|The 'N-Word'...Perhaps no more controversial word in the English language and likely no equivalent to
be found in any other language. It is a word with entangled layers of negative meaning and symbolism.
It is reviled, feared, and avoided by most, yet frequently and frivolously expressed by others.
Who can say it?... in what form?, and in what context?....There is a complex set of informal rules
pertaining to race, age, and social standing. Some can express the word with seeming impunity, some
can use the word by dropping the "er" (to be replaced by an 'a'), while others cannot use the word in
|In contemporary society there is great debate pertaining to the 'word' itself. Some say 'bury the word'
and all its associated negative connotations, others seek sanctioned consequence for its very
utterance. Perhaps not bad ideas if only there was a chance either would work. (Well, that-and the
fact that one of 'em would present with the inconvenience of running contrary to the Constitution)
STICKS AND STONES
Sticks and stones may break thy bones but, some words can getchya' killed.
But...getting killed is not the harshest consequence associated with this word. Getting killed belongs
to the individual while the 'N-word' applies to the collective. Attached to a single word is the legacy
of a great pain and profound sadness.
'It' is a word with great power and 'it' is not going to disappear anytime soon. If we 'bury the
N-Word' or agree it is a word 'nice people do not use', we have only cosmetically addressed an
ugly social blemish without confronting the malignant source of its power.
N-WORD AND THE NATURE OF HUMAN NATURE
The current protocols for the usage of the N-word by black Americans aligns true to the
resiliency of human nature. The adopted use of a word formerly used exclusively in a
derogatory fashion, motivated solely by race, functions to diminish some of the more toxic
associations through the mechanism of reflection
But what about the people of 'other' who are pained by the very existence of 'the word'? It
would be nice to 'bury' the word if only such an approach would work- it would at least have
the appeal of convenience.
In the absence of full agreement to voluntarily abstain from the utterance, the N-Word- and all
other slurs- senselessly elevate to an obstacle both real and symbolic. Meanwhile we seek to
explain why we do not 'talk' or 'do' anything about the things that needlessly 'divide' as the key
remains entombed within the lock of an iconic SINGLE WORD exuding countless inextricable
Perhaps it could be argued that the 'N-word' functions as a reflective marker relative to
the status of social evolution. From a word once employed almost exclusively as a
expression of senseless hate, the N-word has acquired new meanings and uses some of
which are socially acceptable in some situations. Mixed meanings and negative
connotations remain in the present inspiring us to inquire... Just what are we to do with
Most facets of industry, social affiliations, and religion speak in terms familiar to only those
within. While these words and phrases may discourage outside participation (for reasons
legitimate and otherwise), the criteria for inclusion/exclusion does not universally fall along
lines of race. Derogatory racial epitaphs do! And the 'N-Word' is King-of-the-hill.
out the n-word
who can say it
Mixed meanings and negative connotations remain in the present inspiring us to inquire... Just what are we to do with the 'N-Word?