The "n-word" came to mind. Mainly in relation to how we as Xicanos use it, relate to it or don't. I remember being at this party one night and my friend and I were talking, we weren't beyond shit-faced so we were able to hold a coherent conversation, wherein he had just had an encounter with a few young guys. I say encounter, but it was more of a confrontation. He told me about an incident wherein he was walking with a mutual friend of ours and came across a group of younger Xicanos, whom they tagged along with since they were headed to the same party. They exchanged names, geographical origins-and realized they lived around the same area, the bay, so they started out getting along well enough. As they were all talking, the younger guys kept exchanging the word "nigga." Eventually the guy talking with my friend, started referring to him in the same manner, "You know what I'm saying nigga?"My friend was taken aback by this. He promptly asked the bay guy to please not call him a "nigga." It's not so much that my friend didn't like the word, because it was used by racists, so whether they used the "a" at the end or the "er" he didn't care for it, because he is a vehemently proud Xicano who refuses to be called anything than what he is, last thing you want to do is call him is a hispanic or latino . . . oh yeah, and he was a former gang member who apparently during his heydays running on the streets didn't care much for black people. Nonetheless, either that guy slipped up or using that word as he spoke was just so innate that he couldn't stop, because he kept tossing it around as he spoke with my friend. I think according to my friend he asked him one more time to not use it when speaking to him, but it continued. At which point my friend blew his fucken lid and told them "I told you to stop calling me "nigga"! If you don't want to stop, I'll take all you motherfuckers on, one by one!" I guess it was the groups turn to be taken aback, because at first they were stunned and then they were ready to brawl, but our mutual friend jumped in and prevented a night of Xicano on Xicano violence.
As I said, my friend was a gang member, and from what I understand they didn't care much for African-Americans, I'm guessing this goes back to whatever racial tensions prison gangs were having. I would at times hear the word "mayate" tossed around, a derogatory Spanish word used to refer to dark skinned people, in California it was used obviously to refer to African-Americans. I dated a girl who told me once she lived in an apartment complex where she had an African-American friend visit. After her African-American friend left, she was approached by a neighbor who happened to be of the chola persuasion, and asked her if the friend lived in the complex, the girl I dated replied, "No." And the chola's response was "Good. We don't like their kind around here." I was thinking whut the fuck? When did Central California become Mississippi?! Apparently when the chola said "we" she wasn't talking about Chicanos as a whole, but about the gang. Shaking my head moment to the infinite fucking power.
Back in high school I had a friend that allowed himself to get a little too caught up in rap music, and so he became one of those kids that tossed around "nigga" too. I wasn't there when it happened, but it was during our high school senior trip, where they got taken to Great America. My friend learned his lesson due to what happened while he was there. He was trying to get in line for one of the rides, and as he was jostling back and forth with his friends he was saying "Hey nigga, let me get in line. Come on nigga!" According to him, eventually out of the corner of his eye he turned, looked, and saw some African-Americans standing in line no too far off. They'd been watching and listening to him. He stopped his shenanigans, got redder than a ripe strawberry, and got in line embarrassed along with the other friends, who must have been embarrassed for him as well, cause they stopped horsing around too. And so my friend's rap career ended in a line at Great America.
I remember hearing an Anglo student in a class once out right admit that he would greet his African-American friends with "What's up nigga." That one caught me off guard. According to him it was cool though, because his African-American friends were cool with it, not only that, but he actually said he was from the bay, so most people in the bay referred to each other that way. Yeeeeeeah, I'm still not convinced all them appreciated it though, regardless of how cool they were with him. But who knows maybe they didn't care because according to The Game in his rap song My Life, "Fuck Jesse Jackson, cause it ain't about race now."
Those guys that my friend in the first paragraph wanted to fight with, they were from the bay, so I'm guessing that's their excuse for why it was so easy for them to use it as well. When listening to rap music I've had a couple of friends asking "Que son esas negradas?!" Directly translated it's "What is that black shit?!" In other words, "Why you listening to that black shit?!" They would rather listen to corridos, even though a few of them are also into rap.
I guess, I'm just kinda astounded by the varying attitudes of Xicanos when it comes to the use of the word. Some Xicanos (cough cough) from the bay (cough) use it openly splicing it into their sentences and you know, it's okay, cause they're from the bay. Others don't even want to be referred to it, because they are prideful Xicanos, that love their brownness. And apparently others are basically brown supremacists who should be wearing brown hoods, because they want to maintain the brown purity of their neighborhoods.