Some of you may have heard about, or even watched, the ESPN special on “The N-Word” that was shown on Outside the Lines. The hour long special invited influential African American athletes to discuss the word and its meaning, as well as younger student athletes. Bob Ley stated that the purpose of the special was to:
“have an honest conversation about this word, which is on the third rail of American society.” He added: “We’re going to try and bring this to American living rooms, and American dorm rooms and American bar rooms and American dinner tables in a way where maybe it hasn’t [been].”
It was very interesting to hear the difference in what this word meant to them between older athletes, like Brianna Scurry, Warren Moon and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and what the word meant to teenage student athletes. The older athletes shared some offensive stories stemming from the word, and discussed what that word meant to them and still does. The high school students interviewed say that the word is now no more than a “personal greeting” and that it is used so freely that it “has no meaning to it anymore”, somewhat contradicting Ley’s third rail statement.
This belief that the word no longer has a meaning and that it is in daily vocabulary of both white and black people is somewhat concerning in my opinion. Modern racism, as discussed in the Nelson article, argues that people in today’s world believe that discrimination no longer exists. Discrimination is clearly still present in our society, and I believe that making the word mainstream and meaningless may be contributing to this false belief and therefore making modern racism more widespread. How do you believe that the evolution of the N-word has effected racism in today’s world?