Is the word Niger a bad word?

To the nature of words:

First, there is no such thing as a "bad word." Words are inanimate and incapable of causing harm of themselves. How words are used is another matter. In the context of this question, it is clear the asker is inquiring after a simialr word that is commonly used in a derogatory way. I'll get to that in a moment.

As the question is asked, no. Niger is the name of a country in central Africa. The name of anything cannot be "bad" and it would be exceedingly difficult to use it in a bad way. It is an identifier, a label in the informational sense. The only way the name of the country Niger could perhaps be used in a bad way is if it were used to refer to another country, as in say if someone were referring to France as Niger. It is obviously incorrect and therefore a bad usage, geographically and grammatically.

On to the asker's intent. The following is an objective treatment of a piece of language and history. No intent or bias is intended on the part of the answerer.

The double "G" word the asker may be referring tohere has acquired negative connotations, but not universally. One can see on the streets, neighborhoods, schools, and pretty much anywhere one can find a concentration of African-Americans young people who use the bouble "G" word as a means to peer bond. It is often tossed about with abandon and little attention is paid to any negative connotation. Where difficulty rises is when any other ethnotype uses the word. If, say, a Caucasian where to use the double "G" word in any context, even in the situation previously mentioned of peer bonding, the likely outcome would be a violent reaction on the part of African-Americans who heard it.

This all being said, the double "G" word comes down as a shortening of the term Negroid, a word that was originally used as a label of ethnicity or race in the traditional sense. The earliest attempts to identify race of humans spoke only of three ethnotypes: Oriental, Caucasoid, and Negroid. This has since been expanded and is much more complex than originally considered. No negative intent was assigned to any of the three words.

The use of the double "G" word rises out of the southern US before and after the Civil War. It was used sometimes to denote a person of low standing, generally applied to slaves, former slaves (post war), and anyone with darker than typical Caucasian skin coloring. Contrary to popular belief, those who used to the word, especially into the later 19th and early 20th century, did so more out of habit than from any presumed higher moral worth or standing. For most intents and purposes, it was a label, a way to identify an unspecified other who could be grouped with a specific ethnotype, not meant to be any more derogatory than "whites" for northern European ethnotypes, or "Asians" for those of Oriental descent.

Over time, as with any word or phrase in any language, it took on a meaning of it's own. With segregation in the South, and defacto segragation in the North, ir became a word that was associated with hate. It is in fact listed as hate language in many hate crime legislation. Yet, it is still used by youths to peer bond.

Language is a funny thing, and most people do not even consider the source of the language they use. Many people misuse language on a regular basis, and many jokes are made about that misuse. Consider for a moment that most of the epithets that we use, the swear or curse words, are actually abbreviations or acronyms from another time. Language is a fluid, living thing. It changes with time. But, it remains inanimate and benign. It takes a speaker who is engaging hateful oppinions to breathe life into them, to turn them into weapons before any harm can rise out of the speaking. And, it is not the word that harms, rather the attitudes and beliefs of the speaker.

Consider for a moment the fragment, "fruit snack." Everyone loves fruit of one form or another. Entire corporations have been founded on the attempt to develop more flavorful and nutricious fruit snack products. It is an inoccuous and harmless term. However, if a child who was angry with another child applied the term, the label, to that other child, "You fruit snack!", this benign term becomes the vehicle of a weapon. It isn't the weapon itself, it only serves to convey the hate and anger, to transport it. The double "G" word does the same. It is a collection of characters that when expressed as sounds acts as a vehicle for the meaning of the person expressing it. The problem is, as with any expression in language, the meaning that is intended is not always the meaning that is received. Those listening sift everything they hear through their own filters, and in doing so blame the words rather than their own preconceived impressions and notions.

The short of it is, a word cannot be intrinsically bad or good. It can only be. The use or purpose to which it is applied, and more specifically the intent with which it is applied CAN be bad or good.
To the nature of words:

First, there is no such thing as a "bad word." Words are inanimate and incapable of causing harm of themselves. How words are used is another matter. In the context of this question, it is clear the asker is inquiring after a simialr word that is commonly used in a derogatory way. I'll get to that in a moment.

As the question is asked, no. Niger is the name of a country in central Africa. The name of anything cannot be "bad" and it would be exceedingly difficult to use it in a bad way. It is an identifier, a label in the informational sense. The only way the name of the country Niger could perhaps be used in a bad way is if it were used to refer to another country, as in say if someone were referring to France as Niger. It is obviously incorrect and therefore a bad usage, geographically and grammatically.

On to the asker's intent. The following is an objective treatment of a piece of language and history. No intent or bias is intended on the part of the answerer.

The double "G" word the asker may be referring tohere has acquired negative connotations, but not universally. One can see on the streets, neighborhoods, schools, and pretty much anywhere one can find a concentration of African-Americans young people who use the bouble "G" word as a means to peer bond. It is often tossed about with abandon and little attention is paid to any negative connotation. Where difficulty rises is when any other ethnotype uses the word. If, say, a Caucasian where to use the double "G" word in any context, even in the situation previously mentioned of peer bonding, the likely outcome would be a violent reaction on the part of African-Americans who heard it.

This all being said, the double "G" word comes down as a shortening of the term Negroid, a word that was originally used as a label of ethnicity or race in the traditional sense. The earliest attempts to identify race of humans spoke only of three ethnotypes: Oriental, Caucasoid, and Negroid. This has since been expanded and is much more complex than originally considered. No negative intent was assigned to any of the three words.

The use of the double "G" word rises out of the southern US before and after the Civil War. It was used sometimes to denote a person of low standing, generally applied to slaves, former slaves (post war), and anyone with darker than typical Caucasian skin coloring. Contrary to popular belief, those who used to the word, especially into the later 19th and early 20th century, did so more out of habit than from any presumed higher moral worth or standing. For most intents and purposes, it was a label, a way to identify an unspecified other who could be grouped with a specific ethnotype, not meant to be any more derogatory than "whites" for northern European ethnotypes, or "Asians" for those of Oriental descent.

Over time, as with any word or phrase in any language, it took on a meaning of it's own. With segregation in the South, and defacto segragation in the North, ir became a word that was associated with hate. It is in fact listed as hate language in many hate crime legislation. Yet, it is still used by youths to peer bond.

Language is a funny thing, and most people do not even consider the source of the language they use. Many people misuse language on a regular basis, and many jokes are made about that misuse. Consider for a moment that most of the epithets that we use, the swear or curse words, are actually abbreviations or acronyms from another time. Language is a fluid, living thing. It changes with time. But, it remains inanimate and benign. It takes a speaker who is engaging hateful oppinions to breathe life into them, to turn them into weapons before any harm can rise out of the speaking. And, it is not the word that harms, rather the attitudes and beliefs of the speaker.

Consider for a moment the fragment, "fruit snack." Everyone loves fruit of one form or another. Entire corporations have been founded on the attempt to develop more flavorful and nutricious fruit snack products. It is an inoccuous and harmless term. However, if a child who was angry with another child applied the term, the label, to that other child, "You fruit snack!", this benign term becomes the vehicle of a weapon. It isn't the weapon itself, it only serves to convey the hate and anger, to transport it. The double "G" word does the same. It is a collection of characters that when expressed as sounds acts as a vehicle for the meaning of the person expressing it. The problem is, as with any expression in language, the meaning that is intended is not always the meaning that is received. Those listening sift everything they hear through their own filters, and in doing so blame the words rather than their own preconceived impressions and notions.

The short of it is, a word cannot be intrinsically bad or good. It can only be. The use or purpose to which it is applied, and more specifically the intent with which it is applied CAN be bad or good.