Date: Fri, 31 Oct 1997 19:13:02 EST
From: Monkmag Monkmag[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: Re: PC Dictionaries?
In a message dated 10/28/97 7:12:31 AM, you wrote:
DARE has evidence, both written and oral, of the use of "nigger" to refer
"any person perceived as uncouth, immoral, or threatening, regardless of
skin color." It is used especially frequently by Black speakers. See sense
I find this particular issue one of the more interesting ones in the
discussion. We also have this sense in RHHDAS (sense 3, "Now esp. Black
E. a reprehensible person (of any race); lout; (used as a coarse term of
contempt)."), with written and oral citations.
However, one could make the claim that few or none of these examples
truly represent this sense in free use. Many of our examples, and
those in DARE, consist of black speakers simply denying that "nigger"
means 'a black person' and claiming that it means 'a reprehensible
person'. Even the examples using it in context--for instance, Chris
Rock's now famous "Black people vs. niggers" sketch ("There's a civil
war going on between black people and niggers....You can't go to the
movies because there's niggers shooting at the screen")--do not use
it in a race-neutral manner.
While I think this sense probably does exist, it is nowhere near as
common as it is claimed to be.
jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]panix.com
In my ample experience playing "hoops" in all kinds of neighborhoods, in all
parts of America I, a very white Midwestern American, am frequently called
"nigger." It can either be a term of endearment or a slight put-down, as in
"c'mon, nigger, you know you can't hit that." Or sometimes as a more
vociferous put-down, as in, "shut up nigger, you don't know what you talkin'
about." Or sometimes as a playful joke amongst other black men, as in, "look
at that nigger, he's a real Billy Hoyle" (the Wood Harrelson character from
White Men Can't Jump). Of course, the use of nigger amongst blacks themselves
has both positive and negative connotations. Positive as a greeting-- "s'up
nigger?" or negative (as in the Chris Rock sketch and others).
In the examples I have listed above, nigger can definitely be applied to non-
black people (I've heard it applied to Asians, Latinos, etc.), but the roots
in its current usage invariably go back to black rap slang and thus to blacks
themselves. So, while its usage among white, Latino and Asian Yo Boys or
wiggers indicates the term may have transcended race, its roots remain very