A STORE IN AFRICA CALLED “NIGGERS”, AND A WOMAN CALLED “HO”

(Post updated on April 4, 2009)

Editorial
What’s in a Name? Hip-hop’s African Influence

By David Sylvester

Thursday, August 18, 2005.
I recently completed a charitable bicycle trip in Africa, riding over 7000 miles from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa. The trip made me the first and only African American to cross two continents on a bicycle.I have plenty of great and fascinating stories. Many are funny, others bittersweet, some are poignant, but all are entertaining. Surprisingly one story has stood out and if it was not for the fact that I have a picture of it, many would never believe it. It is for that reason that I am sharing it with you.

I have traveled all over the world and have never seen a store by the name of “Jew Devils,” “Spic Bastards,” “Muff Divin’ Dykes” or anything like that- only the store “Niggers.”

While in Lilongwe, Malawi, I came across a store by the name of “Niggers.” That’s right “Niggers!” The other riders, who were all White, could not wait to inform me of this to see my reaction. Initially, I thought that it was a very bad joke but when the other riders were adamant about the existence of the store, I had to see it for myself.

What I found was a store selling what the owner called ‘hip hop’ style clothing. It was manned by two gentlemen – one of them asleep! (Talk about living up to or in this case down to a stereotype). I asked the guys what was up with the store name. After hearing my obvious non – Malawian accent and figuring out that I was from America, the man

thumped his chest proudly and said “P-Diddy New York City! We are the niggers!”

My first reaction was to laugh because many things when isolated can be very funny, but it quickly dawned on me that this was so not funny at all. It was pathetic. I did these bicycle trips across the USA and through the ‘Mother -Land’ in honor of one of my good friends, mentors and fellow African Americans, Kevin Bowser, who died on 9/11.

Here I am, a Black man riding across the world on his bicycle in honor of another Black man, riding ‘home’, and what do I see? Some Africans calling themselves Niggers. They were even so proud of it they put it on their store front to sell stuff. When I relay the story to folks back home in Philadelphia, most of them laugh too and rationalize it by saying ‘well, we can say it to each other’ or ‘there is a difference’ or even ‘they just spelled it wrong. It should have been ‘niggas’ or ‘niggah’s’. Gee, like that would make a difference.

The issue is not the spelling. I was wrong. We are wrong. There is no justification for an infraction of this magnitude. The word and the sentiment behind it are flat out wrong. We have denigrated and degraded ourselves to the point that our backwards mindset has spread like a cancer and infected our source, our brothers, our sisters, our Mother Land.

I have traveled all over the world and have never seen a store by the name of “Jew Devils,” “Spic Bastards,” “Muff Divin’ Dykes” or anything like that- only the store “Niggers.”

I am to blame for this. Every time I said the word, I condoned it. By not correcting others or by rationalizing it, I gave it respectability. By looking the other way when others said ‘hey nigga what’s up’, and when I purchased CDs, DVDs, T-shirts and other stuff, I enriched it. I now see the error in my ways and I am so sorry Black men and women.

The flame that we called entertainment, that was only to warm and entertain us, now engulfs us and scorches our own self esteem. If a child only knows to refer to men and women as niggers, bitches, pimps and hoes, then what is he/she to grow up thinking of themselves?

The bottom line is this: I rode over 12,000 miles on two continents through 15 states and 13 countries and broke two bikes in the process to get to a store in Africa called Niggers. I am willing to step up and admit my part in the havoc that we have wrought on our mindset but I think that we all are to blame.

I will finish with 4 things: if you don’t like being called a Nigger, Bitch, Faggot, Dyke, Spic, Jew Dog, Wop, Towel Head or anything of that ilk, then think. Think before you speak those words, write those lyrics, support that rhetoric. And most of all think before you purchase! Purchasing is akin to compliance. I may like the beats and rhythms of some songs but I can not support it any more. You rappers are intelligent. Find another word to describe yourselves.

A picture is worth a thousand words. For larger view click onto http://playahata.com/images/gallery/hiphopafricaninfluence.jpg.

David Sylvester is a personal trainer, who teaches health to adults in Philadelphia. He e-mailed this story initially to 35 friends. They forwarded the e-mails, and Sylvester has received more than 300 responses, including responses from Japan since the initial e-mail on July 20. See: http://www.contribute2.org/images/david.jpg> for more.

I first came across this article over two years ago, and its impact still hurts. The black men and women, the rappers, the people who have spewed forth this hated word in videos and music have done more harm than they will ever know. The word “nigger” was created by white racists to demean and destroy black people, mentally, and spiritually. That some black people have taken this word and used it as a so-called term of endearment is self-hatred of the worst kind. How can anyone consider taking a word so vile as the word nigger and embrace it, is akin to reaching down and picking up a handful of feces and hugging it to one’s chest.

The history of this word was to hurt and tear to pieces black people. There was never anything good about a word that is one of the worst racial slurs ever created.

Now because of the years of constant barragement of rap videos, this insulting word has been beamed around the world, giving the world an image of a black America that has no respect or dignity for itself.

Such is the legacy that those black people who use this word have created.

And it has not stopped with the word nigger.

The word “ho” (a corruption of the word “whore” first used by white males to disparage black women, to justify the white male rape and sexual abuse of black women and girls) has been inserted into the lexicon of so-called black vernacular speech, from the young black on the street who uses it, to the rap videos that glorify its usage.

On a recent two-part “Town Hall Meeting” episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show during a discussion of the Don Imus comment, “Nappy-Headed Hos”, some black women were discussing how the word ho has been used by black men in rap videos to degrade and defile black women.

One young black woman had visited a city in Europe on a tour, and she was approached by a man of European descent who called out to her,  “Hey, Ho!”

Needless to say, she was shocked.

This does not just happen outside of America; it happens in many cities across America. And many black people, many of whom use the words nigger and ho, wonder why people of other races have no respect for black people.

Those people in that African nation of Malawi, and that European man knew no better. They had learned the use of these hated words because that is what black America has taught the world:    that black people have no respect nor regard for themselves, that they would stoop to calling each other such disparaging words that tell the whole world that black people must be alright with calling each other such nasty, horrible words, so therefore, it can be alright with them to call black people words that they have convinced the rest of the world are all terms of endearment:

Bitch

Ho

Nigger

And it should not surprise black people who use these words to hear non-blacks use them.

Non-black people learned from black people that the taking of words that the white race used to insult and harm us, are now looked upon as okay for black people to have hurled back into our faces as normal forms of greetings.

Once it was the white race that screamed the epithets nigger to destroy, wound and maim the bodies and souls of black people. Once upon a time it the words nigger, bitch, whore and slut that were the domain of white racists. Racists who uttered the word nigger while raping and impregnating black women. Racists who castrated, burned, and tore to pieces black men lynch victims, while those racists yelled the word nigger. Racists who stormed into black communities, burned, looted and destroyed the homes and property of black people, all the while screaming the word nigger. And white people still use these hated words against black people, albeit, in private.

With black people using these words to describe and greet each other, black people do not have to worry about the white race attacking us with words that hurt and tear apart.

Black people have done a good job of telling the rest of the world that they think very little of themselves, by some of them calling each other “nigger” and “ho”, and that all that the black men and women who came before them who have suffered unspeakable horrors from slavery and segregation, have fought and died in  vain. Some young black women even call each other “Bitch”,  that soon it won’t be long before they will be calling each other “Nigger Bitch” as a term of endearment.

Black ancestors who gave their lives, only to have today’s blacks turn around and spit into the faces, and stomp on the graves, of  black people who really lived through the hells of the word  “NIGGER” and “HO” (WHORE), words that were first uttered by white racists, and are now used by blacks in destroying their own image, their own integrity, their own posterity.

 
I have pissed off many a black person because of my stance against the venomous word “Nigger”. often the first comment out of their mouths or on the Internet is the following statement:   “Whites will not respect us less, if we stop using the word nigger”. I consider that response from black people as a lame, cheap, cop-out excuse.
 
NO ONE can make you disrespect yourself more than you are willing to do to yourself.
 
There is a reason why the Staples Singers wrote the song, “Respect Yourself”. I know that I am not a bitch, nigger, ho, or even a nigger bitch, no matter what anyone wants to think of me (white men, black men, or anyone else).
 
That someone else refuses to show me respect says a lot about THEM, not me. That they suffer from such inferiority (whites/blacks/anyone who uses the word nigger) and such self-hatred is something that corrodes them…not me.
 
I look at in this sense that if blacks waited on whites/others for respect, blacks would still be living in slavery/and post-Reconstruction cruelties, and legalized Jane Crow segregation.
 
I do not wait on white men/women for respect, I do not wait on black men for respect, I do not wait on black women for respect, nor any one of another race.
 
I consider myself as worthy of respect…whether the other humans feel that way or not. I do not demand respect…I command respect because I know that I have a right to it.
 
Just as I step aside slightly for a man (black, white, whatever) to open the door for me, I feel that as a woman, and as a human being I shall be respected as having a right to be in this world. Yes, there will be those who will not respect me, and I will not sink to their low-life behaviour, no matter what their race/gender.
 
I do know, when one becomes so angry with clueless people, especially about the nasty, filthy hatred behind the word “Nigger”, that sometimes even profanity is warranted when you either lose your temper OR WORSE…do something that will land you in prison.
 
But there have been many times when I have walked away from a volatile situation (even once, while armed with a handgun on my person) because the man (black, white, etc. or woman assailed me verbally).  It is not always what you can do with your mouth or hands that you can resolve the situation. Sometimes, not resorting to verbal violence/physical violence keeps an already bad situation escalating into mayhem or worse. There are times for anger at people’s stupidity; there are times to calmly educate people about their arrogance and ignorance, in their callous disregard in throwing the word “Nigger” around so cavalierly.
Yes, strength comes in being able to not let someone bring you down to their level, but, sometimes, you can and will use words to tear a person apart when they bring that on themselves.
The blow of a whip raises welts; the blow of a tongue, crushes bones.
 
I know of the origins of the word niggardly (“stingy”); how anyone can get the two words mixed up is beyond me, but, then again, to me reading the dictionary is like reading a good novel.
The word nigger has traveled the globe and come to this:  “niggers” and “hos”. That so many black people think so little of themselves is sick and pathetic.
Lots of blacks accuse me of being harsh in my retorts against asinine self-hate behaviour of some  blacks, but, gentleness has never been my forte when taking on behaviour of some blacks who think they can claim a word like “Nigger” as some delusional term of endearment.
As for “harshness”, hey, I am very caustic with black people around me, in my family, on the job, who lower themselves with the belief that all black people can aspire to is the lowest common denominator:
 
 
-Some black men who think they can shit on black women because they can (when those same black men would not have the balls to do some of the garbage to white women/women of other races, that they so cavalierly do to black women;
-Black women who continue to believe in the “Strong Black Woman” lie which has been killing black women for generations, because the so-called black community cares very little for black women the way it so steadfastly looks out for black men;
-The high illegitimate rates among blacks because of the devaluation of marriage, and CHILDREN;
-The greed and hypocrisy of homophobic/black-woman-hating-so-called-black men by the name of Snoopy Dog and Fitty Cent who got rich off the “bitch-ho” hate on black women because they wanted money so bad;
-Blacks disregard for the importance of an education when so many black people lost their lives to learn how to read and sought out an education;
-Many blacks who do not consider the overall impact the SCOTUS has on black people’s lives (moreso than any president ever can have)
And comments such as the following that I have met across the Internet:
“Why not focus those energies to get upset over real problems like public school funding? Just my thoughts….and thank yall again for the workday distraction “
I already do address such issues, and I am not afraid to challenge blacks, whites or other humans for their complacency and apathy:
 
 
 
 
So. . . .
. . . .harshness with people comes to me from the desire to tell people they do not have to seek a  low-level of themselves, especially in this day and age.
 
So, I already get “upset” over concerns that are of great importance to the black community.
 
 
And I shall continue.
 
People hunger for the truth more than many people realize.
 
People desire standards of decency more that many people realize.
 
I have tremendous respect for my black ancestors (yes, I worship and respect their sacrifices and legacy),  so I will not shit on their memory.
 
And it is definitely not about what white people think or do not do.
 
It is about what black people as a race should wish to elevate in themselves.
 
Never underestimate the power of words.
 
They can cut, they can hurt….they can kill.
 
And it is not “being on black people’s backs” when some black people already address the dire issues that plague the black community of today. That includes the use of the word “Nigger” by blacks who care nothing for the violent malicious history of this hated word.
Advertisements

10 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

10 responses to “A STORE IN AFRICA CALLED “NIGGERS”, AND A WOMAN CALLED “HO”

  1. Y. Carrington

    Non-black people learned from black people that the taking of words that the white race used to insult and harm us, are now looked upon as okay for black people to have hurled back into our faces as normal forms of greetings.

    Ann, I have to respectfully disagree here. Yes, we all need to quit using the n-word and the b-word in everyday speech; it’s dehumanizing as hell and it aggravates our collective self-hatred. But even if Black people never used another oppressive slur in personal conversation ever, white folks would still utter these slurs, still pump out racist/misogynist stereotypes in entertainment, and still spread antiblack racism across the world. Folks in Africa, Asia, and Latin America would still believe all the racist lies that they’ve learned about African Americans through the global media. African Americans aren’t giving white people permission to be racist, because white folks feel entitled to be racist anyway.

    This is how white supremacy works. It hasn’t lasted five hundred years for nothing.

  2. stephaniegirl

    Thanks Ann for sharing this sad article. White supremacist society daily brainwash us, via media, entertainment, politics, academia, toys, games, images, that peoples of African descent and Black women in particular are the least worthy of all peoples that their lives mean absolutely nothing at all to whites. Like Ms. Carrington said, even when we stop using the word ourselves, white folks still have their hateful racist/sexist ideals, but it would give us the courage to resist and to defeat our enemies of humanity by not imitating nor uttering such self-hating speech and actions, by not being used by the powers that be who promote such vile hatred of African peoples around the world and gleefully promoted. By having self-respect and love among ourselves, we can defeat the haters of humanity. After all, humanity originated in Africa.

    Stephanie B.

  3. Steve

    Stephanie B, I agree with many points you make, but also try being gay if you want brainwashing and slurs, but most deplorably, a second class citizenship in the U.S. and many countries worldwide.
    Do you think that if Blacks or heterosexuals were told one day that the legality of their marriage was voided simply because they were Black or heterosexual that the entire nation wouldn’t UPRISE in arms and explode in flames? Gays in 2008 endure FAR more than any other race or type of person on the entire planet – as a result of the same brainwashing “via media, entertainment, politics, academia, toys, games, images” that you say Blacks do. As a gay person, you are completely INVISIBLE in advertising. Oh yes, advertisers are finally getting smart up and placing ADS in gay magazines, but when have you EVER seen mainstream media advertising which includes gay couples in love or gay parents? Every bit of mainstream media includes races of all types but not one single instance of gay couples to be found. ASTOUNDING! It’s like they think that gays don’t exist, much less do things like share a smile over the same idiotic products that Black, Asian, Latino, and white couples seem to oogle over in advertisements. “Oh, darling, this computer/vacuum cleaner/car/shampoo brings us such joy and induces romance in our life. I’m so glad we bought it! Look at us holding hands as we oogle it!” Ever see a same-sex couple do that in an ad? On TV in a commerical? In “family” magazines or ANY magazines for that matter? You want to talk brainwashing? Seriously, try being gay.
    As for slurs, there are many slurs that whites hurl at Blacks, and Blacks hurl at Asians, and Asians hurl at whites and so on, but the ONE SINGLE UNIVERSAL slur – the one that ALL races use against one single type of human being is an anti-gay slur. Whether it’s “faggot” or even now the actual word “gay” being used to mean something derogatory, it’s the only slur that crosses social, economic AND racial lines. It even crosses all barriers of LANGUAGE to find its own version or meaning in every single language in the WORLD! Now THAT’S a powerful slur. And sadly, it’s one that’s still allowed, even in schools, without very often the blink of an eye. But I agree with you again on several points, Stephanie B, and I will quote you once more as your insight applies to gays just as much as it applies to Blacks: “By having self-respect and love among ourselves, we can defeat the haters of humanity.” Let love rule!

  4. kope187

    First of all “nigger” was not just a word that whites used. In fact my experiences in Iraq tought me that the Arabic word for black people was……”nigger.” This is a word used by many races to describe blacks in a negative way. So lets not try and claim that its the white man’s fault again like one of your readers claimed in his comments.

    Cool picture, but yea I agree not so cool. The guy sitting in the chair looks like he wants to beat your ass by the way haha.

    What we really need are some good white jokes. I saw you say spic, dyke, I can’t even name them all so I guess that means you know more racial words than me, but you forgot cracker. Although cracker is not a good one. We need a good white joke. Something mean. Something cruel about how lazy the white man is. I dunno. Anyone know one?

    http://www.kope187.wordpress.com

  5. Ann

    “So lets not try and claim that its the white man’s fault again like one of your readers claimed in his comments.

    There is much historical documentation of white men’s use of the word nigger against black people. It is what it is. As for the Arabic word for black (“abid”), that is a burden they have put upon themselves in their denigrations of black people, just as whites have done to themselves with the hateful use of the word nigger against black people.

    “I saw you say spic, dyke, I can’t even name them all so I guess that means you know more racial words than me, but you forgot cracker.”

    Then you will have to go back and read the post again.

    Nowhere did I mention any of those words. I spoke of the word nigger.

    You will have to take up the discussion of the pejorative terms you mentioned with the referenced author of the article, David Sylvester.

    His words, verbatim:

    “I will finish with 4 things: if you don’t like being called a Nigger, Bitch, Faggot, Dyke, Spic, Jew Dog, Wop, Towel Head or anything of that ilk, then think. “

  6. kope187

    The race that uses the word nigger the most is black. I think you proved that.

    Good google on the Arabic word for “black.” Obviously there is a difference between the color and the race as you can imagine.

    I do have a question. I assume that you are the most biased towards whites. I honestly do not know that many whites that say nigger and talk racist. The races that really hate blacks are Asians. I mean everyone of my Asian friends hates blacks more than anything in the world. Only reason I say that is because you keep implying that nigger is only a white word and the whitey started it and has infected the rest of the world with it. I think P Diddy infected Africa with that word hahahaha.

    • Ann

      “The race that uses the word nigger the most is black. I think you proved that.”

      No. My essay addresses Blacks using a word that denigrates them; a word that Whites have used against them. Using it as a term of endearment does not remove the words history or sting.

      “Good google on the Arabic word for “black.”

      Didn’t have to google it. I have known of the racist Arabic term for many years.

      “I assume that you are the most biased towards whites.”

      No, I am biased towards racist people.

      “I honestly do not know that many whites that say nigger and talk racist.”

      At least not publicly stated.

      “The races that really hate blacks are Asians. I mean everyone of my Asian friends hates blacks more than anything in the world.”

      And what would their reasons be for hating Blacks? Have Blacks attacked and colonized their countries the way Whites have? Have Blacks enslaved their people the way Europeans have? Have they been vilified and made a mockery of by Blacks the way Whites have done to many non-white races with racist caricatures, stereotypes, imagery and minstrelsy?

      “Only reason I say that is because you keep implying that nigger is only a white word and the whitey started it and has infected the rest of the world with it.”

      The word nigger was first used against enslaved Africans by Europeans/Whites.

      That P. D. uses it does not mean he created the word.

      And many foreigners, over the years and decades, who have come to this country (way before P.Diddy was born), learn a new word within a few weeks of their being here:

      Nigger.

  7. kope187

    Have Blacks attacked and colonized their countries the way Whites have? Have Blacks enslaved their people the way Europeans have?

    You wanna have equal rights and be treated equal but you don’t wanna be included when it comes war for example. I don’t know why my Asian friends and their families feel the way that they do, but they are not living in any country but the USA. The only blacks that have attacked them are thugs and comedians, not to say that no other race has never done this, but in comedy for example no white man is gonna make fun of another race and if he does he has to be very careful. Blacks on the other hand make fun of anyone they choose to because, well, they have been oppressed, so its ok if they do it. What blows my mind and hopefully you can go into more depth because I genuinely would like to hear a legitimate argument for something that you said. How are blacks not included in being European? How are they not included in being American? Our country went to war and all I hear or let me rephrase. I hear many blacks claiming that it was da white man dat went to war. Who? Bush? You live in this country or Europe just like the rest of us. You have the right to vote. The president does something wrong and the cop out is that it was a white man. You want equal rights and treatment and I still see fools claiming to not have that fair treatment, but you do not want any of the responsibility. I tell people all of the time that if you are not willing to fight for your country or serve it(not necessarily in the military) or just constantly put it down, then you can move, or is that nice warm bed you have just too much to let go of. When my chosen leaders do something regardless of their race, I take full responsibility for their actions. I would never in my life say that well our president is half white so blame it on that. If you simply want to compare black leadership versus white, Asian, or any other race for that matter, and you want to base their leadership on their race then look at Africa and that’s all you need to say about black leadership. Granted I would not doubt that most of their leaders were white. Just not the leaders of the rebel groups that really run shit. Definitely not the leaders that sold their own black people into slavery to the white man as well as the Asian man and Hispanic man.

    Yes most likely you are right. The Europeans and whites that bought blacks from other blacks in Africa and where ever else, are responsible for the start of the word nigger. Maybe it would help if blacks helped to stop the use of the word by removing it from their everyday language. I can assure you that I don’t call my buddy up and say whats up nigga. Well I have as a joke or something after watching a primarily black movie or something. I prefer what up cracka. I have by the way been called a racist for using the word cracker as a joke with friends before. A word used to be hateful towards whites and somehow it still got twisted around on the white man. hahahahaha Point is you can say it was the white man that started it but if it bothers you that much then be the ones that end it. Assume responsibility of your race since you want to be individuals obviously and stop the use of it.

    • Ann

      Assume responsibility of your race since you want to be individuals.

      Learn the difference between colonization, and patriotism in fighting for your country. Many Black women and men have fought for America, and have been just as patriotic as anyone else.

      And not all Black Americans are thugs.

      Now, this round-about conversation is at an end.

      You have more of a problem with the history of the word nigger.

      Accept the history of this hated word, and get on with your life.

      Be a man and acknowledge that.

      ‘Kay?

      No further comments from you are needed.

  8. Jamal

    MODERATOR:

    This comment deleted due to use of profanity, pejorative terms and the commentor’s self-hatred.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s