Psychology of the "N-Word"
Kamau Tebogo Zulu Damali (Raynell D. Morgan),
Dec. 29, 2006
remember growing up with the notion that the "n-word"
was a part of me, like my hair, nails, nose, internal organs, and
so forth. I recall one day in the early 80s when my Pops, Big Floyd,
nearly had a heart attack after overhearing me call my eldest brother,
Wook, a nigger during a heated exchange. Pops sat me down and asked
me, did I know the origin of that word and what it stood for? I
told him something to the effect that it was the national nickname
for Black people. Pops shook his head in disbelief and lectured
me for an hour about the meaning of that word - its painful, racist
history / origin. He eloquently explained why I should eliminate
it from my vocabulary, pointing out that the word was an insult
to our ancestors and the integrity of Afrikan people - not only
in Amerika, but the world over.
the time of the lecture, I was only a youngster of 7 or 8 years,
and even though I clearly heard what Pops said, and knew he meant
well, at that age I just wasn't receiving enough to grasp everything
he said in its full meaning. And because of this lack of understanding,
I continued to use the "n-word" to describe myself and
the residents of my beloved community. As I grew, and clashed with
the injustice system, hearing white racists who I was doing time
with articulate the word nigger not only enraged me, but it made
me pay more attention. My rage was a hypocritical rage, and I did
not recognize it as such until I became conscious and aware of myself
and my being.
the course of jailing, I have studied the word "nigger"
extensively and found that slave holders denominated Afrikan people
as such to suggest that they were scum, worse than pigs being slaughtered,
worse than the outhouses they relieved themselves in. The slave
holders called us niggers because a nigger was someone less than
human - an ape... a "porch monkey," a "coon,"
a person that deserved to be raped, murdered, mutilated, neglected,
and subject to a long list of other atrocities. To the Afrikan man
and woman, "nigger" meant being the white man's property,
being raped indiscriminately, mutilated for pleasure, murdered at
random, denied freedom and treated like dirt. Some say The roots
of the word derive from the Niger (Nee-jeer) River in Western Alkebulan
(Afrika), but upon further investigation I found that the original
name for the Niger River is "Oya." Oya means "the
water in which blackness flows." The word Niger varies in definition.
In Hebrew, "Niger" means Black and is the surname of one
of the Prophet Jacob's (Alayhi-Salam) sons, Simeon (read Acts, 13:
1). In French, it means Black as well. But in Portuguese, it means
"ape." There's a parable that says when the Portuguese
exploiters saw the gorillas sipping water from the Oya River, they
named it the Ape River (Niger River). During the 16th Century the
Portuguese led the way in the Afrikan slave trade, and as such Afrikan
human being weren't the only entities they traded with their European
(English, Dutch, et. al.) counterparts in crime. They also traded
bits and pieces of each other's languages and traditions. The British
added to the words of the Portuguese, as was the case with Niger
by annexing another "g" to it. And with malice, labeled
us as such.
same with the word "Negro" (nay-grow) in Spanish means
"Black," but its meaning isn't why the racist British
and Amerikkkans called us negroes. To paraphrase what Brother Born
Allah wrote in his piece (Sanctioned by Statute) about the words
negro and necro, the British and Amerikkkans, through their enslavement
and dehumanisation process, reduced the Alkebulanian (Afrikan) mindset,
culture, religion, and way of life to nothingness. We were violently
dissuaded from maintaining our ways of transmitting religious and
cultural knowledge to the future generations. In this fashion, even
those of us who refused Christianity and other Eurocentric Western
ideologies lost our culture, belief system, identity, and way of
life. Plus, the British wanted the Alkebulanians in North Amerikkka
(U.S.A., Jamaica, Barbados, etc.) to believe that we were different
from our brothers and sisters in Alkebulan and that the Negroes
in Amerikkka had no past, no history, nor anything other than slavery.
The racist British and their racist Amerikkkan subjects reasoned
that the so-called "Necro," which they began calling us,
was not only a dead body, but was to them, negative and devilish
in skin pigment as well. They believed that when they heard the
racist white Spanish slave holders refer to us as negro, that they
were really saying "necro" and concluded that since negro
is a Latin word similar to necro (another Latin word), it didn't
mean Black, but dead. And when they used the word "nigger,"
they didn't mean black, but "ape."
lot of Afrikan individuals, like Gabriel Prosser (Aug. 30, 1800)
and Nat Turner (Aug. 21, 1831), refused to be niggers and fought
to break Amerikkka's chains. They realized that death for freedom
was better than oppression. A nigger does not want to be free. He/she
enjoys the confusion, ignorance, mental enslavement and darkness
that comes with being a nigger. A nigger doesn't know who he or
she is. They do not have respect for themselves. A nigger is one
who has no sense of identity, nor a sense of freedom. If you are
Black and have an identity and a sense of freedom, then you are
not a nigger, you are an Afrikan. Stop calling yourself "nigger,"
for a nigger is not an Afrikan, and an Afrikan is not a nigger.
Once I realized who I was as
a human being, an Afrikan man, I no longer wanted to be or be called
nigger. I began to study myself and developed, in the process, a
appreciation for those who mirror me in both Alkebulanian feature
strongly encourage the Black man and woman, who describe themselves
and our people as niggers, or excuse me - "niggaz," to
delete it from their lingo. It's nasty, racist, disrespectful, and
a slap in the face to all our forefathers and mothers who rebelled
against everything that the word nigger represents: slavery, rape,
confusion, white supremacy, non-description, etc. Some argue that
it is only a word, and that words don't hurt, which is categorically
untrue. Words do hurt. In fact, they start wars. This young blood,
six years back, expressed to me that his reason for using the word
"nigger" was because it is cool, popular, hip, and widely
used by everyone in his community. So I asked him what if a white
person called him a nigger, and his reply was, and I quote, "I
would knock that hunky's block off and spit on him." I pointed
out the blatant contradiction of his position and he attempted to
justify it by offering that it's not the same. I told him that it
was the same and that when Black people use that word, they sound
just like the Klu Klux Klan. Here's the deal, the "n-word"
is brutal and cannot be justified. It's a word that emanated from
the culture of white supremacy and oppression, and to acknowledge
it is to suggest that we still belong to the slave master. Unless
we are ready to say that we are members of the Aryan Nation, the
KKK, and the Neo-Nazi, Skin Head Party, and are only three-fourths
human, then we must concede that this word is abhorrent and must
refrain from using it accordingly.
and love to the Motherland
Reformed Conscious Prisoner,
Kamau Tebogo Zulu Damali
aka Raynell D. Morgan #279380
WSPF, P.O. Box 9900
Boscobel, WI 53805
This submission includes paraphrased excerpts from "Sanctioned
by Statute," by brother Born Allah.
Kamau T.Z. Damali would like to hear from you. If you'd like to
share feedback on his essay or other support, please write to him
D. Morgan (aka Kamau T. Z. Damali)
WSPF Delta Unit 221
1101 Morrison Drive
PO Box 9900
Boscobel, WI 53805
T. Z. Damali is housed in Wisconsin's sole supermax, the Wisconsin
Secure Program Facility. He describes himself as a self-educated
man who has been learning Swahili and dreams of receiving a college
degree if ever released. He recently completed a book entitled,
Prison Letters, and is working on a second, called Poetic Revolution.
Kamau T. Z. Damali is helping his wife-to-be plan the founding of
a nonprofit organization for underprivileged children in Washington,
D.C. Most of his writings "revolve around the Black experience
and the importance of breaking chains and taking back our communities
- to give our youth and future generations a hopeful future [...]
It's incumbent upon us to participate in the uplifting of our people,
and since at the moment our only tool is the pen, we've used this
to reach the people and to get out the truth."
You may contact Kamau T. Z. Damali directly by writing to him at
the address listed above. The following link offers tips for writing
to prisoners: http://prisonersolidarity.org/TipsForWritingPrisoners.htm