The N*gga Blog By Russell Simmons | Global Grind

One word. One word that can cause pleasure and pain at the same time. Probably the most controversial word in the history of the English language. Let’s explore this word…

Let me start with how it was created. In the slave fields, this word was used liberally. Slave masters loved this word. No pleasure behind the meaning. All pain. But, less than a hundred and fifty years after slavery ended, for some the word has become a term of endearment. The evolution of the word is kind of like the history of black people’s relationship with chitlins and pig’s feet. While the white slave masters feasted on the belly of pig, we got stuck with the feet and the guts. We took the trash and turned it into a delicacy, that was our genius. Not the food, but the ingenuity that refined it. ‘Cause I’m sure most you already know, I definitely don’t want to celebrate the belly or the feet of the pig (I’m a vegan), I just want to celebrate the creativity of black people.

Similarly, the experience with the word is arguably part of our genius. We were able to take a vicious, racist term and make it a term of endearment. What up my… That’s my… You my… or just simply, My…. We took control of something that was used for so much hate and made it love.

I know that there are a lot of people who are still offended by this word, white and black. It might mean something different to you than it does to me. Sometimes people say the word and we think they don’t have the right to say it. It is true, passes aren’t easy to get, especially for those who don’t have a direct bloodline to slavery; we certainly don’t hand them out too often.

Don’t be mistaken, just because we have turned our pain into pleasure doesn’t mean the word isn’t sensitive for all of us. Outside of the safe confines of the hip-hop community, racism is alive and well. And yes, it is easy to get caught up in other people’s pain. But, if we focus on how we got to this place of genuineness instead of the mud the pigs play in, then we all might be able to get off the plantation.

Russell Simmons

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