The N Word By Emily Bernard Essay

The N Word By Emily Bernard Essay

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What does it mean to say the “N-word” both it in its original form, or as the “N-word’, and what is the context for the impact which occurs when it leaves the mouths of blacks and or whites. I begin with a look at ‘Teaching the N-Word” by Emily Bernard, she is a 30 year old African American professor who teaches at University of Vermont which happens to be a predominantly white institution. She works alongside her husband, a white man, who is also a professor of African American History ; her brother writes for The Source and urges her students to think about the ways in which the “N-word” is used in pop culture. The students in Emily Bernard’s honors literature class must question the effect of the n-word on black people and just as importantly their own personal relationships with the word and the dark underbelly of anti-black racism. Bernard pushes her students to utter a word she finds offensive in an attempt to see how far she can make them go but also causing them to think about the implications and meaning saying this class, especially in front of their female Black professor.
In our History 265 class, we too talked about the intrapersonal relationships with the “N-word” and our feelings surrounding it. We have heard it used but rarely in its original form. The “letter-a” version, “nigga” is used most often, cleverly denoting the harsh “r” that
the Ninth Circuit Court described as “the most noxious racial epithet in the contemporary American lexicon.” … “the [N-word] as applied to blacks is uniquely provocative and demeaning and there is probably no word or phrase that could be directed at any other group that could cause comparable injury” ( Kennedy 1). In federal courts around the nation it was used to exemplify the d...


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...Is it okay when NWA does it? The group represents a middle finger to the establishment, to cops, and to the poverty that enraptures their world of drugs, sex, and being black. What does it mean when Quentin Tarantino does it vs. Spike Lee? Who owns it and why would they want to. Is it to be the cool white guy or to establish, similarly to Eric in Bernard’s office explained in reference to the word “Queer”, a reclamation of a once toxic racial slur. The work which we do to unpack the intersectionality of race, class, gender, and its implications as reflected on the use of “the N word” makes us think why we shouldn’t talk about it in class? Should we go so far as to utter it like Bernard urges? That jury is still out on that one, but until then the “N-word” will permeate our world both as a word to never be utter and one that can be called out on the street.










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