In the 21st century, the American concept of race finds itself more nuanced than ever before. African-Americans are not excluded from this phenomenon: on the contrary, they may experience the brunt of race’s complexity. This study seeks to explore that complexity through the lens of the Black community’s adoption or rejection of the racial epithet, nigger. The seminal Africana Studies methodologies of Afrocentricity and Critical Race Theory perform the foundational work for this study, while its historical and contemporary data is supported by historical method and qualitative interviews. While much academic study has been performed concerning the relationships African-Americans share with other racial groups, scholars have only recently begun to examine the internal relationships within the Black community.

After performing a historical overview of the word nigger’s role in American racism and its subsequent presence in the Black lexicon, this study will conduct an examination of African-Americans’ positions, perceptions, and reflections on the word’s in-group use. This will all seek to evidence the complex historical moment and situation in which African-Americans find themselves reasoning out the relationships they have with one another and their national community.


N’Diaye, Boubacar


Africana Studies


African American Studies | American Popular Culture | Anthropological Linguistics and Sociolinguistics | Communication | Critical and Cultural Studies | Linguistics | Race and Ethnicity | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Sociology | Sociology of Culture


nigger, nigga, the n word, racism, African-American, epithet, racial slur, ethnolinguistics, hip-hop, comedy

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2014 LaTricia Mitchell