latinx, both black and white, who have sort of a thing for Latinx culture. Some of them are really into the music, others like to say whatever words they know off the top of their heads when I see them, and I’m chilling, you know. It’s a little weird, but I’m chilling, because for the most part, they’re appreciative of my culture and I know they just like the beauty in it. I can appreciate that. But you see, I have this line that can be crossed when it comes to getting a little too close and a little too comfortable with my culture and you are, by default, kind of on the outside of it. And I am going to try to explain it. So when a friend of mine all of a sudden feels the strange need to try her hand at Spanglish in an argument with me or while ranting about someone else, it gets cringey. I literally cringe. Because it doesn’t really make sense for you to use a word that you have no connection to in your heat of passion. It immediately makes it less passionate and more awkward for me, because I know you don’t know what the fuck you are saying. It gets even worse when my friends try to anglify Spanish words to me. “Let’s get this fiesta popping-o, Puta!” Need I say how weird that shit is? And my favorite example of all time, is the drunk friend who all of a sudden becomes Al Pachino from Scar Face, screaming all types of profane Spanish words and cackling mercilessly at themselves while doing so. Really. Fucking. Weird. So that’s my personal line with it. But I can definitely deal with friends singing Spanish songs, blasting Spanish music, honestly asking what words mean and even practicing them, and if they want to learn the language, more power to you! So I guess that’s my question for the Black community, is if that’s the same? I totally understand how fucking weird it would be if your non-black friends just randomly came up and said “My nigga” when their voice is naturally nasally and they’re too lanky to take seriously. I get it. I also understand that there are just some rituals and practices that are not meant to be shared with other people outside of your race, and I respect that too. Does singing along to a song by a black artist who uses that word a violation of that respect? Does this go against my whole argument of exclusivity? And, say that it is allowable to sing it like White Chicks, is it actually allowable for literal white chicks and dicks to sing?  Let. Me. Know. Sis. (preferably, in the comments, so we can get some dialogue going 😉 )


India Taina. 

White Chicks Car Scene:

Published by India Taina

Brown skinned (and eyed) (and haired) girl just looking to talk about stuff that interests me (and you guys, too, of course). Student in El Curso de La Vida, learning to take things one day at a time and with a grain of Adobo. Stay tuned for self care tips, discussions on issues that both affect and that are within the Latinx community, and some pretty wild endeavors into my heart and soul. I hope you enjoy this ride as much as I do! Feel free to keep up with me on Instagram as well @xoracionesdelatainax , can't wait to see you there!

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