White Nigga Rick

September 2nd, 2007 by Editor B

I was hanging out with the neighbors across the street one evening, about a month ago. I was mostly talking to this older gentleman, a guy about 80, nicknamed Easy. We were sharing some Crown Royal and talking about all manner of things.

But as I was talking to Easy, I overheard a conversation amongst some of the younger guys. By younger, I mean around my age. Note that everyone there was African-American except for Rick and me.

“Rick, you may be a white guy, but your shit’s just tighter than any nigga round here.”

“Yeah, Rick, you’re like a white nigga.”

“We oughta call you… White Nigga Rick!”

“Yeah, Rick the white nigga.”

“Mister Rick, the white nigga.”

And there was much laughter and many variations on the theme.

I’ve held off writing about this for over a month because I’m not in the habit of repeating racial epithets. Yet this story couldn’t be recounted properly without using the n-word. Plus, it stirred up some weird feelings that I still can’t fully analyze.

Part of what I felt was disgust, because I was taught not to talk like that. I’m uncomfortable hearing that term used among people of any race, even in a friendly fashion, for reasons that have been written about and debated by others ad nauseum. I’ve certainly gotten desensitized after living in New Orleans for eight years, but hearing it applied by black men to a white man gave it a certain freshness.

Yet the offense I felt was commingled with a sense of admiration. Here are people breaking down racial barriers. Isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that heart-warming?

Overriding these conflicting emotions, I also felt a great deal of amusement. The spirit of the whole thing was pretty silly and good-natured.

As the other white guy in the mix, I felt a little left out. My neighbors didn’t apply this term of endearment and inclusion to me. They didn’t proclaim that my shit was tight. But at the same time I recognized that I don’t want to be caught up in that embrace. It would make me feel incredibly uncomfortable. So what, do I think I’m better than them? I’ve rarely felt so white and so bourgeois.

One consequence of Rick’s christening is that he now feels free to sling the n-word with abandon. I heard him on his cell yesterday, “Where y’at nigga?”

Maybe he always talked that way. I don’t know.

I’m still not sure how I feel about any of this.

8 Responses to “White Nigga Rick”

  1. Michael Says:

    Your shit is lose, B… Much like the gentleman who used your backyard as a toilet.

  2. dangerblond Says:

    It’s OK to be white.
    your shit is still tight.

  3. Marco Says:

    Lenny Bruce said something like “say the word nigga ad nauseum till it doesn’t mean anything”. In a way, I know what he meant. It’s sorta the same thang. Ed B, whether you’re a white nigga or not makes no difference sub specie eternitatis. You and Xy are NOLA. That’s all that counts for me.

  4. David Says:

    Could you describe the nature of Rick’s tight shit?

  5. A. Father Says:

    Sounds like a great neighborhood to raise children

  6. Jeremy Rich Says:

    In Gabon in 2004, a friend said I was like a noir once I helped her barracade her door to block her brother from attacking her entire family. In particular, she meant I knew what furniture to use to block the entry “juste comme un noir”. I didn’t feel too great about the situation…

  7. Editor B Says:

    Funny, Jeremy. You may recall that I actually thought you were a “noir” when I first met you. Silly humans. So easily confused.

    David, I’m not sure exactly how or why Rick has won the opprobrium of my neighbors. Is it just because he’s got some cool gear, or is it because he’s got a good sense of humor, or what? I don’t know.

  8. David Says:

    Well, they actually offered three monicers for Rick:
    “White Nigga Rick”
    “Rick, the White Nigga”
    “Mister Rick, the White Nigga”

    The third really does a lot there. The “mister” confers a certain amount of politeness, while also providing an ironic flare given the last word. However, I do prefer the first one. It is elegant and rhythmic. It just goes to prove that in all writing, often your first instinct is the right one.

    Rick: 3
    B: 0

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