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House Negro

"House Negro" (also "House Nigger") is a pejorative term for a black person, used to compare someone to a house slave of a slave owner from the historic period of legal slavery in the United States. The term comes from a speech "Message to the Grass Roots" (1963) by African American activist Malcolm X, wherein he explains that during slavery, there were two kinds of slaves: "house Negroes", who worked in the master's house, and "field Negroes", who performed the manual labor outside.

He characterizes the house Negro as having a better life than the field Negro, and thus unwilling to leave the plantation and potentially more likely to support existing power structures that favor whites over blacks. Malcolm X identified with the field Negro. The term is used against individuals,[1][2] in critiques of attitudes within the African American community,[3] and as a borrowed term for critiquing parallel situations.[4]


  • Other countries 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • Further reading 4

Other countries

In New Zealand in 2012, Hone Harawira, a Member of Parliament and leader of the socialist Mana Party, aroused controversy after referring to Maori MPs from the ruling New Zealand National Party as "little house niggers" during a heated debate on electricity privatisation, and its potential effect on Waitangi Tribunal claims.[5]

See also


  1. ^ "Obama a 'house negro', says Al-Qaeda" Sydney Morning Herald, November 21, 2008
  2. ^ "Black Group Condemns Cartoonist for Racist Strip About Condoleezza Rice," Project 21 press release, July 19, 2004
  3. ^ "The Bridge: In the House", from the blog of Darryl James, author of "Bridging The Black Gender Gap"
  4. ^ "The Secretary: Capitalism's House Nigger," Kathi Roche, from the Women's Liberation Movement on-line archival collection, Special Collections Library, Duke University
  5. ^ Danya Levy & Kate Chapman (2012-09-06). "Harawira's N-bomb directed at National MPs". Fairfax NZ. 

Further reading

  • Malcolm X Speaks, George Breitman, ed. (New York: Grove Weidenfeld Publishers, 1990). ISBN 0-8021-3213-8
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