sam jackson django

The word nigger has power.

It throbs with so much hatred and history, that modern society subdues it with quotation marks, abbreviates it in a pathetic attempt to dilute it’s meaning or utters the completely ridiculous “n-word” just to make it palatable for the masses.

Conservative politicians will vilify poor, black Americans as welfare scavengers, but they won’t call them niggers — at least not in public.

We have a Prison Industrial Complex that feeds on Black bodies and is sustained by their labor, but the word nigger is off-limits.

We are a nation that allows young, black boys to be murdered in cold blood by protecting such laws such as ‘Stand Your Ground,’ but the word nigger manages to remain taboo.

It is the “Word That Must Not Be Said,” and when Samuel L. Jackson sat down with film critic, Jake Hamilton, to discuss its usage in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, it quickly became evident that it holds just as much power over white people as it does over the black descendants of slaves who involuntarily clinch when the word sizzles like a hot poker over their consciousness.

Hamilton had a “great” question that he wanted to ask Jackson, but the legendary actor, who plays a Sambo prototype in the film, refused to answer the question unless the stunned Hamilton actually said nigger and not the “n-word,” immediately creating a moment about so much more than a film.


HAMILTON: “There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the usage of, uh, the n-word, in this movie.”

JACKSON: “No? Nobody? None … the word would be…?”

HAMILTON: “I don’t want to say it.”

JACKSON: “Why not?”

HAMILTON: “I don’t like to say it.”

JACKSON: “Have you ever said it?’

HAMILTON: “No, sir.”

JACKSON: “Try it.”

HAMILTON: “I don’t like to say it.”


HAMILTON: “Really, seriously…”

JACKSON: “We’re not going to have this conversation unless you say it.”

[Uncomfortable pause as Hamilton weighs the risk of saying the N-word]

JACKSON: “You want to move on to another question?”

HAMILTON: “OK, awesome!”

[When Jackson laughs at his nervousness, Hamilton reiterates that he doesn't like saying it -- even though he claims to have never said it before.]

HAMILTON: “I don’t like… I don’t want to say it.”

JACKSON: “Oh, come on!”

HAMILTON: “Will you say it?”

JACKSON: “No, f*ck no. That’s not the same thing.”


See entire video below [Samuel L. Jackson segment begins at 13:55]:

Hamilton’s nervousness is striking. In those few minutes, a black man is holding a white man hostage, using his own innate racial insecurities and guilt to back him into a corner and lose control of the interview.

Hamilton claims to not “like” saying the word, but when Jackson asks him has he ever said it, he says “No sir” in a way that calls his honesty into question. It is beyond difficult to imagine that this young man, a Tarantino fan since he was 8-years-old, has never once uttered the word. It would be the same as asking some white, suburbanite kid who is Lil Wayne’s biggest fan, has he ever said the word nigga.

Of course he has — and so has Hamilton.

While he is being applauded for sticking to his principles and not saying the word, I see things a bit differently. He didn’t not say it because of principle, he calculated Jackson’s sincerity before he made a false move that would draw his ire. He looked around, silently asking permission, he even asked him to say it with him, as if all he needed was reassurance that it was acceptable.

His principles did not stop him from saying the word nigger, society did — and that is what Sam Jackson exposed. This nation’s hypocrisy in banning a word, while not banning the hate that produced it.

Quentin Tarantino’s gratuitous use of violence and racist language in his art gives hipster, white America a “pass,” if only for a few hours, to be as ugly and profane as the word nigger.

I have reached out to Hamilton several times to find out what exactly was this “great” question that he had to ask, but he has not responded. Being the thoughtful, intelligent man who I’ve known him to be in other interviews, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it was probably an amazing question, one that would have provided clarity and perspective into Tarantino’s twisted fantasies that are manifested on-screen.

But it wasn’t coming from an authentic place.

As Jackson said, “It wasn’t that great of a question if you can’t say the word.” By containing the word nigger, it gives America permission to ignore the hate that still exists in this country. Yes, it is a violent word for a violent movie, but it is also a trigger that has the potential to murder a long festering hate that would otherwise continue to poison race relations from the inside out.

Saying the “n-word” when speaking candidly about race in America is a cop-out. It happened. Slavery happened. Jim Crow happened. White privilege still exists and erasing the word nigger won’t make that go away. That tug-of-war between Jackson and Hamilton spoke volumes on society’s willingness, in fact, its need to believe that entertainment is an alternate existence where anything goes, instead of an extension or reflection of reality. By Jackson pushing Hamilton to break through society’s self-imposed rule — and Hamilton’s subsequent struggle with propriety — he was answering the question “Why use the word so much in the movie?”

Because it hurts, and it’s uncomfortable, and it’s painful, and it’s real, and it has the power to silence a grown man for fear that he will be thought racist if he says the most dreaded two syllables in America — even if only to discuss a film. And that makes it necessary.

If the word nigger is woven so tightly throughout Django Unchained for historical authenticity, then it should be equally relevant in post-dialogue as the film is deconstructed.

And if we are ever to diminish the stranglehold that the word has over this nation’s psyche, then Jackson’s order to Hamilton is the first step to making that happen.

Say it.



  • Devon

    I know it’s an ugly, disrespectful word tied to a horrible past. But i’m sorry, I refuse to let that word define or have any power over me. I think more of us need to do the same. I also don’t think it’s okay to use it in hip hop. Regardless of the “er” or “ga” ending, the word still means an ignorant person. I don’t consider myself ignorant. So I don’t think we need to refer to ourselves that way.

    It’s funny to me that when people are in a heated situation and they’re intimidated by our intelligence, that’s the first word they like to hurl. Or they like to call us monkeys. To me, it’s super juvenile, and only shows their ignorance. I think we need to flip it on them more and maybe they’ll realize how stupid they sound.

  • Libby

    I found nothing brilliant about it.
    It’s white folks word. They never needed our permission to say it and blk folks who think they do are living in a false state of power.

  • Trinity

    The “N” word, I still don’t care for its usage because of possible ramifications if used by the wrong person. If spoken by the wrong people, regardless with the er or ga, its usage can be taken out of content. I do understand how our young black men will speak the word as a term of endearment similar to the term “my dog” and women speaking “bad b*tch or b*tch”. It signifies a bond of closeness. This is possibly why some people are uncomfortable using the Nword and not so much as the word itself. I agree no words should have control over us, but any derogatory words we speak; I think we should be careful of who or where we say these words.

  • Mademoiselle

    Sorry to all the long time Sam L. Jackson fans, but I’ve never liked the man. I’ve never been a fan of his acting or his personality, and his choice to play Sambo in the movie officially moved my needle from just not liking his acting to being disgusted by him. I’m not amused by this man.

  • Mademoiselle

    The original posting of this article did not include all the text below the video clip, so in response to this new edition, I’ll say that I think it’s wrong to call Hamilton’s sincerity into question. Unless you have evidence of him using a word that makes him uncomfortable (for whatever reason it makes him uncomfortable), how can you say that he’s censoring himself just so he doesn’t appear racist? People (even white people) have consciences, so societal pressure or not, maybe this guy just doesn’t want to offend the black people who would find it ridiculous for him to give into Jackson’s request. I’m personally glad he didn’t. All Jackson managed to do was derail the interview. It didn’t strike me as profound as the author makes it seem. What would it have proven if he had said it? I bet if he did, we’d be reading about Hamilton’s audacity to let interview antics goad him into saying it (just like the Paltrow outrage).

  • THe Comment

    “No, f*ck no. That’s not the same thing.”

    Dude is sooo funing….

  • J.Nicole

    I don’t use the word; I haven’t in over 10 years. There are also a few other words that are offensive that I don’t like; even though I’ve never said them. So how can you be so sure Hamilton has in fact said the word? I happen to like Sam Jackson’s work as an actor as well as his interviews but he knew exactly what he was doing by asking a white man to say that word. And if he did, I have a feeling this post, and any subsequent reports on the interview would rip him to shreds.

    Like I said, it’s been 10 years since I’ve used the word and I’d say only in the last 2 years have I given up trying to make other people do it as well. I have asked people not to use the word around me and that was it. But trying to make a connection that forgoing the word is an attempt to ignore hate still exists or slavery never happened is ridiculous.

  • Sammi Ford

    Can u elaborate on your dislike for his personality? I personally thought his character was well executed, like I can’t even picture anyone else in that role.

  • Tonton Michel

    No there group wants to sit down analysis the derogatory words used against them as a form of therapy. But there is an abundance nuggets among black who do spreading about like a coon version of Johnny Appleseed. You don’t need to say the word to have a conversation on it and race in America. And that punk Sam Jackson knows it.

  • mEE

    In thinking about my own n-word usage and I realize I’ve never once used it as a term of endearment or in any other positive capacity. I’ve only ever used it to express anger or disgust at a person…a black person. and only aloud to myself or when talking to another person. never to the actual person I was calling a “nigga”. hmm…I’m not sure what to make of that

  • Sasha

    My only question/ comment on the video is that Hamilton said they’d have to cut the program if the word was used however Jackson goes on to say f*ck and the program went on interrupted but was likely bleeped out. Wouldn’t that have been the same thing had Hamilton went ahead and said ni__er?

    I don’t use the word for personal reasons but if others want to use it that’s their prerogative.

  • Bump Mediocrity

    Whether you say the word, think the word or act the word it’s all about your own personal morals and standards. I say the word when I need to and could care less about those who play the self-righteous holier than thou card about whether it should be used or not. Yes the word has a ugly history but it don’t make sense to shame others into not using it. That’s wasted energy. Let’s not deny that the word now has many branches; not just one meaning.

    There are white niggers (typically called trash, scum, bottom of the barrel) and there are black niggers (called niggas, thugs, low life’s, ) And its a fact that both can be tasteless and classless.

  • JEN

    I think you missed the point..she called into question his Principles, his morality and the ethical system he abides by. The author questioned whether he chose not to say it because society deemed it unacceptable or because the word was a violation of the principles he maintains.

  • Tonton Michel

    Exactly! Hamilton is made out to be be the bad Guy for not using the N word? Really?? Meanwhile Sam Jackson tarantiono’s numero uno nigger gets a pass on avoiding a serious question. No that can’t stand.

  • Mademoiselle

    On his personality, I’ve personally always felt like he comes across as disingenuous in interviews — like he’s trying to come off as cool, relevant, and in touch, but that it’s all a charade.

    On his role in the movie, it wouldn’t matter who played the part — I would’ve lost a bit of respect for whoever played that role because it was completely unnecessary (it just so happens that I already disliked Jackson, so this just dropped him down into the disgust category). I feel this way because DiCaprio’s character could have easily come to the revelation of what was going on without Jackson (or whoever) playing the shucking and jiving, slapstick, over the top, coonish massah-lover/plantation comic relief character. In my mind, the only thing that was missing was bright red lips, a top hat, and a song for him to sing (especially during the scene when Django rides up to the plantation on a horse and Jackson’s character goes into his wide-eyed “who dat n***** on a howse bowss… wh-wh-whatchu mean he gon’ be sleepin’ in da big house… say wha??” bit), and Jackson and Tarantino would’ve set us back several decades. I believe his character, along with a slew of other scenes in the movie, were specifically added to take the edge off the period of time Tarantino chose as the setting of his film. Getting your audience to laugh at a situation before they get a chance to process what’s in front of them is the easiest way to get them to let their guards down when you want to present them with something that would otherwise strike outrage.

    On his acting in general, I’ve always just been unimpressed with Jackson. Not for any personal reasons — his performances just haven’t been my taste.

    I know my opinion of him and the movie are in the minority, but thanks for asking Sammi.

  • Stacy

    I say it all the time.. i use it for everyone. What up my Nigs? :)

  • steve

    I hope all the people who are crying about Quentin saying the N-word in his movies are not the same ones who swear up and down how much they love the chappelle show or the boondocks . shows which were on network TV , produced and made by black people which also mad it cool for white hipster to say or laugh at the word in their homes

  • Alaina L Lewis

    Hmmmm. I like how Hamilton first says that he’s never “SAID” the word, and then in the next statement he changes it to say he doesn’t like to “SAY” the word.

    How can you not like saying something you’ve allegedly never said?

    Reminds me of people who profess to not liking oral sex (sorry, best example I’ve got) If you’ve never tried it, how can you not like it? Further more, if you’ve never tried it, you would never form your lips (literally) to tell your partner, “I don’t like doing it,” the statement should in fact be “I don’t do it.”

    Hamilton isn’t a virgin to saying the N Word. He’s used it a multitude of times, thus why he giggled like a shy Catholic school girl whose ready to confess that they’ve given more oral exams than a lollipop factory. Who are you fooling?

  • Mademoiselle

    @JEN No, I got the point. What I was saying is it doesn’t matter why he chooses not to say it — it’s an offensive word, so I would hope the man has enough sense not to use it during an interview (same goes for curse words). And since the author doesn’t have transcripts of an instance when Hamilton actually used the word in the past, Jackson’s insistence that he say it wouldn’t have proved anything other than he could make some white guy a target of black angst by getting him to say something that he knows offends black people.

  • Pingback: Nigger is a powerful word … | Reading is the New Black

  • Britni Danielle

    “DiCaprio’s character could have easily come to the revelation of what was going on without Jackson (or whoever) playing the shucking and jiving, slapstick, over the top, coonish massah-lover/plantation comic relief character.”


    That was the point, though. Di Caprio’s character WOULD NOT have come to that conclusion on his own. He wasn’t as smart or cunning as Stephen, who–I’m sure like some slaves–played the “yes massah/no massah” role, but was really smarter than their masters & calling the shots.

  • MimiLuvs

    Your comment reminds me of a certain individual that I know. He purposedly embarrasses, bullies and makes attempts on “exposes the racists” that he encounters. “Coincidentally”, these racists are every white person that he interacts with, including co-workers, friends of family members and even family members.
    Dealing with him is just frustrating…

  • jamesfrmphilly

    jackson was ok by me until i viewed the interview. i felt he was coming off as a pimp. i have no further use for the man.

  • Tonton Michel

    So what nigger? If he used it before or not is irrelevant to the bigger issue that could have been discussed instead. Instead you niggers want to talk about his sincerity in the use of the word. Typical of you niggers.

  • Sasha

    LMFAO oh he’s one of THOSE people. They are the worst, always walking around with a little black raincloud over their heads…

  • jamesfrmphilly

    has jackson used racial slurs on other ethnic groups or just on black people?
    where are the films that slur jews? Italians? why only us?

  • Ashe

    People may say that we give the word too much power but please consider that no other racial group in America has endured as many racist epithets as Black Americans. From sambo to coon to jiggaboo to nigger, we are the only racial group that now answers and uses the epithets that were hurled at us by our oppressors.

    There is a terrible history behind the N-word. And while people may argue that we need to take away the word’s power, please consider that out of all racial groups (aside from Native Americans) we are the least empowered academically, economically and politically. These attempts to desensitize the word and ignore our history, also encourages America and the world’s desensitivity to the needs of our people in the inner cities and ghettos across the globe. That’s exactly why the crime rates in urban areas like Chicago’s South Side are on the rise, our children are failing in schools, we see less policies aimed to improve our communities and countries idly stand by and fail to intervene in the genocides and civil wars occurring through Africa. It is also why we are allowing others to make historical action-jammed fantasies disguised as entertainment about our holocaust that no other racial group would ever allow to be made.

  • Mademoiselle

    @Britni, it’s not about how DiCaprio found out. It’s about the character Jackson had to play just for the plot to get to a point where DiCaprio found out. There was absolutely no focus on the intelligence of Jackson’s character in any part of the movie — his piecing together the truth was his only display of non-comedy. Any of the maids could’ve put 2 and 2 together. The mandingo that gave Django the side eye on the ride up to the plantation could’ve made the connection. Hell, even Jackson could’ve done the figuring out, but what purpose did his shucking and jiving and the whole Sambo shtick serve other than to pacify a mixed audience with laughter?

  • jamesfrmphilly

    thank you.

  • Tonton Michel

    That was well said and I hope people who read this article reads your comment as an appropriate accompanying piece to it. For this I will upgrade you from nigger to nigga, you should be honored.

  • apple

    wish the word didn’t exist

  • Tonton Michel

    You know damn well the answer to that nigger.

  • Ms. Information

    Jews pay Sam, he would NEVER do that.

  • Ms. Information

    The Stockholm syndrome is a psychological state in which the victims of a kidnapping, or persons detained against their free will, develop an emotional attachment, a bond of interdependence with their captors. This is enhanced when the captive is placed in a life-threatening situation and is then spared. The relief that results from the removal of the threat generates intense feelings of gratitude which, combined with the fear, makes the victim reluctant subsequently to cooperate with those seeking to prosecute the oppressor.

    The defining characteristic of Stockholm syndrome is the tendency to react to threatening circumstances not with the usual fight-or-flight response, but by “freezing,” as some animals do by playing dead in order to fool predators. Stockholm syndrome is a position of passivity and acquiescence that works in a similar way as a strategy for survival……

  • jamesfrmphilly

    we ARE sam.

  • P


    Your comment was very eloquently stated. I am nodding my head as if I am in church. I’m glad I had taken the time to read it.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    black people have become masochistic…

  • Tonton Michel

    Wishing ain’t going to get you nowhere nigger gal. Get in the game.

  • Cocochanel31

    Nah I’m good on what the author said. We do not need Caucasians especially in the media, just saying the word willy nilly , interview or not. I respect Hamilton’s decision not to use it publicly..I don’t care what he says at home in the privacy. Coming from a white person its utterly disrespectful and they have gotten away with it for hundreds of years, enough with the madness!

  • Cocochanel31

    To answer Mademoiselle’s question..Sam Jackson’s character was purely satirical , as many characters are in Tarantino’s movie. Tarantion knew exactly what he was doing when he had him “shukcin and jivin” he was playing the stereotypical Uncle Tom “house nigga” ..he just took it to another level as he always does.

    Did you notice how he depicted the Klan members as a bunch of derelict, ignorant, hillbillies?

  • Cocochanel31

    I disagree with the author on the reporter having to use the word. No he didn’t and I was glad he stood his ground. Whether he says it at home or not is irrelevant, we don’t need him saying it on National television for any reason. Still burns me when white interviewers use it to be PC.

  • Rue

    Bing! And, Jackson’s non answer was not brilliant either.

  • MuffyCrosswire

    Yeah that was a good comment.

  • binks

    Boom, this comment said everything. Personally If roles was reversed and I was in Hamilton’s shoes interviewing Jackson I would have given him an epic side eye.

  • Keepitreal

    And there you have it folks, awesome post.

  • Mademoiselle

    @Cocochanel I caught the Klan part too — it’s another part of the movie that I felt was used to pacify the audience. I felt like all the comedy was placed in scenes where the audience would’ve normally been highly uncomfortable about how palpable racial tension would’ve been in a more realistic film, with the only exception being the scene where Kerry Washington was taken out of the hot box, but comedy was replaced with nudity there.

    I can appreciate the satire in the plot/context of the movie, but I still don’t care for a lot of the movie, and Jackson’s part in particular.

  • AM

    LOOOOL!! Stop irr, Tonton!

  • jswindell

    I get where Sam was going with this and though I like him as an actor, it was pointless. Whether the host uses the N-word is not the point and I used to give SLJ a pass because ppl in his generation (and older) have more of an idea of what it is like to be treated like a nigga/er.

    Also, since he grew up in the South, his experiences would contrast that of my Southern California upbringing. Not to say that injustices don’t exist but if people would just think of those ancestors that were vulnerable to whatever was dealt to them, they would re-consider.

    Your boss assaults you. There is no lawyer to call or a mouthpiece like Al Sharpton.
    Your wife is raped. Call PD? File a report? Please.

    While the Catcher Freeman episode of the Boondocks was pretty damn funny, there is a lot more to consider. See, media images play into the minds of other cultures. While this is old news to some, Latinos (particularly those with light hair, skin or eyes) see these and other stereotypes and run with it. Just like there are Whites and Asians that see people and not color, the same applies here but the difference is that getting simple jobs is not like it once was because many major cities are requesting that applicants be bi-lingual more often now than 5 or 10 yrs. ago.

    I’ve got a Latino neighbor now that uses the N-word toward his girls’ darker-skinned children and when he’s watching a game. As much as I hate this $hit, all I can do is keep my head in the books between client projects with hopes that I can go where ppl are better at disguising their hate toward my color or race.

    So to wind down, there’s more to it than a word but a sense of responsibility that is fading away from the community in general.

  • Amanda

    A fool and his soapbox. You being the fool Tonton. Typical of fools, I suppose.

  • GlowBelle

    GREAT comment! Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s all about stopping the blame game and looking at ourselves in the mirror…

  • GlowBelle

    Funny, I just thought of the scene in Spike Lee’s ‘School Daze’ when Sam Jackson’s character calls Laurence Fishburne’s character and friends the n-word, and Laurence corrects him…if only we had more scenes like that in movies today.

    Anyways, though I see what Sam Jackson was trying to do, but bullying someone to say the word doesn’t cure anything to me. Makes for a great sound byte to get an article written, but doesn’t bring anything to the table, just makes it messier. I like Sam Jackson, but I think he avoided the situation entirely and I can’t make the interviewer look like the bad guy simply because he’s white and might have allegedly used the word previously. What person hasn’t said a racial slur in their lifetime? If you say you haven’t, let me watch your nose grow…. I’m actually sort of glad the reporter didn’t dive into it and indulge SLJ. Racism can be discussed without usage of the word, even that movie could have been discussed without it no matter how many times the word was flung around in it. We as a people are (and can be) more intelligent than that. Plus context and tone is what gives slur words their power — how and when someone says it makes every single bit of difference.

    Even though I don’t like the word, I really try not to be hyper-sensitive about it and not let the word define me. Plus I can’t stop every single person from saying it, rap lyrics from spewing it, comedians and movies from using it, I am just one person battling against scars of the past and centuries of that word being carelessly tossed around and all I can do is not forget history, but try to progress above it.

  • Tonton Michel

    Look here amandy, I don’t want none of your nigger lip or it’s the hot box for you! You hear me gal?! And that goes for the rest of you niggers who are thumbs downing me, I got hot boxes for all of you! Hot. Boxes!

  • The Artist

    Totally not a fan of the N-word, but I love the point the author makes. As soon as the N-word is mentioned people hide for cover, yet it’s ok to display racial hatred in more subtle ways just as long as the N-word is avoided. These low key racists are something else.

    Btw, Kristen I love your articles :)

  • Dave

    Louis C.K. has already brilliantly explored this topic in one of his stand-ups where he criticizes the use of the phrase “the N-word” by white people as a cheap way of putting the word “nigger” into everyone’s head without actually saying it:

  • MommieDearest


    This is one of the most sensible comments I’ve read on this site in a long time.

    Thank you.

  • Shelly

    LOL…TonTon is killin me softly.

  • tyson

    I applaud Sam Jackson for holding his feet to the fire. In this situation everyone knows that he wouldn’t have been using it in a hateful way, but if you want my true take on the use of the word, use the word don’t mask it unless you want a masked answer. Let’s have open dialect about a very serious term. And yes I understand what the N word stands for it pops in myb head when you say n word but say the word and ill speak honestly with you about it.

  • OhHellNo

    I’m sorry, did you say you want to go where people are better at disguising their hate?! THAT IS THE WORST THING THAT YOU CAN D!!. Give me the white person that wears his/her hate on their sleeve any day, because the person who is good at disguising it will kill you silently. Know your enemy boo, otherwise you’ll think that YOU are the problem.

  • cabugs

    ….SMH is “a white boy from Texas”? Interesting. I now have a location and some context to your comments.
    I don’t mean this in any negative way, by the way. I’m just saying.

  • I got sense!

    And boy do white guys LOVE those two shows. I was very surprised!

  • naan

    you all really reaching about the technicality of the phrase “I do not like to use the word”.

    I don’t like to call my momma “b*tch”, “wh*re”, “c*nt”, etc and neither do I have to actually refer to her as that at least once to know that I don’t like it.

    And it’s not cool for you to use racial slurs either.

  • Ravi

    Are you suggesting that a person can’t know that they don’t like something if they have never tried it? Ever shoot yourself in the leg? What, you don’t like getting shot in the leg? How do you know if you never tried it?

  • http://hardwick kj

    I’m just wondering which N word is truthfully more offensive to be called; ni99a/ni99er OR necrophiliac? Being called FAT, Obese, slow, worthless, ‘fired’…all those words would harm me far more than EITHER N word…know why? Because…neither N word applies to me or my situation…words are hurtful when they’re extremely close to your personal truth.

  • oops

    White boy,

    What pray tell are you doing on a black woman’s board?

  • TT

    And the black people who think they’ve turned the word around to mean something good also have a false sense of power. If white folks don’t say it in front of your face, they’re saying it behind your back.

  • nattynay

    My take on the N-word:

    Historically, it has always been a derogatory term referring to African-Americans or black people in general, still is today that’s why there’s so much issue with non-blacks saying it.

    -Being that it’s an insult to black people we use it amongst ourselves, then get mad when others use it? That’s like saying: “Ya’ll can’t call us dumb-asses, only we can call each other that!”

    -I believe that it should’ve died with slavery, but hey “freedom of speech” right?

    -If you want to refer to me as a friend, there are plenty other words in the English language to refer to me as such.

    -”Nigger” and “nigga” are the same word, different accent. That’s like saying “sugar” and “suga” are different(is one sweeter than the other?)

    -If many of us took out the energy we put in spinning a negative into a positive with the N-word, and do that with our own lives I’d think we’d be better off.

    After all you don’t hear other races greeting each other with racially derogatory terms…And so what if they do, do we have to partake in the same actions as others ?

    *Agree to Disagree

  • MommieDearest


  • LyminMiike

    Historically and always cancel each other out. The etymology of nigger is not as simple as you would proffer. English is a relatively young language and if you research the roots of the word, a much more sinister and diabolical history awaits.

    Start with Amharic term negus.

  • cabugs

    Oh I see how I read that the wrong way. Thanks for the clarification.

  • Tasha Forrest

    “In this situation everyone knows that he wouldn’t have been using it in a hateful way, but if you want my true take on the use of the word, use the word don’t mask it unless you want a masked answer. Let’s have open dialect about a very serious term. And yes I understand what the N word stands for it pops in myb head when you say n word but say the word and ill speak honestly with you about it.”

    I agree. I think that your comment was along lines of SLJ’s point. Many in attempt to desensitize “that word”, by embracing the uses, their giving off a false positive.

  • HelluvaEngineer

    @Mademoiselle, I think the scene where Samuel’s character effectively breaks the situation down to Barney-level to Mr. Candie, finishing with a smug, “Why thank you, Stephen. You’re quite welcome, Calvin,” and a sip of wine disproves your point. In real life, in those times, that would never have happened. Stephen would have been whipped, or killed, or simply sold to another plantation for being so insubordinate. You think after how those people reacted seeing a black man on a horse, they’d be OK with a slave sitting in a recliner, sippin’ dessert wine and being sarcastic? Not even.

    It seemed to me that Samuel’s character “shucked and jived” to make his master feel at ease, but he really ran the house and they both knew it. I think Samuel played the part with dignity as well as humor, which is his job. I don’t see how that particular character was demeaning, especially after you observed that Mr. Candy was Stephen’s foil. The two characters existed in that manner to highlight each other’s differences and develop the plot.

    Also, semi-inappropriate comedy is one of Quentin Tarantino’s trademarks and has been since Pulp Fiction. Have you also lost respect for Jonah Hill for donning a white mask in the film?

    It was satire and it was excellent. The end.

  • TT

    Completely agree. Nigger and nigga are exactly the same. Just because you replace the er with an a doesn’t change the meaning. But unfortunately black people will continue to use the word because it gives them a false sense of power. I don’t use the word because I find it offensive and that’s not what I grew up around. But my half brothers and sister use it because we grew up in different environments. Black people have not made the word positive because it’s still offensive if other races use it.

  • Anthony

    I think the n-word is profanity, and I am glad that it is finally treated like other profane words are treated on network television and broadcast radio. That said, I don’t lose my mind over profanity, and I don’t freak out when I hear it either. I grew up in the South and I am old enough to know the time when white people called black people that word to our faces. Getting called a nigger to me is no more than being called an asshole or a motherfucker. It is word designed to hurt someone, no more no more less. To me the best way to take power from a word is to acknowledge it. The n-word is a word designed to make you feel bad for being black. The best thing to say is that I am black, so what? I am proud of my blackness, calling me black is just stating a fact, and a fact does not hurt my feelings. Similarly, as a heavy person, I refuse to let an accurate descriptor like “fat” hurt my feelings either. Acting like you are ashamed of what you are is what gives a word power.

  • B

    I agree one thousand percent with your response. There are several words which mean what it means no matter how people try to sugarcoat it. Nigger means nigger, no matter how it is misspelled. Once black people who use the word religiously get that, then it will become easier to remove the mental shackles.

  • msbklyn

    Whether it is said or not it won’t erase the racism in this country, or condemn the injustice that exist today. I know that white people have not forgotten the history of this country. They just want us to get over it and stop making them feel guilty. When they had the freedom to say it,we were slaves and inferior beings that they could openly disgrace without penalty. Now that it’s taboo for them to say, the ideology has not changed. Only the tactic. This is bigger than allowing the freedom of the n-word to be spoken.

    side note: didn’t sam l jackson remind you of uncle ruckus lol

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  • LuvLife289

    You gotta watch Tarontino films a couple of times to understand it. The library scene showed Stephen as Candi’s equal. Its quite interesting. Also the end when he dropped his cane. Anybody notice that? Reminded me of “Unusual Suspects” :-)

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  • LuvLife289

    Calm Down Toto!

  • thesupersistah

    The word has too much history to ever be innocuous.Too much hatred imbedded to ever be innocent. Too much pain ingrained to be without power. Too much blood on its syllables to throw around carelessly. No amount of permission or passes can erase 500+ years of its sting.

    the Super Sistah
    author of Don’t Let The White Girl Win

  • Mademoiselle

    @HelluvaEngineer Every time I hear someone say “it was just satire,” it takes me back to the boys in my middle school class that would say things like “boy, I know I couldn’t have been a slave ’cause I would’ve killed those c******s if they ever put a hand on me,” not realizing how much the very thought that they would’ve somehow been able to do what millions of slaves couldn’t trivializes what all those human beings went through. It’s as if telling me the movie was just poking fun at the time is supposed to mean something more to me because it’s called satire.

    What purpose does satirizing slavery serve? What’s the point behind a rom-com western slave story? If it’s satire, what’s the take-away at the end of the story? Who do you think the butt of the joke is — the handful of white people some fictional vigilante slave shot up or the millions of slaves that lived the reality of something like that never being possible to actually happen? Tarantino imagined a funnier rendition of slavery where some slave’s love for his wife landed him the good fortune of a white man giving him the ammo to enact revenge, and what, we’re laughing at the idiocy of white people a century and a half after the truth? I guess that’s because the slaves were so smart, if they had just had access to a few guns, they “would’ve killed those c******s.”

    Tarantino managed to make a feel good movie out of one of the most deplorable times in human history, and people keep throwing around “it was satire” as if that’s supposed to bring me over the fence to sing its praises. I’m aware that there are way more people that enjoyed it than there are people who see my point, but “it was just satire” does nothing for me, just like the movie. What you call excellence, I call something much more derogatory.

  • YouHave2Wonder

    So you’re “fat, obese, slow [and] worthless”? As you stated, only terms that are relevant are hurtful. Than you’re right, you may have bigger problems than being called outside of your name for the purpose of humiliation and demeaning your being. Would you be okay with someone at your employment saying “Hey Ni99er come here”?

  • Penny

    Barbara Walters seemed to have no problem saying it and she still has a show. LOL. SMH. People acted like Sherri Shepherd was crazy for being offended, but she had every right to her feelings. There’s a difference between when Whoopi says it and when Barbara says it.

    I’m glad the interviewer didn’t say it. I don’t really care whether or not he’s ever said the word; I am just glad that he chose to be respectful in that situation. While I understand how Samuel Jackson feels, I think he went a bit too far with this. It’s not worth it. And the irony is that a word that has historically victimized millions of black people has in that instance victimized a white person who CHOSE NOT TO SAY IT! LOL.

  • MrsMadsen

    Like someone already commented, the saddest part is that some African americans call each other so,. am just wondering if you find it offensive when other people use the word on you, then why the double standards? its like saying i dont mind my mother calling me stupid, but i mind when other people do so….it doesnt change the meaning of the word.
    But the most silliest thing is when Africans in Africa (especially men) refer each other as niggers, thinking it makes them cool…..thats the dumbest thing i have ever heard!!

  • randy sydnor

    Give me a break Nigger please

  • ruggie

    I’m not sure if we should be opening the Pandora’s box of inviting white people to say nigger…

  • maults1

    So now, Let me get this straight. I’m a “Black” man, or as we sometime say “African American”,born and raised in America, the deep south, properly educated in our American educational system, survived jim crow, segregation, discrimination and the civil rights movement, served proudly and faithfully and discharged honorably in the United States military, gainfully employed for years, paid taxes, purchased homes and raised a family, and yet, I’m supposed to get upset and react physically and maybe even violently just because someone who knows absolutely nothing about me, utters a word which is a poor derivitive of a spanish word (negro) which in proper English translation means “BLACK”. Nigga Please! This “word” has no more power than we give it and should be considered in the same catagory as those other so-called derogatory or insulting word such aswet back, cracker, redneck and then there’s my favorite, “Redskin”. Come On Ya’ll!

  • Me

    But why are you trolling?

  • Joseph

    I have to correct you, there is a long standing debate on the origin of the “N” word. Some believe it has origins from the French language, other say Spanish. There is a word/name “Negar” which originates from Europe. In the Persian language Negar is the name of a baby girl. “Nigger” does not derive from Negro.

  • NunyaDB

    Actually, it does. Your correction needs correction.

  • Sapphire

    But when asked why, would you say, “I don’t like to shoot myself in the leg” or “I refuse to shoot myself in the leg because…[it is stupid, it is in poor taste, etc”?

  • Sapphire

    I agree with a lot of the comments and the fact that the racial epithet (and all [racial] slurs in general) are in poor taste, but I thought the author’s intent was to shed light upon the fact that making the word “taboo” does not address the hatred, negativity, viciousness, etc behind the word. Focusing so heavily on the word and it’s usage draws attention away from the root of it’s usage, why it is used, etc. And just because a person doesn’t use the word, does that mean that he/she is not racist?

    I think, in a more direct sense, fear or unwillingness to discuss the word–on both sides–shows an unwillingness to discuss race issues and racism in America. By not discussing race issues/race, we pretend as though they doesn’t exist—just like by not saying “certain words”, we pretend that the climate that originated them no longer exists. Perhaps if we instead address the history, hatred, racism, etc head-on, people will no longer feel the need to use the word, place so much emphasis upon it, or attempt to “desensitize” it.

    Very interesting article. Very interesting debate it has sparked in the comment section.

  • Sapphire

    I think the author was taking issue with the fact that he was no resolute in his decision to not use the word. Had he stood his ground and defiantly declared, “NO. I will not use that word. It is in poor taste. But that does not mean that we can not have a valid discussion concerning its use in the film…” that would have been an entirely different scenario.

    If someone told you to rape and kill a child standing in front of you, would you hesitate? Think it over? Look around hesitantly? Ask them if they’ll do it and then decide not to?

    I’d hope that you’d quickly and resolutely decide NOT to murder and molest a child because it is wrong and goes against your beliefs etc. Not that you’d decide not to because you’re on television.

    So the author is asking, does the fact that he chose not to say the word on TV really change the fact that he would use it when not in ear-shot? No. So if people are comfortable, as a whole, using the word in familiar settings, then why such an uproar when its put on a large screen? Shouldn’t the issue be that they’re using the word in the first place?–not that its on a screen?

  • Hue

    Had I been in Hamilton’s shoes, I would have said, “F**k you, Sam, just anser the f**king question.” Sam would have respected that, depending on how u said it.

  • Sapphire

    “So to wind down, there’s more to it than a word but a sense of responsibility that is fading away from the community in general.”

    This is the nugget that was missed.

    It’s less about the word. More about everything surrounding it.

    Another nugget:
    “Slavery happened. Jim Crow happened. White privilege still exists and erasing the word nigger won’t make that go away.”

    And yet another:
    “That tug-of-war between Jackson and Hamilton spoke volumes on society’s willingness, in fact, its need to believe that entertainment is an alternate existence where anything goes, instead of an extension or reflection of reality.”

    I like Tarantino. I like his films. I saw what he was doing/going for…but ultimately, the film makes light of slavery. And I didn’t see prisoners laughing with tongue-in-cheek dialogue in concentration camps or a single Jewish slur in “Inglorious Basterds”.

    Learn to see the forest for the trees.

    I’m just saying.

  • Ravi


    If someone were to ask me why I didn’t want to shoot myself in the leg I don’t like getting shot in the leg. I wouldn’t get into it being in poor taste. Poor taste would be the least of my concerns when it comes to getting shot.

    Not sure what your point was, but my point remains that you don’t need to do something to know you don’t like it. It doesn’t follow that he must have tried it out because he said he didn’t like it. Most everyone can determine they don’t like stuff without actually doing it first.

  • William Stewart

    As with many words it is how the word is used. If said out of anger or hatred I will get in that ass. Not for me but for my ancestors that had to grin and bear it.

  • sealinewuman

    Debated by whom?

    It wouldn’t matter if the word is a variant of Negro (Spanish/Portuguese), Noir (French), Nero (Italian) or Negru (Romanian) as all those languages are romance languages and share the same root word for black which is the Latin Niger.

    The word Negaar in Farsi, Urdu, Anatoli and it’s variations on the Indo-Iranian language branch, generally mean picturesque, beautiful, or generally having anything to do with something pleasing to look at.

    All the Indo-Iranian lanugages are a branch off of the Indo-European family tree, and Spanish, while firmly ensconced within the Romance language family, also inexplicably lies on the Indo-European line because of Basque and Arabic influence (and it gets even more frikkin complicated). So some overlap in morphology (if not phonetics, semantics or pragmatics) is not unexpected.

    I’ve yet to come across any linguistic debate as to the origin of the the N word, and believe me I’ve sat through enough boring ass linguistic seminars to want to shoot myself, it’s generally accepted as a bastardisation of Negro. Also when you take into account that the Portuguese were the most heavily involved in the slave trade and that the word means black, well, Occam’s Razor and all that.

  • Theron Worth Chung

    its unfortunate that you will never understand the meaning that young “AMERICANS” give the word when they/we use it among-st one another, but the real pity is that you somehow think that you can pass judgement. it apparently tugs at something that leaves you unsettled, by reminding society of the ugliest blemish in american history, young americans choose not to hide it to make those that benefit from its roots more comfortable and more affirmed that things have changed. so perhaps its not as simple as you’re trying to make it and “maybe you should give us niggas more credit”

  • Memoria

    Just White people? And did you read the article thoughtfully? If you had, you wouldn’t have made this comment.

  • Darryl Quinton Evans

    The word nigger bothers me because despite what some people think there are still places and people who use it to hurt others. I don’t like any names and words that are derogatory to anyone for any reason. If someone calls my mother a nigger Im going to be pissed! If they called her a bitch or any other profanity it would bother me the same. My mother is not any of those things but I hold her in high regard and want to make sure that others do the same. Not to mention where ever you think the word came from it became a word used with a soul purpose to hurt. I cant imagine anything that was ever used as a way to hurt will become a way to unite to greet and to show love. For me there will never be anytime that I will use this word for me it needs to be buried.

  • Akil Eshu Anansi

    Why you gotta hyphenate it? Why can’t you just say ‘Americans’? This is exactly why the word ‘nigger’ exists. To remind self righteous ‘white folk like yuhself, that us niggers is still here, and we’s still waitin on massa to treat us equally.’ Also, the ‘most silliest thing’ is a double superlative. Learn to speak English, nigger. ;)

  • ruggie

    Jake Hamilton is a white film critic. Sam Jackson invited – demanded – him to say nigger. Now when the Jake Hamilton in your life (a co worker, etc) says nigger to you, you might have a problem with that. You should.

  • Toshi

    You left out words like spick and faggot! Lets use ALL those words……they have no power right? Wrong. These words are painful and hurtful! Why can’t we move forward and leave these words in the past. Just like in the bible god said to Lot do NOT look back! Lets stop looking back and keep looking ahead.

  • Playwitit

    Not to nitpick here (ok maybe I am nitpicking) but you are fooling yourself if you think other races don’t call themselves/each other derogatory terms. Maybe you don’t hear it because you aren’t paying attention but its happening so don’t kid yourself.

  • karenmm2

    absolutely brilliant article.

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