--Tupac Shakur's distinction between "Nigger" and "Nigga," as cited by Wikipedia, the free online dictionary.
I CRINGE when I hear black folks use the term "nigga" in the presence of white people. I cringe because I know that by hearing black folks openly use and accept that word, white folks will think it is okay for them to use it. However, I will admit that I too have been guilty of using this word, but only in the comfort of my friends (not all black people -- just my friends). Does it make it any better to use the term "nigga" when white folks are not around, or does it make me -- and others like me -- hypocrites?
Whenever I use the word, I am usually telling a story, and referencing some ignorant person in the story. It's not that I purposely say it, or on the flipside, that I consciously try not to say it, but it just seems to flow as the best way to describe the level of ignorance of certain people. I am not necessarily saying that it is okay for me to use that word while in the company of my friends; however, I do think there is a distinct difference between that, and between using the term "nigga" openly and freely among white people. I know, based on experience, that white folks WILL take the liberty to use that word -- and more importantly, to think it is okay to use that word -- once they have heard a black person use it in his/her daily conversation, a comedian use it during a performance, or in rap lyrics.
Unfortunately, the Hip-Hop community shoulders much of the responsibility for widespread acceptability of "nigga." In a show about the TV series "Black.White" -- where a white family and a black family "swapped" lives, Oprah told a story about being in Africa, and being called a "Nigga" by an African man. When told the use of that word was inappropriate, the man told her that based upon the lyrics in rap music, he thought that is how all African-Americans referred to themselves, and shockingly, what they want to be called.
Black folks -- STOP SAYING THE WORD "NIGGA"AROUND WHITE PEOPLE!!!!!!!! Stop speaking so loudly at restaurants and other public places, to the point where white folks all around you can hear you refer to your boys as "niggas." I suppose that we all should try to refrain from using the word altogether, but in the meantime, we really need to curb our willingness to say it so freely in public. As long as we continue to do so, we can expect that white folks will think it is okay to refer to us as "niggas."
Call me a hypocrite, but that's just my honest opinion.