“This was seen by my nephew who is attending SDSU in his dorm bathroom our young Lakota men & women who are attending higher education institutions are also being educated on how racism still exists with their neighbors. For many of us who experience this for many years we learned how to tolerate this, yet for these young people they are traumatized.” - Wayne Weston
I love how black people still get insulted when we aren’t even the target of the insult.
Prairie Nigger. Sand Nigger. The source of all world niggers trickle down from us. We are the Nigger API and everyone else builds nigger apps on top of our code.
So I debated reblogging this in its full form for a bit. If this was old Racialicious, circa 2010 or before, there would have been no hesitation - Carmen & I were both in favor of not treating words with kid gloves for various reasons. In 2014, most contributors are uncomfortable using racial slurs in their full form, so we’ve widely stopped using them on site. (Our official policy is that we generally don’t censor - it’s the contributor’s choice and they assume responsibility for whatever fallout occurs.)
But this framework of a nigger API was too good to let pass. One, it illuminates the lie that is race - if how we construct racial distinctions isn’t a fiction, calling someone a derivative of nigger would make no sense. It would invalidate the basis of slur. But racism doesn’t follow any logic but its own.
Two, how we use language to reinforce that the worse thing to be in this world is a nigger- other slurs are built on top of the term, not in addition to the term, though every racial group has been saddled with their own respective slurs.
Three, the idea of a nigger API makes me think of a racism API, which is one of our core arguments all along - oppression operates in the same formats, runs the same scripts over and over. It is tweaked to be context specific, but it’s all the same source code. And the key to its undoing is recognizing how many of us are ensnared in these same basic patterns and modifying our own actions.
And four, even engaging with terms on this level shows the violence inherent in slurs and how they are calibrated for maximum damage. No doubt, people are going to flinch and feel triggered seeing this pop up on their dash, in the same way those poor students had to flinch and feel triggered while getting their education. In that way, the slur is effective - even looking at the hastily scrawled word prompts an immediate reaction.
But sharing kingjaffejoffer's comment will also create some very complicated situations - in using the term to illuminate a dynamic, a new kind of gate is opened. Is it possible to utilize a racial slur to illuminate an oppressive dynamic without falling prey to that dynamic?
In the 1960s, activists attempted to use to use a term called “niggerization” to discuss a process. One of the most famous of those was Flo Kennedy, who said:
Niggerization is the result of oppression—and it doesn’t just apply to the black people. Old people, poor people, and students can also get niggerized.
However, it was too difficult to actually convey anything of substance because of the explosive nature of the term, so it falls in and out of favor. (Most recently used by Cornel West and Toure, google to see the disaster that ensued with public usage of a complicated, activism influenced term.) When a participant in Slutwalk hoisted a “woman is the nigger of the world” sign, we looked at the history of the song and appropriation of terms of oppression without a commitment of solidarity.
The nigger API is a clever turn of phrase. But as soon as I hit post and help spread this event at SDSU and the secondary comment, the slur will launch into action (quite like the malicious code currently hijacking the main site), changing the intent and meaning of this very post based on the identity of the person who posts it and their intent in sharing the post. Which ultimately means the app wins again.
Fascinating, isn’t it? - LDP