As a poet, I have always thought words are words and they only have the power (levity) you give them.
For example, Ladies, have you ever met someone who thought that using the word "B___h" was really going to get you P.O.'d? And how did you handle that? If it wasn't shocking to you, or if you have any sliver of survivor within you, the word rolls off your back...
As a woman; if you think I am a "B"-word, I can see it as my advantage. However, as a Black woman, if you have a list of stereotypes you expect me to fit; then I welcome you to the privilege of knowing me. It will be my privilege to blow your mind! And that's the type of thinking that will move us forward. The idea behind using epithets was to divide.... "You are different from me," & "I am better than you..." (The division made capture easy.) The word was forged in hatred. So to say, today, that we are using it out of love or comradery is a sign of severe Stockholm Syndrome. An entire race left in a PTSD state? We have been taken away from our land by our captors, and made to learn their words and their language... (I may sound comical, but the comparison is so serious.)
Have you ever noticed that we do not have any English words of African descent (maybe two or three)? We have adopted the language of our captors, and the ways of our captors: separating by color and tone; using negative words to put down those disadvantaged members of our demographic. Why alienate and call names of those we should mentor or take aside (yellow or darkness). Wake up, and see there are no more field staff and house staff. If the condition isn't prevalent, then how did the word survive?
I wonder what our word was for brother or friend in Igbo, or Yoruba? I wonder how teasing sounds in Afrikaans?
Then, our media only gives us what we "seem to want"; enter rappers on record saying they prefer the epithet. So it continues to pop up whether it's old-timers (damn N!ggers), Rappers (nycca what!!?), or accidental racists (Pack of N******). And how do we process it, how do we respond?
It should be a goal of the individual to change the impact of the word. You say want to own it...? Kill it, use another word in its place. And furthermore, don't let each and every occurance of it's usage make you scream and shout and rant and riot. (This is a display in itself.) It doesn't matter who said it, hold every HUMAN to the same standard and you will already be defying the N-word's mission of destruction. Embrace your fellow (Brown/ other) man, and do not let your "enemy" see you stabbing him in the back.
Also, we must be the Afro-American, Brown human or Brotha or Sista, we want to be seen as. Imagine a world of names like Nubian, like Thoroughbred, rather than hoodrats and N|GGAS. Positivity must come from us, in order to surround us, thereby becoming a part of our image as a people. We must respect and conduct ourselves in a way that portrays us living above the stereotypes. This will be an ultimate model for our upcoming generation. There was a time when our people spoke to each other to uplift each other, it helped us through centuries of hard times. We sang Negro Spirituals, and prayed together. But this picture, this concept of the "NIGGER" can dissipate. You are not property, you are not savages, you are not an overseer trying to retain Massa's favor! You are not to be chained and separated from your children. So drop the word (and that bag of cotton) and become an equal. And then even in moments of anger, happiness, and sheer excitement......We can't say it. We have to take it out of our vocabularies, so others will know there is unequivocally no acceptable situation in which they may use the ambidextrous word.