Who is the nigger?

Now here in this country, we’ve got something called a nigger..
We have invented the nigger.
I didn’t event him.
White people invented him.

I’ve always known,
I had to know by the time I was 17 years old,
What you were describing was not me,
And what you were afraid of was not me
It has to be something else,
Something YOU were afraid of – you invested me with.

Now, if that’s so…
No matter what you’ve done to me,
I can say to you this, and I mean

And I know,
And I’ve always known,
And really always – that’s part of the agony –
I’ve always known that I am not a nigger.
But if I am not the nigger,
And if it’s true that your invention reveals you,
Then who is the nigger?
I’m not the victim here.

I know one thing from another…
I know I was born, I’m gonna suffer and I’m gonna die.
The only way to get through life is know the worst things about it.

I’ve learned this because I had to learn it.
But, you still think, I gather,
That the nigger is necessary.
Well, he’s unnecessary to me,
So he must be necessary to you.
So I give you your problem back.
You’re the nigger, baby; it isn’t me.

-James Baldwin: Who is the Nigger? (excerpt from a 1963 television transcript)

❀

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21 thoughts on “Who is the nigger?

  1. This reminds me of the use of the word cunt. Here in the US it is simply a word not used, period, unless as the final in a series of cutting insults and yet in the UK it is used almost as a term of endearment. Words, words, words… powerful though used carelessly and without thought. Many people are unaware that words can cut deep into a persons very soul. And yet others, racists, bigots, and even ourselves, do know this and use words intentionally for that purpose.

    One thing that sets us apart from animals is language. Language can be used as weapons and well as healing, and everything in between. One has to wonder what society would like had we evolved without verbal language.

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    1. I realize this post is very offensive but there appears to be no way to delete it. I apologize and ask that you would please delete it. I contacted WP but they said that only you could do this. Once again, I apologize for posting such an offensive post. It’s unlike me.

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  2. James Baldwin is the bomb (you remember when it was cool to use that word? lol). Did you see his documentary, I Am Not Your Negro? I feel like these are the sort of history lessons we should have been exposed to instead of that tainted white history that was shoved down our throats. :/ – just saying… lol

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  3. Would you be OK if I cross-posted this article to WriterBeat.com? I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. There is no fee; I’m simply trying to add more content diversity for our community and I lik6ed what you wrote. If “OK” please let me know via email.

    Autumn
    AutumnCote@WriterBeat.com

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    1. Thank you Autumn! I don’t mind. And although I wholeheartedly agree and these thoughts, please note these are the words of the late great James Baldwin, not my own.

      I’m glad you enjoyed. Thanks for tuning in.

      Like

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