(Y)our N-Word

By: Dr. Robin Boylorn


Nobody called me a nigga to my faceBut behind backs and closed doors

I am sure I have been called every kind of n-word

Especially when

I excelled in systems designed for me to fail
Or called out bigotry and privilege in classrooms
Or won awards white folk swore were theirs and I musta stole over some affirmative action shit
Spoken (back) at me because I have the audacity
To listen to and memorize hip hop histories where
Was somewhat of an anthem
Like, Jig-ga
2pac’s 4 My Niggas
Or DMX asking
Where all my niggas at?
Cause it was overheard when he said or she said,
please, when it was offered between me and another nigga
Reclaiming a word in affection that was created in hate
With folk claiming,
Oh, doesn’t nigga just mean friend
Never has
If you ain’t black
I was just singing along with the song
Or, “I didn’t mean nothing by it,
Even though I scribbled it on sidewalks in chalk
Or on white walls in shit
Or on posters about your first black president
Or in blogs, boardrooms and bedrooms
Every time you do something I don’t like
Even though I use it to cut you down
To piss you off
To remind you that you ain’t shit to me
You shouldn’t take it personally


I mean, don’t be so damn sensitive
Nobody has called me a nigga to my face
But if it has ever crossed your mind
If not your lips
Or, if you have ever listened to someone call me a nigga
& not flinched
& not told me
Or stood up for me
You are equally
in the racialized terror of black bodies


There will never be a moment when being called or referred to as a nigga by a white person is not a dehumanizing threat to a person of color. I’m not now, nor have I ever been, (y)our nigga.
In solidarity with MU #ConcernedStudent1950 #blacklivesmatter #blackoncampus #WeareallMizzou

Robin M. Boylorn, Ph.D., ​earned her doctorate in 2009 from University of South Florida. Currently she is Assistant Professor of Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication at the University of Alabama where she teaches and writes about issues of social identity and diversity, focusing primarily on the lived experiences of black women.
Dr. Boylorn’s work concentrates on ways of documenting marginalized lives and making them accessible and available to wide audiences. She seeks to give voice to silenced experiences and offer strategies for talking about and across difference (in its many manifestations).

***Originally posted to The Crunk Feminist Collective.***


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