- Books, Literature, and Writing
The En (N) Word and Paula Deen
Nigger. There I have written it. Was it hard? No. Is the word by itself bad? No. Is it bad if used in the wrong context? Maybe. Is it bad when used between black Americans? No. Is it bad when used by a white person and directed to another white person? No. Is it bad when the same applies but directed at a black? Probably, depending on the context it is used and circumstance.
The word creates a whirlwind of rules if one should use it. Because it is so complicated, just avoid using it.
In 1972, John Lennon released a single called, Woman Is the Nigger of the World, it was not his best song but the words stung. In that song, he saw that it was women who were the niggers not the blacks. He used the word as a replacement for slave and that women were the slaves. To John, the word nigger meant "the oppressed". Odd things happened then. The National Organization for Women (NOW) applauded the song because there is a broader definition of the word. Many radio stations refused to play it but some black senators indicated that nigger can be used in broader terms. It is not always a fighting word. The song reached 57 of the Top 100.
Now, in 2013, the N word is even more restricted by definition. Paula Deen used it once in 1986. At the time, she thought nothing of it. However, today the word has come back to haunt her because of a lawsuit. She has lost millions in financial backers because it is all about public relations for them. They do not want to be associated with a celebrity using the N word because people may not buy their products. In a sense, Paula has become a scapegoat for those overly sensitive civil righters. They are willing to prosecute and destroy any person who uses the N word, whether in jest or not at anytime in their past!
Is this insane? What happened to Deen's own right to freedom of speech? It got buried in the deluge of the word police. Why is it that only the black community owns this word? Only they can use it. This word was used long before it was exclusive to them. It does have alternative meanings than a derogatory term for blacks.
Yes, the word is heavily connected to America's use of slaves and how it was used to refer to hard working black Americans in an offensive manner. But, really, is it really worse than words of similar context like: wop, cracker, spick, wetback? I think not. Granted, the word nigger does have a much nastier sound phonetically. Even without knowing the history attached to it, one might suspect it means negative things. But, many other words do also.
The media has rushed to judgement on the Paula Deen N word. They have made it sound like she committed some sort of sin way back in 1986, when it came out of her mouth. She had no idea it may or may not offend someone because it really depends on who was around at the time, doesn't it? Also, in what context did she use it? Yet, there is little discussion about this just a rush to judgement-guilty-and sponsors flee from her.
I would be less forgiving had this been a recent event. But, have we all not said things long ago that we wished we had not said? Yes. Isn't there a Statute of Limitations on calling one a racist for using the N word in the past? But the thing is that if Paula Deen was black and said nigger it would be okay. There would be no media frenzy or focus on it. Sponsors would not flee from the celebrity. This is hypocrisy at its best. This is prejudice over word usage. Some might even call it racist.
There really are much more important things in life than this word. People are overly sensitive for a variety of reasons and they are all related to public relations, profit or revenge. The sting of using the N word does wear off quickly as the days past and real problems mount.
It's time to move on.