Nigger

670 Words3 Pages
When I read and say nigger, I feel defective. Whites feel uncomfortable, sick, and anxious when they say it. I feel nothing. It is a word, I told my dad after he found my reading list for this class. Why should I lower my voice or be ashamed if I’m not using it derogatorily? My father sighed and tried to explain. He did not answer my question. Why? Any word can be used in a demeaning manner. If a man shouted “Hey, woman, go back to the kitchen where you belong!” it would have the same effect as if he said lady in the place of woman. I brought this idea to one of my friends, and asked her what she thought. She echoed my thoughts. “If I sneered at someone and called them a filthy peanut butter-cracker-jack-bucket, and got others to say it to a group made of the similar people I originally harassed, it would become a slur.” It is an interesting point. Words become epithets when they are used as such. If they are used to verbally attack individuals of a specific group, the words become hateful. They pejorate, and, after decades and decades of us, are banned. Nigger has undergone the same procedure. The word derives from the Latin niger, a word that means nothing more than the color black. It was meant to describe a group of people who were different than the whites that “found” Africa. It became the slur it is today after it pejorated to be a word “used by people who are not black as a hostile term of abuse or contempt” (Oxford Dictionary). It was from that point (1775) on that nigger was a cruel word. Nigger gets a bad rap from this pejoration. I understand that it was used to dehumanize a group of people, but so are other words. Faggot, cunt, or paddy (Irish) are words that are used negatively and yet we... ... middle of paper ... ...make you sound “cool” is the way to go about it. What would it achieve? Nothing. The word would neither pejorate nor ameliorate. I want derogatory words to retain their power or loose it and become a word of empowerment. Making it cool does not do that. Cool things fade in and out of the contemporary world. In the nineties, saying dawg was cool, and in the early two-thousands, it was cool to say sweet to mean cool. That is not necessarily the case today. Saying nigger should not make you cool. It shouldn’t make one a racist either, unless it is used to dehumanize. If we as a society want to move passed issues of race and enter a colorblind world–whatever that means–we need to say the word as a word, make it available for all groups, or eliminate the word completely, though the latter will not be beneficial in the long run, as we cannot run from our past.

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