(Y)our N-Word

(Y)our N-Word2016-11-29T17:39:09-05:00

Project Description

(Y)our N-Word

By Robin Boylorn | Originally Published at The Crunk Feminist Collective (CFC). November 12, 2015

Nobody called me a nigga to my face

But 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 Boylorn is Assistant Professor of Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication at The University of Alabama. She received her Ph.D. from University of South Florida in 2009. She teaches and writes about issues of social identity and diversity but her primary research interests focus on the lived and storied experiences of blackgirls and women.

Professor Boylorn is a critical auto/ethnographer who writes evocative scholarship and personal narrative in an effort to make her work accessible to a wide audience. She is the author of the award-winning monograph Sweetwater: Black Women and Narratives of Resilience (Peter Lang, 2013), and co-editor of Critical Autoethnography: Intersecting Cultural Identities in Everyday Life (Left Coast Press, 2014).

She enjoys old school hip hop, poetry, soul food, and stories by/about black women. Her favorite things include organic soap, scented candles and earth tones. To unwind she crochets blankets and watches sports, sometimes simultaneously.

FMI on Robin M. Boylorn’s work and words check out her website, www.robinboylorn.com

This piece was reprinted by EmpathyEducates with permission or license. We thank the Poet and Author, Professor Robin M. Boylorn for her kindness and vision. We are grateful for the open and honest sharing of wisdom.