The contributions of the N-word to Modern Racism

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 …

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The “N” Word

As we left class on Thursday, I decided to ask a question that I have wanted to ask for a while. At 4:15, as class was getting out, I said, “Connie, I have a complicated question that I want a quick answer to. My friends use the ‘n’ word, and I know it’s wrong, but I don’t know what to say to them to prove that it is inappropriate to use. How do I make it clear to them?” After I asked this question, many students chimed in with different times and situations during which they have heard people use this word at any moment, not thinking about the negative effects it can have. One student talked about how, in other parts of the country, the word is not seen as taboo. Here, on the east coast, I take it to be the worst word. If I use curse words or say any other politically incorrect slang words for a group of people, I would never get the same look as I would with the use of the “n” word. Personally, all I need to know is that this word is extremely offensive and I will not use it. Unfortunately, that is not the case for many people. However, because there is such a taboo on the word, it does not take much for someone to understand that, when asked not to use the word, they should not be speaking that way in daily conversation. But then there are the people who do not understand it. They may question why it is offensive and/or why they cannot use it. I never truly had a good understanding and answer until recently.

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