A lot of white people wonder why Black people call each other nigger
, yet get really offended when a white man
uses the word. I don't think there is a double-standard
at work here. The issue is more about the history of the word nigger and how it was used in American society.
Nigger is a shortening of Negro, and became known as a word of abuse during the 1950s and 1960s. Remember that in those days even educated Blacks were looked down upon and confined to the ghetto. The word was, and still is, used by whites to diminish blacks.
Blacks use the word differently. It is a diminutive to them as well, but suggests familiarity much as we might call someone named David Davey. They're saying 'don't get uppity' to each other. But the person who says it is also black. He's the same, so he's a nigger too. The word in that context is a diminutive but inclusive, reminding the two black men of their shared identity.
A white man who uses the word nigger can't do that. He is and always will be seen as a member of the dominant class, the slaveowner rather than the slave. The word can never be inclusive, because the two men don't share that identity. This is why white men can't use the word nigger.
Of course there are times when white and black men find themselves at odds. Black people are human. Like all people, you'll meet both saints and jackasses. It's normal to seek a clear way to express anger. But if a white man uses the word nigger, he's suggesting the problem has to do with the man's color, rather than his attitude. Using the word 'nigger' means the white guy is now the one with the attitude. It may let the other guy off the hook emotionally. I'd suggest as a white man that we just forego using the word nigger. After all, asshole works just fine.