The N-Word Debate

Photo courtesy of echoes71

To some people, the N-word (the one that ends in an “a”) is a term of endearment, especially when used by black people. But it  can also be used as an insult. So since the N-word is very popular and it seems to be accepted in pop culture, is it okay for someone of another race to use the word?

Some argue that “if black people say it all the time, why can’t I?” That is not a valid argument because not ALL black people like that word. You may hear it in a lot of music and comedy shows, but that is just a small percentage of blacks.. Oprah Winfrey has discussed her dislike of the word on many occasions. She even had a debate with Jay-Z about it when he was a guest on her talk show. Reverend Al Sharpton even held a funeral to bury the N-word. To say that black people use the word all the time is false, and it’s grouping all black people in one category.

I had a conversation with a white friend of mine who thinks as long as you don’t say the whole word black people shouldn’t be offended. I guess he meant that as long as you don’t say the “-er” at the end, then there shouldn’t be any harm done. I explained to him that not all black people are okay with ANYBODY using that word, so someone of a different race should definitely be cautious.

When someone of a different race says the N-word the following may occur:

1. The black person doesn’t care, and may consider the other person to be their “N-word,” so it’s not a big deal.

2. The black person assumes the other person is a racist.

3. The person who says the N-word can get cursed out or get knocked out (I have seen this occur back in high school and it wasn’t a pretty sight.)

I think other races feel comfortable saying the word because their friends use it around them all the time without thinking, or they hear it in their favorite songs.  Even though the word seems to be widely accepted now, it comes from a very harmful place. The N-word originates from slavery and it was used to demean black people. It is a very sensitive and highly controversial word. I understand that other races may not understand the full context and history of the word, but that’s more the reason to not use it. If I know that a whole group of people are uncomfortable with a word, I would stop using it immediately out of respect. The best way to end the confusion is for everybody (even black people) to stop using the word; it causes too much hurt. But since the word is so popular now, I doubt that it will go away anytime soon.

Lola Odejobi

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