Thursday, August 1, 2013

The N - Word

In America, the n-word is probably the most controversial, offensive and historically powerful word in our entire language. Slavery and the overall mistreatment of people of African descent and black skin color, make the use of the n-word offensive & physically discomforting for most people to this present day. From a World & Historic context, America's abuse of Black People is our Worst Failure as a culture and a society.

The definition of the word has changed and evolved throughout history, but its origins are of an offensive nature, initially describing slaves negatively in the 1600s. The word has always served to demean & belittle black people as less than human. As our culture has evolved with sacrifice, revolution, education and evolution, we as the human race have learned that we are all the same with only subtle, minute differences e.g. language, culture, ethnicity, skin color, etc... Main Point being no race is superior or inferior, we are only human (flawed, but hopefully always learning & improving).

Today, the n-word does not carry the power it once did in the mid 20th century, but it remains a devisive term. Black people have claimed & redefined the word
by replacing the -er suffix with an -a. 'Nigga' serves as a positive term of endearment when a fellow black person refers or calls another person by the word. As a cultural norm, the n-word in either persuasion is not meant for white people to use. Universally, black people feel since they've endured the abuse from the word, and from our culture as a whole, they have the exclusive right to use the n-word as they see fit.  It's really not difficult to understand when you examine the history.

Some people won't say the n-word at all. Some people prefer the word with an 'a' on the end. Some people say it only in private. And others say it freely because they choose to diminish it's power. Personally, I choose to not say the n-word. But then again I don't believe using the n-word necessarily makes you racist. As a white person I choose to not say it because it's an ugly word with an ugly history. I completely understand and appreciate black people claiming the word as a positive. It's a matter of change and a symbol of power. No longer will black people be put down by the n-word, for we as the human race should be above it all.

Though it's power is diminished, the n-word can still incite harsh feelings & reactions. Riley Cooper of the NFL was recorded on a cell phone using the n-word referring to a security guard he apparently had a confrontation with. Cooper, unaware he was being recorded, made the derogatory comment toward a black person whom was not in the vicinity. He felt safe to use the word being only in the company of white people. The Philadelphia media obtained the video footage and ran with the story, as Philadelphia is a city rich with diversity.

If we can learn from the incident, the social use of the n-word amongst white people is no longer a safe circumstance. Most people, regardless of race, take
offense to the public usage of the n-word. People will continue to use the word regardless of race, but they must understand the history and the consequences of uttering the n-word. Hopefully, Riley Cooper will learn from his mistake. And hopefully additional dialogues will begin amongst all people to examine & discuss our differences and our similarities as people. We can all learn from each other and improve as a result.

No comments:

Post a Comment