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The Washington Post is currently running a comprehensive interactive about the "n-word." Titled "Redefining the Word," the feature gives an historical context for why nigga is entrenched in our culture and interviews dozens of people for their thoughts and feelings about the word today.

They didn't interview me. But, if they did, this is what I would have said:

From "Why I'll Never Stop Saying Nigga"

I love words. I love the way they sound. I love the way they look. I love learning what they mean. I love how different pronunciations—a stressed vowel sound or a pronounced vocal inflection—can give the same word multiple meanings. I love their rhythm. I love their personality. I love their etymology. And, most importantly, I love the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of them at my disposal when trying to get what’s in my head outside of it. Included in that hundreds of thousands are nigger, nigga, cunt, fuck, bitch and every other word where the word alone is enough to offend, and I love and respect language too much to permanently cut any of it out.

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Interestingly enough, my knowledge of and affinity for words could be an argument for not using some of them. Since there are hundreds of thousands of them—and since I seem to be very aware of this fact—why use one I know will offend when another will suffice?

That’s the thing. Knowing exactly what words mean and exactly how you want to use them means that, in some instances, another word won’t suffice. Sure, “man,” “dog,” “cat,” “dude,” “my man,” and even “ninja” exist and work, sometimes. Most times, even. But, there are other times when only nigga can accurately convey the feeling or thought I want expressed. And, in those instances, nigga is used.

This knowledge also comes with the realization that certain words probably shouldn’t be used unless you’re completely aware of the audience. Nigga is one of those words. Not only will I not use it around “mixed” company, I won’t even use it around Black people I’m not familiar with. This isn’t self-censoring as much as it’s just being considerate. (Who said niggas don’t have feelings?)

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Ironically, I don’t even say nigga that much. Aside from when I’m joking with my wife or my friends or repeating lyrics from a song, I rarely say it aloud. Same goes for pretty much every other word on the “do not say” list. If nigga was a condiment, it would be Dijon mustard.

Also, I'm very aware of the anti-nigga argument that claims its continued use is disrespectful to our ancestors. I just disagree. Wanting to completely remove a word from our cultural lexicon isn't "honoring the past" as much as it's window dressing. An empty gesture whose only benefit is aesthetic. Choosing to ban the word from your own mouth is fine. Insisting that we all have an obligation to do the same thing — that we all need to assess a 500-year-long context and all come to the exact same conclusion about this complicated word — is not.