PDF_Akom_The House That Race Built

Published in: Construction Sites: Excavating Race, Class, and Gender amongst Urban Youth (140-161). Eds: M. Fine & L. Weis.

Full Title: The House that Race Built: Some Observations of the use of the word Nigga, Popular Culture, and Urban Youth Culture


What is the political and social significance of the word Nigga – on the playground, in the street, on the corner, and in educational and public spaces? Is the word Nigga part of the pain and patriarchy of working-class White culture? What is the trajectory of the word Nigger/Nigga and its relationship to other communities usually not defined as Black or working-class? Too often language is approached from the angle of how people use it rather than why. By shifting our attention to the strategic moves behind language, the memories that propel it, and the motivations that give it a certain visibility and social mobility, we can begin to understand the cultural and power relationships involved in the construction of language – that directly and indirectly influence people’s living standard, life chances, and command over resources.