African-Chinese teen implores S'poreans to stop using N-word because of its history

It's a loaded term and some people use it to own it.

Matthias Ang | February 15, 2019, 08:25 PM

A teenager based in Singapore, who is of mixed African-Chinese descent, has taken to Twitter to urge Singaporeans to avoid using the "N-word".

Posted on Feb. 10, 16-year-old Melanie Kasise, tweeted that this was largely because of the origins of the word.

Kasise highlighted that even though she is a person of mixed African descent, she is uncomfortable using the term as she herself has not experienced the "true weight of the word".


Kasise's tweet was met with a mix of derision and curiosity, but most comments were supportive.

Others reacted with support.

One tweeter, who expressed curiosity over Kasise's original tweet, was met with an explanation from another Twitter user:

History of the word and why it is offensive to Africans

According to the African American Registry website (AAREG), "Nigga" or "Nigger" as it was originally known, was supposedly derived from the Latin word for "black" -- "niger".

However, by the 1800s, the word "nigger" had been firmly established as a derogatory slur within American society, in which the word came to codify Africans in general as "a lazy, stupid, dirty, worthless nobody".

The AAREG added that the word also formed the baseline for insulting other groups, with Jews being "white-niggers", Arabs as "sand-niggers", and Japanese as "yellow-niggers".

The Merriam Webster dictionary said the term is "offensive", and "used as an insulting and contemptuous term for a black person".

Why do Africans use it?

The most common explanation as to why Africans use the derogatory term these days among themselves is that it strips the word of its ability to cause hurt and subverts the power dynamics.

For Africans to use the term is an act of reclaiming it as their own and it should be exclusive to their community because of the word's history.

It is akin to saying that the "nigger" word shall not be used in a way to degrade them, but it reaffirms their identity by also not forgetting how they got to this stage, which subverts the power structure of not having the word inflict more harm on them.

In any case, it appears that Kasise had little time for people who persist in using the word:

Top image collage from Melanie Kasise Twitter and Instagram