A Qualitative Analysis of the History of the N-word and How It Is Used as a Term of Endearment

Amanda Kenny


As African Americans work as a race to progress past slavery, there are still individuals in society that hold on to the mentality. Sadly, there are still a large number of African Americans who think referring to one another by the N-word is acceptable for expressing affection, respect and endearment for one another. No matter how people try to defend their use of the N-word, it still has the same negative connotation it did over a century ago. This paper hypothesizes that it is all right for Blacks to refer to one another as a “Nigga,” but it is not all right if someone outside of the African American race used the term. Due to the growing debate on the use of the N-word, and the acceptance of the word by African Americans over the decades, it is essential that this topic be discussed. The political implications of the use of the N-word as a term of endearment are analyzed qualitatively as being demeaning and vile. The theory that is used in this analysis is the Modernization Theory. The Modernization Theory analyzes the distinction between the word “Nigger” and the term of endearment, “Nigga.” The young generation of African Americans is trying to reclaim the word by modernizing the meaning of the word “Nigger” from being cruel and demeaning to meaning friend or peer. Young African Americans fail to realize that it still has a negative connotation whether it has an “Er” or an “A” at the end of the word. Data were gathered from online sources, books, journals, and autobiographies by using the document analysis technique. These sources were augmented by expert interviews. The data were analyzed to determine whether or not African Americans should allow others to glamorize the word and use it as a term of endearment, and to provide insights on groups such as hip-hop that deconstruct the word and lead people to think it is acceptable to use the word in everyday language.


African Americans, Nigger, Endearment

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