Richard Pryor from live on the Sunset strip describing why he stopped using the word ni**a.
“It’s nice to have pride about your shit. I went home to the motherland. And everybody should go home to Africa. Everybody. Especially, Black people.
Really man, there is so much to see there for the eye and the heart of the Black people. Cause white people you’ll go there and you’ll get ideas: “Well that’s where the Black people of America should be walking around with sticks.” You’ll get the wrong idea.
But man you’ll go, I went to motherfucking land of my roots. 700 million Black people not one of them motherfuckers [unintelligible]. I looked in every phone book in Africa. I didn’t find one god damn Pryor. I found one familiar name, “Jabo Walker.” I called that up, they said he was in Arizona.
One thing I got out of it…was magic, I’d like to share with you. You know, I was leavin’ and I was sittin in a hotel a voice came to me and said, “Look around. What do you see?”
And I said, “I see all colors of people doing everything.” You know? And the voice said, “Do you see any ni**as?” And I said, “No.” And it said, “You know why? Cause there aren’t any.”
It hit me, like a shot man. I started crying and shit, I was sittin there and I said: “I been here three weeks and I haven’t even said it. I haven’t even thought it.” And it made me think: “aw my God, I been wrong. I been wrong. I got to regroup my shit. I mean, I said, I ain’t never gonna call another Black man ni**a.” [applause]
You know? Cause we never was no ni**as. That’s a word that’s used to describe our own wretchedness and we perpetuate it now, cause it’s dead. That word’s dead. We men and women. We came from…we come from the first people on the earth. [cheers] You know? The first people on the earth were BLACK PEOPLE!!!
Cause anthropologists…white anthropologists [laughter]…some of the white people going: “That could be true you know.” [more laughter] Yeah! Dr. Leakey and them found people remains 5 million years ago in Africa. You know them motherfuckers didn’t speak French. So Black people we the first people had thought. Right? We were the first to say, ”Where the fuck am I? And how do you get to Detroit?”
So you can take it for what it’s worth. I know…like…I ain’t trying to preach to nobody. I’m just talking about my feelings about it. And I don’t want them hip white people coming up to me calling me no ni**a or telling me ni**a jokes. I don’t like it. I’m just telling you. It’s uncomfortable to me. I don’t like it when Black people say it to me. I really don’t no more. It’s nothin. It don’t mean nothin. So I love ya’ll and you can take that with ya.”