Cracker, like the term "nigger," is derogatory, but unlike the latter which is hurled primarily at Black folks, the former is reserved for white people, especially in the Southern United States. In reference to a native of Florida or Georgia, however, it is sometimes used in a neutral or positive context and is sometimes used self-descriptively with pride. And with the recent attempt to make the term nigger positive, the two term share a similar ambivalence. But the two terms are not necessarily equivalent.
There are multiple explanations of the etymology of "cracker," most dating its origin to the 18th century or earlier.
One theory holds that slave foremen in the antebellum South used bullwhips to discipline Afrikan slaves, with such use of the whip being described as "cracking the whip." The white foremen who cracked these whips thus became known as "crackers." Who was this cracker? The master, his son, or a local white that was hired to do the job. This person was a hired hand, generally a person of a lower class distinction. He was more than likely the Scots-Irish and English settlers in the south, who were descendants of English bond servants. These individuals may have been the workers on the plantation, whose task included overseeing and discipline. Their roles as “crackers” of the whip was not one that held much syatus in the eyes of the master. It was considered a lowly but necessary part of slavery, and this class of men that were assigned the task were equally viewed lowly in the planter class. However, Frederick Law Olmsted, a prominent landscape architect from Connecticut, visited the South as a journalist in the 1850s and wrote that "some crackers owned a good many Negroes, and were by no means so poor as their appearance indicated."
Another notion of the word “cracker” being associated with the whip is the "cracker cowboy" who unlike Spanish vaquero and the Western cowboy who used lassos to herd or capture cattle, their primary tools to move the cattles were cow whips and dogs.The Florida Cracker Trail is a route which cuts across southern Florida, following the historic trail of the old cattle drives. In this context, the term refers to the cracking of the whips used by the Florida drovers.
Another is that the term “cracker” comes from the common diet of poor whites. According to the 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica the term derives from the cracked (kernels of) corn which formed the staple of this class.
"Cracker" has also been used as a proud or jocular self-description. With the huge influx of new residents from the North, "cracker" is used informally by some white residents of Florida and Georgia ("Florida cracker" or "Georgia cracker") to indicate that their family has lived there for many generations. It has been used in songs, by politicians (the latest being Bill Clinton), and Afrikan Americans. However, the term "white cracker" as opposed to “cracker” is seldom used self-referentially and remains an offensive racial slur used to demean Caucasians.
The point is that “cracker” like “nigger” were both created by white folks. Apparently “cracker” derived from the person who weilded the whip either on Afrikan or cows, and was a task assigned to low-class whites. Some who even rose to become slave-owners. So when Afrikan people use a term that they use on themselves, is that racist? (If anything, “white cracker” appears to be the real slur.)