An open question was posed in a group I’m in that (I hope) was honestly confused with why one can now use the word queer, but not nigger. I feel this is important enough to restate here.
Apologies for the Language there. All examples after this will be em-dashed.
Reproduction of my response:
As a black queer person, I am in the camp that you cannot compare the two.
Queer was never used in the old trade as a way to designate an inventory. It never denoted — legally for years — mere fractions of a person. Being queer was never an exclusive reason to stamp out an entire people (as opposed to parts), but as soon as you were labeled n—, it was open season, sometimes literally, as people were once hunted, beaten, lynched. Special laws kept us from advancement. There are literally studies out there that confirm both a subhuman and superhuman bias—we’re thought of as both more dangerous and savage but we’re thought of as literally “magic Negroes” and it even affects the medical treatment we get—I didn’t know that I had a superhuman tolerance for pain, thanks!
N— was used for hundreds of years to call us livestock. We internally reclaimed it as a “screw you” to the past. It was a tool of often fatal oppression. This is why the two words cannot be compared… and also why there’s so much vitriol when one who is not Black uses it. It is not your word.
Minutes later I discovered how deep down the group’s unknowing of the situation ran, as part of the entirely white questioning group asked me “but, what about when it’s used as a term of endearment?”
“Used as a term of comraderie and endearment, it is a terminal -a, not an -er… and if you are not Black, you shouldn’t be using it. Don’t be Chet Hanks.”