It is ok for African Americans to use it in context between their friends. They may be careful in using it in public around others they do not know (especially if someone feels uncomfortable hearing the word). Is it ok for white people to use the word.... never!
No, I think that word is a no-go. I have heard black people using it. I think the idea behind this, is that by owning a word, which has been used to insult people down the centuries, that it somehow lessens its power. I suppose it it similar to many gay men calling themselves "queer." However, I think for anyone, whether black or white to use the word, gives some people the idea that there is nothing wrong with it, so it would be better for its use to die out.
Intent is everything.
Between black people, it's obviously not being used as a racial slur.
When used by a non-black person, it could be, so it shouldn't be used.
Our neighbors, who are black, have two sons. One is about 22, and the other is just a sweet little guy, 8 years old.
One day we heard them outside, arguing. The little one was crying, the older one was mad at him for whatever reason, and as he walked away from him, he called his little brother the "N" word in an angry voice.
It may not have been a slur, but it definitely wasn't meant to be anything nice, that's for sure. I felt so sorry for the little guy--why would his brother say that in such a tone, if not meant as an insult in his mind?
And this is a really nice family, who we had never heard anything like that from before, and haven't since. I know their parents would've been very upset if they'd heard that.
Personally, I think that it's a word that no one should use, as well as all the other slurs from other races.
Never is a strong and emotive word but used in context it is fine. Like it's OK to say never use the nigger word.
Greetings, Mosaicman, Thanks for your interesting post.
This word has no place in today’s society.
During the last two centuries, the word has morphed to symbolize an era, an institution, and a historic reality that reminds Americans of a past most would just like to forget. The word evokes emotions of resentment, embarrassment, insensitivity and ignorance.
But, this noun had a different effect two hundred years ago. It found wide use and acceptance as being politically correct on every level of society and in all parts of the country. Often heard in speech and seen repeatedly in print, it became woven into the tapestry of that era along with "buckboard", “half-breed”, "outhouse", “chink” and "spittoon". Common use made it a neutral part of the vernacular implying neither complement nor slur. It described everyone of African decent be they free, slave, or indentured. It did however, begin to add layers of bitterness following the Emancipation Proclamation and years of Jim Crow.
Would we benefit, I wonder, if those in the black community were more successful setting the example that they expect the rest of society to follow?
I think the word has been given different meanings in the different eras. In the 19OO's it referred slaves. In the 1950's and 1960's it brings up feelings and memories of segregation and the Civil Rights struggle. In the 1990's and 2000's, the memories are now driven to the younger generation and the multiplicity of usage (including affection).
I do agree that the word brings up different meanings and experiences to different people. I do not think the word will go away if Blacks model or set the example that they would like others to follow. Unfortunately, it would still be used by hateful biggots as a racist term.
Good food for thought; let's keep it going !
I mentioned in a hub that Mark Twain used the word 218 times in Huckleberry Finn. Recently, an English professor collaborated with an Alabama publisher to reprint both Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer in a single volume. The announcement sent tremors through the publication world when it was learned the new edition will replace the words "nigger" and "injun" with other terms more acceptable in today's society. Unfortunately, the intense hoopla swirling around these two words has diverted attention from another serious liberty being taken. A sizable section of the original manuscript is being re-inserted in total defiance of the author's decision to remove it prior to the first publication
If you are interested, Mosaicman, “Huckleberry Finn: One Word Does Make a Difference” is available from my profile here on hubpages.
Taking that word out of Twain's book is one of the worst literary ideas that I have heard. Would this give other authors the liscence to take out other racially charged words from other fictional books? We must remember these works of fiction have characters acting appropriately according to the time period in which the story takes place.
Society is gettng too sensitive if it is going to these extreme lengths.
I was teaching in an inner city.
The "N Word" has become a word in the AA community, and I was told that no one would care if I used it in the way that "they" used it.
Students would come up to me and use it like any other word.
It is never appropriate to use the "N" word. It is a demeaning, derogatory and racially degrading word. Because young people both african and caucasian Americans use the word when addressing one another does not legitimize it's usage. I have taught many young people who say that I don't understand why they call themselves the "N" word, or a "biotch" or many other derogatory slang words. I continue to say that a bitch is a female dog. I don't have to be twenty to know that letting anyone think that using a word with culturally, racially and socially negative connotations is inappropriate.
I pose a question to the author of this one. Is it ever appropriate to call someone a spic, a kike, a tramp, a whore, a pole, or a jew? Some words even though they exist never need to be used.
When I worked at a grocery store many moons ago, a couple of my boys who were Italian used to call each other the slang italian name. I however knew not to call them that word. I knew that was one of their practices in their immediate culture and neighborhood.
"Is it ever appropriate to call someone a spic, a kike, a tramp, a whore, a pole, or a jew?"
Well, you're mixing pejoratives in with perfectly benign words.
"Pole" is what you call someone from Poland*. It's an emotionally neutral, non-pejorative word that's perfectly acceptable in polite society. "Pollock," on the other hand, is what you call someone from Poland when you want to be mean to them, or what you call someone who isn't from Poland when you want to insult not only them but also Polish people in general. There's no need to use that word unless you're deliberately trying to be a jackhole. (or, if you're a Pole yourself, go ahead and "take it back." But not being a Pole, I'm not going to start slinging "Pollock" around.)
"Jew" is complicated, though. In spite of the fact that there are a bunch of purely pejorative words people use to hurt Jewish people, some folks still use "Jew" and "Jewish" to mean negative things. Maybe it's a way of 'hiding' racism in plain sight?
"Hey, it's not like I said something like k!k3, is it?" Maybe not, but it's clear that guy has a hate-on for Jews.
As for me, I'm a yankee and a kraut. But those words don't hurt me, because they don't carry much weight behind them. Nobody is going to not hire me, or pass me up for promotion, or beat me up, or railroad me through court on a trumped-up charge, or follow me around the store for fear that I'll steal something, or suspect me of terrorism because of my German ancestry or the fact that I'm from the northern part of the country.
I personally do not think it should be acceptable by anyone. If it is such a disgraceful word, why would it be ok for one "African American" to say it to another. Slaves that had to endure that word, I would think, would also take offense to another "Africa American" using in. It also amazes me that it is so acceptable in the music industry, yet if any other races is singing along to a song that uses it they are called a racist. If it is acceptable for a "rapper" to use it in their song, then it should be ok for me to sing along with it. (Even though I do not agree with it being in the song at all)
Honestly, it is not my place to decide what an affected minority does or does not do with the slur words other people use against them. I just know it is inappropriate for me, a white person, to use hurtful, bigoted language and will respect a black individual's right to decide what they are comfortable with.
To my mind, if I'm not one of the people a word was meant to hurt, I don't get to be the one to "take it back."
Do you all think too much energy has been spent trying to legally stop people from saying it? I remember Black leaders were trying to get a moratorium placed on the word in music, etc.
What about the members of the Hip Hop Culture who say it is used not as a racial term, but rather as a cultural term.
Has any energy been spent trying to make the saying of the n-word illegal?
I don't recall any effort to ban the use of the word itself, which would be an unconstitutional limit on free speech, much like a law against flag-burning would be.
There's no way to legally prevent someone from acting like a jackhole.
But when their jackholery amounts to harassment, then there's grounds for a civl case.
I remember Rev. Al Sharpton and company were pushing for a moratorium on the usuage of the word by black musicians, artists, entertainers, etc. It didn't work though, wasn't realistic.
I remember hearing Dame Dash (formerly of Rocafella Records) say he has Hip Hop artists on his record label that speak about reality. We may not agree with their reality, but it is what it is. People on their block don't speak eloquently. Conditions are sometimes deplorable. This is what they see, live, and hear.
Yeah, I remember those, too. They weren't legislative actions. Al & co were trying to get folks to agree not to use the word, not to forbid them from using the word. There's a difference.
I hear you Jeff. Point taken. However, as we see from this conversation, this divisive word has everyone split to one of the two sides. I am glad Rev. Al and Co. quickly put their energy towards something a different issue. The "N" word was the "hot button" for that time. Having everyone agree not to use it was not a realistic goal.
i think its embarrassing . more so when the words being used by blacks.
If someone called me an a&@hole, jerk, nerd, cracker, or any other offensive term, I am content to ignore their attack. I have learned that most people use those terms with either non-offensive motives, or true ignorance of me as a person. However I know that those terms can be hurtful to some people, so I am responsible to my own principles not to use them. We can not control the actions of others, only ourselves. If more people would control themselves and give more respect to other people, this would be a non-topic.
I believe the real problem lies in the fact that most people in today's society are more concerned with themselves and what THEY want. With little regard to others.
The word itself is negative, I do not believe it should be used at all.
Ha! the joke's on all y'all. It's just a form of censorship, a way to take away your freedom of speech and make you think it's a good thing. It's also a way to make people of different races feel very uncomfortbale around one another, afraid to say the wrong word.
End the hate; embrace the 'N' word now!
That's amusing. As for me, I'm not going to go around saying the n-word just because I'm free to do so. It's like, Hey, it's a free country, so I'm going to be the biggest jackhole I can legally be. Wooohoo! U-S-A!
I choose to try not to be a jackhole because other people are important to me. That is, I'm not a sociopath.
Also, do your really expect to "end hate" by encouraging folks to call each other nasty names?
If it gives you a sense of security to use it with bros, well then, suit yourself. Personally, I couldn't care less.
If one person can use the word, then that same person shouldn't find it offensive that other people also use the word. Plain and simple.
There are cultural words besides the "n" word that members of each culture may use when in intimate settings with each other. Although they may use that same word in public, they are not giving us the green light to use it.
Hi there Cag,
Linguistics is neither plain nor simple. One word can have many different meanings depending upon context, tone, and even body language.
Personally, I think that everyone should avoid using the word, white, black, or anyone else. It's derogatory.
However, for some years I thought it was unfair that African Americans could use the word and yet whites could not. However, someone finally explained it to me and it made sense. Their analogy was the word "bitch".
If young women hang out together and one says "hey bitch" then it's not terribly offensive. But if an unknown man walks up and says "hey bitch" that's extremely offensive. Now personally, I don't use the word "bitch" but you know, it still made sense to me and I got it.
Surely with over 400,000 everyday words in the English language there are other words that could be chosen to be used.
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