Richard Pryor: There are no “ni**ers” in Africa

Richard Pryor on the cover of the October 1980 edition of Ebony Magazine.

EBONY: Some Black people were also upset about how often and how publicly you used the word “nigger.”
PRYOR: That’s over now, too.
EBONY: You’ll never use the word again? Why?
PRYOR: Well, I took a trip to Africa – which, by the way, is where I plan to live some day. I went to Kenya, and while I was there something inside of me said, “Look around you, Richard. What do you see? I saw people. African people. I saw people from other countries, too, and they were all kinds of colors, but I didn’t see any “niggers.” I didn’t see any there because There are no “niggers” in Africa. Can you imagine going out into the bush and walking up to a Masai and saying, “Hey nigger. Come here!?” You couldn’t do that because Masai are not “niggers.” There are no “niggers” in Africa, and there are no “niggers” here in America either. We Black people are not ”niggers,” and I will forever refuse to be one. I’m free of that, it’s out of my head. My mother is not a “nigger.” Is yours one? So if your mama ain’t no “nigger,” how could you be one? See, when I went to Africa, to my Motherland, I realized that terms like “nigger” and the word “bitch” that so many Black men call our women are tricks, like genocide on the brain.
EBONY: How do you respond to people who say that you used those words on stage and on your albums and got rich doing it, and now all of a sudden…
PRYOR: I’d say to them, “Allow me to grow.” Nobody can stay the same unless he’s Plastic Man. Just watch and see where my growth takes me. Maybe someday they’ll say, “Look at the m—–f—–! He don’t say all that s—t he used to say, he’s still saying some funny s—t.” That’ll be my growth.


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