Dan Ryan, two-o-clock in the morning. I had to be doing about eighty miles per hour, shifting lanes carefully but swiftly, pushing my car to moderate race car status. I just want to get home, fast, I just dropped off a co-worker and when I get home I'm either going to go to sleep or do some work. Insomnia will have the final say. I hit the off ramp at 76th street. Just as I am riding up to street level on State out the corner of my eye I catch a big white thing where there shouldn't be a big white thing. I look and the big white thing is a suv, it's bigger than usual because it's on it's side. It's not where it's supposed to be because it's on the sidewalk. Then I notice a bunch of people scattering around the vehicle.
Fuck sleep, fuck work, someone needs help! An evasive maneuver later I park my car in the gas station parking lot and immediately rush out my car, jogging to what may be a grizzly scene.
As I approach, a brother is climbing out the vehicle from the passenger side, which is pointed straight up as the vehicle is laying on it's driver side. The passenger is struggling to pull himself out of the truck while another brother climbs half way up the truck to help him. There are about a dozen or so sisters and brothers around the overturned suv, all yelling for the passenger to be careful.
I notice about four or five people gathered at the bottom driver side of the suv. I walk over to see what they are looking at and there he is...the driver, not moving, pressed up against the side of the vehicle which is now the bottom.
"He's breathing, I can see his stomach move!"
"We need a light!"
"Can you hear me in there?!?!?!"
A brother reaches for my cell phone and asks "I just need a light to see..."
"I'll turn the flash light on." I respond. I hit the icons on my phone and the screen lights up, sending pale barely adequate light into the scattered, damaged cabin of the suv. We can see a clear outline of the driver who is obviously injured but we don't know how bad.
"He's not responding."
"How can we get in there?!"
"Ayyyy, can you hear me?!?!?!"
Still no response. The crowd is starting to grow restless with the anticipation of what might be the obvious.
SLAAAAMMM!!! The passenger falls off the top of the vehicle and impacts the concrete with a bone jarring thud. The people let out a collective groan.
I step back and survey the entire scene as the passenger is attended to by some people.
These people, sisters and brothers, wearing elaborate perms, baseball caps tilted to the left, others to the right, blonde hair, white tee's, gaudy Jesus piece jewelry, unlit cigarettes hanging out their mouths, it all didn't matter because one of us was trapped, severely injured in the truck. We turned to each other, a look of delayed panic in our eyes, helping, collaborating on ideas on how to get our brother out from the twisted metal. Others pulled his passenger off to the side away from the truck fearing it may tilt over on him. Sisters putting their hands over their mouths smearing their lipstick and foundation, mascara starting to moisten and run from the thought of what might be. An off duty nurse directed us all in what to do with the passenger that fell out. She called the ambulance twice already and now we can hear the sirens in the distance.
Finally as the fire truck arrived, brothers eagerly jumped to their elaborate souped up vehicles to remove them from the area so that the emergency vehicles could get through. As soon as the firefighters emerged from the truck they immediately advised us all to step back. We all complied while one brother briefed the emergency workers on the situation.
As the firefighters and ambulatory workers surround the vehicle, engaging in their professionalism, we all stood around and watched. Some bent over to try to get one last look at the driver trapped inside. While the workers lugged out the jaws of life and crowbars to break the glass, we all turned to each other and quietly conversed amongst ourselves while keeping eye on the situation. There was talk of God, death, the fragility of life, the wisdom of not doing stupid shit, hope for the driver and passenger, their families and each other: "Where you comin' from playa?", "Did you see what happened?" , "I'm sorry fo' being bossy, I wuz jus tryin'..." "I know dude, it's cool.", "I can't watch this, he might be dead.".
After a few moments, the fire men were able to destroy enough of the roof of the vehicle to get the driver out. Upon gently placing him on the concrete to the side they immediately covered him completely with a blanket. The obvious became obvious. His head was crushed between the truck meeting the concrete. He was gone.
Sisters and brothers became quiet once the realization overcame them. I watched the faces, sullen, empathetic, some saying a silent prayer as they kept their demeanor. Others shook their heads and walked away from the scene.
"He's dead, he didn't survive.", "Yeah, he's gone.", "Damn."
I thought about the surviving passenger, we learned that they were cousins. The passenger was taken away in an ambulance before the driver was declared dead. He's waiting at the hospital emergency room for news of his cousin if not his cousin himself. I thought about when and how the news will get to him...and the rest of his family. Here is where it happens, we read about it, we hear about it, but right in front of all our eyes, a person just left their body, and they're not coming back. A whole family has gone through a traumatic change. We tried our best to stop it. We were here to help, to save a life. Even though we couldn't do it, still I felt my sisters and brothers that night. I was closer to my people that night than I have been in a very long time. That's when it hit me.
I hear my friends and comrades throw around the word nigger and nigga like white southern plantation slave owners, complete with disdain. Even when these words are used as "terms of endearment" it is interchangable with the terms of disparagement. My experience with these sisters and brothers that night, the very ones many other Black people call niggers and nigga, has impressed upon me a realization and a decision I made long ago.
I don't want to be called "nigger" or "nigga" anymore. And I will not refer to my people as "niggers" and "niggas" no longer.
That was a decision I made years ago. How long? I do not know. One day, just recently I realized that I had not used the word(s) except in precise context and perspectives as in elucidating a point. But the casual use of the word towards my people be it term of endearment or an insult? No, I have not and I will not call my people that again.
Why? I am FX, I am my name and I am a New Afrikan revolutionary. I am not the pig, I am not the oppressor, I am not a slave owner I am not a self hating negro. Since I do not identify with these aforementioned figures I speak a different language because I am a different creature, far more advanced than those I mentioned. If I am to be so-called "enlightened" or "conscious" then I must speak, believe and act differently than those aforementioned beings, without being beligerent, condescending or disconnected towards my own people.
My Ancestors were hung, shot, raped, enslaved, broken, cut open, murdered all while this word was uttered with disgust by a people who themselves wouldn't be considered "human". By the honor and the respect for my Ancestors, I refuse that word as an identification to me or my people. And that is despite any Ancestor who would not recognize or agree with such a stance.
With that, I am asking all my friends, comrades and loved ones, do not call me a nigga or nigger again. I ask this out of respect to your divinely given freedom of speech but still respecting the my divinely given sovereignty of my being. I am your brother, your friend, comrade, homeboy etc. Use terms that are actually endearing and positive affirmations. You all can use the words nigger and nigga (or anything else) if you want to among yourselves that's on you, but please...those ways are not my ways, respect me. The same goes with pimp, mack, playa, dog, etc. None of that is me.
I am well aware of the many rationales people use as to why they use the word nigger and nigga, however to me, they are either weak arguments or they are not as strong an argument as the one contrary to the use of the words. I know about Nagas, niguns, and niger....I don't care. I am aware of Tupac's "never ignorant gettin' goals accomplished" acronym....I do not care. What Pac described was GOD, and Elijah Muhammad taught us what we were. We are the makers owners cream of the planet Earth, GOD OF THE UNIVERSE....for me, the choice is a no-brainer. The old man from Georgia told me what I was, what we were. End of story.
What does this have to do with the scene I described before? That night I did not see niggers. I was not surrounded by niggers. For a short time there was no division between us. The brothers with their hats turned to the right would have acted desparetely to save the life of the driver if his hat was to the left. The sisters anguished over this brother's life and cried for the safety of the brother who survived. We looked into each others eyes and instead of intimidating each other or maliciously sizing each other up, we had looks of concern, empathy and togetherness. No I didn't see any niggers that night. No niggas either. I saw Afrikans, Black people, soulfully complex Original Women and Men.
Afterwards, when everybody went home, they hugged their children, their friends and family. Maybe they reverted back to their respective negative behaviour. Yeah our people can be ignorant, mind controlled, slave mentality, low self esteem, dysfunctional, carnal, trifling, stupid, emotionally crippled, spiritually stifled or whatever. But that night, for a little while I saw our potential and no one can tell me that Black people are totally alien to the concepts of respect and love. No one can convince me that our people do not contain within them the divine consciousness, the inate sensitivity and dare I say goodness that we all are so condescendingly content in dismissing. I know better and we must use wisdom to know what we are dealing with and how to deal with it.
Will I ever use the word nigger again? Perhaps. Maybe I'll give it back to white folks. They're the niggers now.
copyright 2010 FX Nozakhere