Why Do So Many White People Want To Say The N-Word?

My youngest son is obsessed with Humpty Dumpty. It started just before his 3rd birthday when he stumbled upon a barrage of cartoons on his iPad. Of all the songs, and animations, and obscure videos of children playing with toys, he became fixated on Humpty Dumpty. He sings Humpty Dumpty constantly. He routinely pretends he and his stuffed monkey are Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall, falling off wall-like objects — chairs, couches, stairs, obstacles at indoor jungle gyms — shouting, “oh no, daddy. Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall.”

He sleeps to Humpty Dumpty. He wakes up to Humpty Dumpty. He loves Humpty Dumpty. I wouldn’t be surprised if within his emotional hierarchy Humpty Dumpty sits on the same pedestal with his mother, his Gigi (his grandma), and me. If my ex-wife didn’t have creative control over his costume choices — and wasn’t thoroughly annoyed with everything that is Humpty Dumpty — he’d most likely be Humpty Dumpty for Halloween.

It’s an infatuation I envy because at 31 years old, I’ve yet to be consumed by something as much as my son’s affection for a fictitious, clumsy-ass chicken embryo that didn’t have enough sense to stay away from ledges. Which may be more of a pronouncement of my growing deficit of fucks (a condition I’d like to call defucktilitus) than my son’s flourishing passion for the most obscure nursery rhyme. If I’m lucky, he’ll hold on to this obsession long enough for us to do Digital Underground’s Humpty Dance.

But as fixated as my adorable mini-me is about Humpty Dumpty, it still pales in comparison to White people’s burning, deep-rooted desire to say “nigger.” (And just so we’re clear, “nigger” includes any of its variants. Because there’s no justifiable distinction between the hard “er” the “a” or the “ah”.)

Right up there with avocado toast, Birkenstocks, unseasoned chicken breasts, and Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, the “N” word is an essential cornerstone of the “I’m not racist, I have black friends” population. It might as well have its own vision board in angry soccer moms’ homes everywhere. It’s why Lil Dicky created a loophole to say it in his whack-ass song Freaky Friday. It’s why Tanners, Logans, and Chads can’t wait to scream it when {insert black hip-hop/rap/mubble rap artist here} performs at music festivals. It’s why there are viral videos of Madelines, Katelyns, and Emmas screaming it on team buses. It’s why drunk, Klan descendant assholes say it in Applebee’s. And it’s why the incredibly annoying, dumb-ass “If black people can say it, why can’t White people?” argument still exists. (Please, die.)

Yet, I can’t seem to understand why so many Make America Great Again (and MAGA-adjacent) Wypipo are so devoted to employing “nigga” in their basic-ass vocabularies. Like, WHY?! Hell, I’m a black man from Detroit (real Detroit, not that “I grew up in the suburbs but rep the city because it’s trendy now” shit) and I haven’t always wanted to use nigga. In fact, thanks to Chris Rock’s 1996 comedy special “Bring The Pain”, I actively tried to distance myself from the racial slur. I thought if I was educated enough and talented enough, and participated in enough “caucasian” activities I could be seen by my white counterparts as a respectable black man rather than just another nigga. But after a horrendous awakening experience at a University of Florida baseball camp, I realized that I would never not be a nigga. So, thanks to FAMU, a steady diet of Dave Chappelle, and The Roots’ 75 Bars, I have grown to appreciate the profound, self-fulfilling use of nigga by those gifted with melanin pigment. For black folks, everything can be a nigga. Yesterday, I used nigga roughly a hundred times and not one of them was in reference to another black person. Like the parking ticket received when I picked up a sandwich from Flour. Or when I scuffed my hardly worn Andre 3000 Tretorns. Or how I reacted when I received some good news from work. Or my white teammate in a pickup basketball game who was determined to take moonshots from half-court.

The most obvious reason White folks love using the racial epithet is because bigots are miserable, hateful people who seek to torment anyone who doesn’t look like them or share their ideas. And given the tortuous, violent history of the slur, “nigger” presents the easiest means to accomplish this task. But despite the intent, it’s hardly harmful in the way it once was, and now only exists as a barometer of whether someone’s a closeted white supremacist.

It’s like someone walking up to you at a restaurant, pulling down their pants to expose their snowflake ass, and letting out a horrid bare-ass fart a mere inches away from your defenseless nostrils while you’re trying to eat some fucking pancakes. Sure, it’s disgusting and inconvenient, but you’ll live. And more importantly, that nasty, odious motherfucker you suspected was a card carrying member of the Stand For The Anthem club has now exposed themselves as the wretched, racist dick you always thought they were.

Another reason is probably because black people have adopted it and used it to their benefit, and since white people don’t like non-white people to have nice things, they want to take it back. Like how they gave our ancestors pig intestines, cornmeal, and lard because slaves weren’t deserving of decent food. So we turned it into fried chitlins and hot water cornbread. But I’m one hundred percent certain that if Paula Deen’s cousin’s and ‘nem wanted to charge $20 a plate for some pork guts in gentrified hoods, hipster blogs would label it the next big thing. Colonizers just can’t resist colonizing.

Maybe it’s because some White people grew up in predominantly Black neighborhoods, and attended predominant black schools, and pledged in predominantly black fraternities/sororities and dated predominantly black people, and since they have existed in this predominantly black environment for most of their lives they naively — and incorrectly — believe their frequent intimate experiences with black folks affords them permission to use “nigga” as a term of endearment. It doesn’t.

Or maybe it’s because white people secretly envy us, and our culture, and want to get in on all the butters, seasonings, ebonics. So using “nigga” much like tanning, ass & lip injections, and braids make them feel blacker without actually being black. As Paul Mooney once said, “everybody wanna be a nigga, but nobody wanna be a nigga.”

We may never know the true motivation behind White people’s persistent desire to intentionally use this iconic racial slur. Just like I’ll never know why my son loves Humpty Dumpty so much. Or why Humpty Dumpty was sitting his fake regal ass atop the castle’s walls. Nevertheless, white people should find some other shit to be passionate about. Because there are more pressing issues that need your attention. Like gun control and police brutality. Also, white people you should know that you can still catch an ass-whooping if you say nigga in the presence of black folks, especially on 7 Mile and Greenfield in Detroit (because that’s real Detroit, not that trendy, gentrified, hipster shit where you love to takes selfies). Freedom of speech is real, but some words come with a “these hands” surcharge. Niggas, man.

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