Prison Radio
Joadanus Olivas

Joadanus Olivas, “My Ghetto Thesis On The Word Nigga.”

There’s much controversy over the word “nigga.” As a black youth myself, I’m more than familiar with this word. Those from black conscious groups argue that the work should be done away with completely not only because of its derogatory meaning but because this was the last word many of our ancestors heard before getting killed by lynching.

So many have adopted this word and now it sounds normal even coming from the mouth of someone who was far from black. Rap music refuses to remove this word from its vocabulary. Some such- some such as Tupac Amaru Shakur even reversed the denigration by turning it into an acronym: Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished.

I’ve come to understand that there are many different variations of this word meaning-wise. Some emphasis on the word and you automatically know it’s a danger like, nigga? Others show that it’s peace like, my nigga! Some shows ignorance, race in a good way. And everyone knows if you pronounce the -er on the end, then it’s war. That’s a no no, unless you’re black yourself.

So where did this word originate? According to my studies, I’ve come to the conclusion that it was derived from the Greek “necro” phonetically and “necro” means dead corpse. Others, especially that are black conscious, argue and say the word means ignorant or stupid. The Greek “necro,” meaning death, inspires the Nation of Islam to explain that black man was in a death state and for Muhammad came to revive him similar to Hiram Abiff, the Masonic paradigm with the master script. This was something Farrakhan spoke of during the Million Man March in D.C.

How could we remove a word from the vocabulary of everyday youth that has made this their culture? They’re willing to die to be a real nigga where I’m from, and please don’t mess with none of their niggas, but I still know older gorillas that will lash out if you call them this word, especially being of another race. Some races in prison will discipline their own kind if they use this word openly.

But I see that everyone wants to relate to this word. Every inner-city youth wants you to know that they come from nothing, they suffered in the most wanted and most hated, but yet the most envy. Some white young kid right now, I imagine, said nigga for the first time, and it felt so good. They watch hip-hop and imagine what would it be like to be a nigga?

This is so taboo. That’s why it’s exciting: something that has been forbidden their whole life. Now they get to experience it, wow. The rush it brings. Am I a nigga? No doubt. I’ve always wanted to be that nigga, a real nigga. It’s so much power behind this. Why destroy it? It took almost 500 years of slavery to make this nigga right here.

“Nigga” is a battle scar they will never forget. My elders listen to this right now and are disappointed of me because of how much I’ve studied. But the species to survive is the one that adapts to change. So if Tupac Amaru Shakur said: I’m never ignorant; I’m getting goals accomplished. What about you, my nigga?