Tuesday, 14 December 2010

....2 Curious.... African-American Readers......... I Have A Question For You....

............now I have several black men (that's ok for a white aussie jew to say yes?) who read this blog............and hopefully by now you all realise that with the exception of hating on racists, I don't have a racist bone in a my body........... and I have a question for you..........

...actually I have two.........

(1) Names.

Lafayette. Shaniqua. Latisha. Tomika. Dashaun.

I am wondering how these names are derived. To me they are completely foreign and somewhat - sorry - funny sounding. Considering I am a Down Under Jew - foreign is probably a good word to use - but seriously wondering where they names come from. Some are interesting. Some seem like a mouthful.

(2) Nigga

OK - this is what I know. Nigga was a term used during slavery and the years of segregation as a derogatory term for coloured men and women. Now........... my question...... why is there a segment of the African American community that are trying to "reclaim" that word?

To me - this is a bad word that describes and signposts two dreadful periods of American history - America being my 2nd home.

The period of slavery was a horrific affront against an entire people. Segregation was an affront to an entire people. With that in mind, I am baffled that rappers and a segment of the general Black community would try to reclaim this word and make it a positive thing.

To me - attempting to reclaim it means these people don't care about the history attached to the word. It would be like my people - Jews - trying to reclaim the word Holocaust. I can't imagine being with some Jews and someone saying "I'm having a Holocaust party. Bring a pot, I got the ovens on LOL"..... I mean OH MY GOD!!!!

So why would African Americans want to reclaim Nigga?? This is something that to me is a COMPLETE anathema.

Please - Toddy - Mecha - Sozo - ANYONE - explain this to me. I do not understand it.

Thanking you and I hope you take this article in the intention with which it is written.

Shalom to all of you

Damien

***UPDATE***

I just got a rather nasty email from someone calling both me and this article childish.
Please read the article properly. Do not read anything into it OTHER than these are both genuine inquiries about a culture I do not pretend to understand.
.

13 comments:

Sozo's Blog.com said...

I am by no means the expert, but let me give it a whirl.

Names...

That's an interesting one, because typically most black people were uneducated for centuries. They took on tribal names and customs and named their kids after customs that began at the tower of babel.

For example Africa natives named children after a day of the week, so we get names like Kwami which means Friday.

As the slave trade progressed people were tore apart and customs broken and so they did their best to keep their identity and roots.

Today that same spirit persists but in a much different sense, with mothers naming their children out of uniqueness and names that sound pretty or our popular.

Nigga..

There is a huge difference between Nigga and Niger.

Niger is the derogatory name that gets used in ignorance and racist hatred.

I don't know when Nigga began but it's a taken owner ship of something that was bad and turning it into a term of endearment among brothers.

That said, Nigga is not something a white person should use either, and even some black people have a problem with the term all together.

Nigga though is just a word like brother, homie, friend, pal, etc....just don't use it.

Someone will probably come along with some better answer, but that is what I've gleamed from my time on earth and my love for chocolate! :)

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Sozo about Nigga. However the alternative is Nigger not Niger (River in Africa).

Here in Australia, the Aboriginal people call themselves Murri, a name very rarely used by whites. The name Nigger has the same racist implications here and is generally regarded as taboo. That said, a grandstand at a sports field in Toowoomba is named The E.S. Nigger Brown Stand. Nigger, in that context, was a nickname given to a small, fair-skinned, blonde boy named Brown over 60 years ago. A couple of vocal aboriginal activists want the word removed, but many local aboriginals say it is not offensive in context and should stay.

Go figure!!

billy2

Sozo's Blog.com said...

I did a lil more foot work and found that the word Nigga was used amongst black even during the time of slavery as well. It was used as a derogatory term even then.

Understanding the lack of education and proper English and proper dialect. You see that instead of pronouncing the word Nigger, it was Nigga.

There was jealousy amongst slaves as some "house niggers, or niggas" saw themselves better than the field worked because they got to stay in the house in a butler type of roll and many even took on the view of the slave owners and saw the "field niggas" as property and less then they were.

Modern day, people have taken ownership so to speak, but depending on the usage Nigga can still be derogatory as well as a "term of endearment" amongst brothers.

DuPree said...

A friend of mine once explained to me that the types of names in the first part of your entry come from the practice of combining the names of the father and mother.

So - Latoya and Shawn might name a child 'Lashawn'.

I have no way of knowing if this is true, but it certainly sounded a reasonable explanation.

Damien Oz said...

DuPree now that DOES sound like a reasonable explanation.

Mechadude2001 said...

1. I pretty much agree with what Sozo said about the names. Keep in mind, Black people once spoke something other than english. Because of slavery, the link to the past, and our history was severed. On the plantations, it was forbidden to speak the native language, for fear of plots/rebellion. So... as our language was denied us... so were our customs and history. So in essence, Black People are recreating a custom. It seems the more disconnected a Black person feels from America, the more likely they'll have a unique sounding name.
2. The dreaded N Word. You'll hear all kinds of opinions and theories on this one. So my take isn't any more right or wrong than the next guys. Basically, I think it's as ludicrous as you do. For something to be so painful to our past... for those of us that hold onto it, it looks like evidence of severe psychological damage/ and disconnect from the past. It's akin to a an abused child bullying his classmates. Trapped in a viscious cycle, and repeating it.
The word is so commonplace, for so long, that we don't even bat an eye when we hear it. It's like the greatest trick ever played on us.

Mechadude2001 said...

And what Dupree said, might be true too, but only for a few people. I've met women that have names that sound like a hybrid of both parents name. But that is in no means a common practice.

Wonder Man said...

The names was a mix of African and being Creative. It's cute and not cute

The re-claiming piece is not accepted by all of us. I don't want to reclaim it at all. But the Nigga is a term of endearment

Damien Oz said...

Thank you all for your input and thank you for taking the article in the spirit it was intended.

Sozo's Blog.com said...

To the person who said this article was childish...tell them to pull the cob out of their ass and relax a lil. Good grief, people can't ask anything anymore...

Mr. Toddy English said...

I agree with Wonder man on the names. Sometimes Afrocentric names are very cute (LaKiffany, Treyvond, and Keisha); and sometimes not cute (Latrina, DeCorian, and Larechtomie). To me it is about being creative. And I know it became popular in the 70's, after ROOTS aired, for children to be named African/Arabic names. I grew up with tons of: Jamals, Ahmads, Hakeems, and etc (born in the 80's). But I notice most teens born in the 90's have names that are amalgamations of their parents names. In addition I notice that a lot of parents are naming their children after brand names, labels, and adjectives for opulence (i.e. Dynasty, Dior, Treasure, Sincere, Chrystal, and etc).

Cubby said...

I'm late in reading, but I thought this post and subsequent comments were fantastic. These are the kinds of blog posts that I crave most deeply.

Damien Oz said...

Cubby - I am trying to get some of these types of posts back on the blog.