I was wasting brain cells yesterday: watching the VH1 show, "Basketball Wives" when I noticed that Gloria Govan had used the n-word when referring to Matt Barnes. Gloria and Matt both appear to be part African-American but it was still shocking for me to hear her use that word because I find the word ugly.
The debate that Blacks have the right to use that word is logical, but I would caution against doing so. Blacks have had a history of using reverse meaning: Micheal Jackson's "bad", in fact, meant good. The profane slang, "I'm the s**t" is another example. This is something that is studied in the field of social linguistics. The N-word was used to degrade African-Americans and Tupac created an acronym--spelled differently and ending with an "a" Never Ignorant Getting Goal Accomplished. Tupac wanted to take the word and use it as a term of endearment: "that's my n***a".
This still cannot justify why one of the most popular people on youtube is named "niga high," he appears to be of Asian descent or why Kanye West--who seems to be unable to escape from any form of controversy--would ask a predominately White audience to use the N-word at one of his concerts. I think it is an ugly word and not everyone appreciates hearing it-- from a Black person's use of it, to any and every other race using it.
Some foreigners may hear the use of the word and believe it is not offensive and applicable to all Blacks. The word's racist origin and the hatred associated with the word is too powerful for some. Surprisingly, rappers and other artists do not have the poetic licensure to use the word White.
White has a legacy of being good, pure, and beautiful. The Japanese word for white means both clean and pretty. However, in a song by Kanye West, entitled, "All Falls Down," MTV and youtube will not allow Kanye to say, "a White man get[s] paid off of all of that" or Rage Against the Machine to say, "by wearing the badge they're the chosen Whites'" in "Killing in the Name," which I believe was written about the LA police department but is a recurring theme in history.
The movie, "J. Edgar Hoover" and the counter-intelligence program (cointelpro) should demonstrate the abuse of power and how government officials--who could only be White at that time-- were active participants in the KKK and openly racist. This, of course, is not true of all people and ideologies at the time, but in the aforementioned songs, that is what I believe the artists were communicating to their audience.
If a word has ever been offensive, there are chances that it remains offensive and I choose to be safe rather than sorry (abuse of idioms as usual).