‘Nigger’ does not belong in the school yard

I’ll be sending this letter to the Principal. Am posting here in case there are other parents who have the same issues at their children’s school.

For the record, I don’t have a problem with Chris Lilley or his work (I’ll let others critique the blackface hiphop character). I do have a problem with parents who let their kids watch the programme and then FAIL to educate them about appropriate behaviour.

I also understand contemporary uses of the term by African-American communities and maybe there are some usages of the term by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities probably amongst younger people. I know very few of my peers who use the word in conversation. All that said, there is no reason why a predominantly White country would have school-yards using the word freely and easily. It does not belong. There is no need. Use of the term highlights ignorance and laziness on behalf of parents.

Basically, the word Nigger does not belong in the Brisbane schoolyard. 

Dear Mr ….
It has come to my attention that many of the boys in the upper school are calling each other ‘smash nigger‘. Apparently this term comes from the song of the same name by Australian comedian Chris Lilley for his 2011 television series Angry Boys on the ABC. This is very distressing for M, who has been raised with an awareness of the word and an understanding of it’s meaning and history.

I am requesting that you send a note to parents making the following points:

  • Nigger is a word that used in Australia, denotes and has a history of racism and violence. This racism and violence is not only a thing of the past, but is very much alive today.
  • Nigger is a word that is inappropriate for use in a professional and educational settings.
  • The free use of the word Nigger is distressing for other children.
  • Parents who allow their children to watch Angry Boys should discuss appropriate use of language with their children. This is implied in the M rating of the Angry Boys series (Mature audiences, ie. over the age of 15). 
  • Parents who allow their children to watch Angry Boys (on television or clips on YouTube), should discuss with their children that Chris Lilley, the writer and creator of the series is an adult, that the humour is directed at and made for other adults, and much of the language and behaviour is not meant to be, nor should be copied. 
  • Parents should be made aware that their children’s language is upsetting to other children in their year group.

I look forward to discussing this further.

2 thoughts on “‘Nigger’ does not belong in the school yard”

  1. I read that the second series of Angry Boys was made in collaboration with HBO, and sold to the BBC. It didnt work. I think Mr Lilley was trying to attract their interest with the 2011 Angry Boys series, hence the language that wasnt part of what made him popular in the first place, ie We might be heroes.

    1. Thanks for your comment Siv. I enjoyed We might be heroes, and simple assumed that Angry Boys would be just as "on the button". But it really missed the mark – the black face? I mean really? It was just so clumsily Australian. ie. clumsy and unsophisticated about how it deals with race. It also had a social web campaign attached to it – which appealed to young people who didn't get the satire. Perhaps the campaign and young people's engagement was all part of the "message" and the satire. Maybe it was one giant performance piece. Who knows. All I know is, is if you're child lives in the 'burbs there is NO reason they should come out with the N-Word.

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