‘Disrespectful’ and More Things White People Say When They Really Want to Call Black People the N-Word but Can’t

Fox News screenshot
Fox News screenshot

Like the devil—who I’ve heard is a 3-handicap golfer and makes a killer sangria—Donald Trump is not without his good qualities. He’s a great, Zoolander-level squinter. Perhaps one of the world’s all-time great squinters. He’s apparently amazing at purchasing and eating KFC. It’s not a game with Trump’s Chicken Littles combo-eating game. When Donald Trump walks into a room, potato wedges piss their pants and get hives. And I’m certain he’s awesome at Jenga. Because if he can stack and erect piles of bullshit as high as he does, Jenga towers are light work.

His greatest talent, however, is dog-whistling. From “Make America great again” to his petty preoccupation with reversing literally everything President Barack Obama did, no one in recent memory has been better at tailoring their actions and communications to convey a very specific point to a very specific group of people.

To wit, take a look at his recent tweets admonishing Marshawn Lynch and LaVar Ball.


The existence of these tweets is a dog whistle in itself. A white person in power publicly admonishing uppity blacks is chum to Trump’s base (and by “Trump’s base” I mean “America”), and these tweeting sprees are feeding sessions.


The language here matters, too—specifically the idea of disrespect and the lack of proper reverence for Trump’s big white benevolence. What he is saying is that these black people need to be grateful for what they have—and what he’s specifically given them—but since they’re very obviously not, they need to be reminded, publicly and vehemently, of their place and position. Basically, let’s not forget—and let’s not allow them to forget—that they’re niggers.

The “disrespectful black” employed as a stand-in for “nigger” isn’t new. It stretches back as far as the invention of the nigger does. The nigger was created to hierarchize and to justify subjugation. And when one of us dared step out of line or question this status, we were ungrateful niggers without the moral or intellectual acuity to recognize how appreciative we should be. Now, since “nigger” is no longer allowed in polite society, a reference to that damning lack of perpetual genuflection articulates that same point.


“They already get so many things for free,” they’re wont to say, “so why are they protesting and not on their knees in thanks?”

This, of course, is just one of the many terms shoehorned into the American lexicon now to describe and communicate and distinguish the nigger without actually saying that word. Because of course saying that would be racist. And racism is wrong.


We all know about “thug,” which has been such an obvious dog whistle for so long that the word itself is (rightly) seen as a slur. It officially transcended the dog whistle. Which I guess would make it a ... ghost whistle?

Then there’s any out-of-context reference to Chicago, which is such an absurd “nigger” stand-in when you remember that it’s a fucking city. A city where whites are still the largest racial demographic. Chicago as a nigger stand-in is like, I don’t know, if white people started calling us “Kia Cadenzas.”


But as odd as Chicago is, I’m not quite sure if it beats the surreality of allusions to the government. The federal government particularly. I forgot exactly where I first read or heard it, but along with the fact that many whites believe that we (niggers) are disproportionally supported by the government—an assistance we don’t deserve—a not-insignificant-at-all part of the white distaste for the federal government is that so many of us (niggers) have government jobs.

So when they’re pushing to limit the size and scope of Washington, D.C., and bureaucracies, they’re ultimately pushing for niggers to have less (perceived) cushion and less income. Do they not realize that niggers/niggas hate the Man, too?


Of course, there are more nigger stand-ins. Socialist. Muslim. In sports, undisciplined is a nigger stand-in fav. And there will continue to be more, as they’ll continue to be forced to be more and more creative when some of these terms transcend the dog whistle.

Basically, if you’re black, don’t be surprised if, the next time you happen to offend a white person, she has that “I really want to say ‘nigger’” look on her face, but she calls you a Kia Cadenza instead.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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Or instead of calling you nigger they will tell about all their black friends and how they don’t see color and how they loved Get Out. Again I’ve about had my fill of white people for the next 12 years since these last 12 months have been exhausting