Nigger or Nigga, what’s the difference?  Nah, really?

 

Before I begin, please allow me to say, this is not my attempt to intellectualize the use of the N-word.  I personally think that’s an oxymoron in itself.  Instead I’m more interested in obtaining clarity in our usage of the word by asking how do we intelligently make an argument that nigga differentiates from nigger?  Nigger or nigga, I ask, “What’s the difference”?   

Written by Cornell Dews

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.”  The latter of the definition is what we “black folks” have attempted to institute into doctrine.  We’ve attempted to do it by stating that “nigga” is not the same as “nigger.”  Instead, “nigga” is a word of endearment according to many of us.  And we’ve indoctrinated it into our culture simply by substituting the ‘er’ in the word nigger with an ‘a’ as if that changes the definition.  Damn. 

We have all heard the argument, if not participated in it ourselves, “I said nigga with an ‘a’ not the ‘er’.”  I ask, what’s the difference?  If you honestly consider the African American vernacular, which by the way, reference books have been created for translation and application, most of our words that end in ‘er’ we substitute with an ‘a’.  And of course, this obviously changes the spelling of the word, but purposely the meaning of the word stays in tact.  For example, gangster is now pronounced and written as gangsta, but is it defined differently?  We’ve seen the word murder pronounced and written as murda, but again do the definition of the original word change?  There are a slew of words that this is applicable to, for the sake of space, I’ll just print a few.  (you may not be able to find our pronunciation of these words in a standard dictionary, but nevertheless we use them) 

o        Banger/bangao        Reefer/reefao        Burner/burnao        Buster/bustao        Chopper/choppao        Ever/eva (with or without the ‘for’)o        Teacher/teachao        Preacher/preachao        Rapper/rappa 

With all of the words being said, we commonly substitute ‘er’ with an ‘a’ but the meaning stays the same except when we say the word nigger.  How could that possibly be?  We need to realize that’s an asinine argument.   

One of my favorite rappers of all time, Mr. Tupac Shakur, is credited for creating the acronym for NIGGA, which stands for “never ignorant getting goals accomplished.”  With all due respect to Mr. Shakur and his family, how is that definition applicable to our people and our community?  I know that the attempt was to take a word with a negative connotation and definition and do the inverse, but that’s practically impossible especially in this case.  Consider those of us who are “getting goals accomplished” minus the ignorance, do we define or refer to ourselves as nigga’s?  Or how about those who are “getting goals accomplished” from selling drugs, hustling or living a particular lifestyle that leaves them uninformed, unaware and uneducated about the world, would they consider themselves “never ignorant”?   

Nigger is what nigga is.  There’s no getting around it.  Consider this, the word nigger is defined the same in more then thirty different languages throughout the world.  Regardless of how it’s pronounced the definition stays the same.  Regardless of how it’s written, the definition stays the same.  Except in our community where we’ve tried to erase and embrace.  Erase the word in its original context and embrace it in our own, by simply substituting an ‘er’ with an ‘a’ and giving it an acronym and a new definition.  I mean, we’re some bad folks (bad meaning good of course), but damn, how did we do that? 

Even with using the acronym, never ignorant getting goals accomplished, who would knowingly define themselves as such?  Even Tupac wasn’t a nigga.  Like many of us, I’m sure he was called one on several different occasions, but that’s not who he was.  Ask his mother.  Or better yet, ask yours.  Can you imagine a child asking a parent “am I a nigger?”  And the parent respond by saying, “yeah, but you’re the one with an ‘a’ not an ‘er’.”  How intelligent is that? 

  

Written by Cornell Dews

(thank you for reading)