The Spanish word negro originates from the Latin word niger, meaning black. In English, negro or neger became negar and finally nigger, most likely under influence of French nègre (also derived from the Latin niger).
In Colonial America, Neger (sometimes spelled "neggar") prevailed in northern New York under the Dutch and also in Philadelphia, in its Moravian and Pennsylvania Dutch communities. For example, the African Burial Ground in New York City was originally known as "Begraaf Plaats van de Neger."
In the United States, the word nigger was not always considered derogatory, but was instead used by some as merely denotative of black, as it was in other parts of the English-speaking world. In nineteenth-century literature, there are many uses of the word nigger with no intended negative connotation. Charles Dickens, and Joseph Conrad (who published The Nigger of the 'Narcissus' in 1897) used the word without racist intent. Mark Twain often put the word into the mouths of his Southern characters, white and black, but did not use the word when speaking in his own voice in his autobiographical Life on the Mississippi.
In the United States, the word was freely used by some whites and blacks until the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s. It seems that the word acquired a pejorative meaning in the Northern United States before acquiring the same connotation in the South.
We, the undersigned, believe that insulting, derogatory, degrading, demeaning, malicious, venomous, debilitating, and self-defeating word should be removed from the English language.
The Eradicate the N-Word petition to The Usage of the "N-Word" was written by Nick Gallegos and is in the category Culture at GoPetition.