Friday Feature: N***a What?

The infamous “N” word. There are always at least two yearly occurences in media where the use of the “N” word is debated. The most recent this week, as John Mayer used the “N” word while discussing his dating/sex life with PlayBoy magazine. Mayer’s verbage has turned him into a “racist” overnight.

What does the “N” word mean? Does it still have meaning? Who can say the “N” word?

Merriam-Webster online Dictionry defines “nigger” as:

1. a black person
2.a member of any dark-skinned race
3.a member of a socially disadvantaged class of persons

There is no need to rehash how the “N” word has been used towards blacks since the 1800’s. The focus is on the shift of the meaning of the “N’ word from degrading, to a term of endearment amongst our race. A word that diminished our meaning and value as black people, is now a common term which many take little objection to using.

Below is a clip from The Boondocks episode “The S Word”, which highlights the double roles blacks play when it comes to what is acceptable use of the “N” word.

So what is it about the “N” word that makes its use by blacks so meaningless, but when used by other races, all power is placed back in the word. If the meaning of the word has turned from negative to positive for blacks, should we still become furious when people of other race use the “N” word? A noticable trait is blacks over the age of 50 are less likely to use the “N” word and will seemilngly forever view the word as adegrading. Yet, young blacks have incorparated the “N” word into everday vocabulary. Even current media feels the “N” word has no objectional value, as I have seen the “N” word used on countless television shows and movies. For those who don’t use the “N” word, are they more pro-black than people that do use the word? There are so many angles to discuss the use of the word, and given the history and the continually undefined rights of what is acceptable use, the “N” word is still the “uh-oh” word.

So…What does the “N” word mean to you?

By: Sarah J


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