N word

Yes, that word.

The complexity of that one word, which likely gained it power and origins in the slow, slurred speech of the deep south a hundred years ago, continues to roil the culture of both whites and blacks.

Is it offensive or not?  Recently, a pro athlete (black) was castigated for using it, and promptly defended by fellow black athletes as using it in an acceptable manner within the black community. A few even defended a white athlete using it in texts to a less experienced black colleague.

The time has come to eliminate it.  It is a term of hatred, of usurped power and position, of historical animus. It is uniquely powerful in ways almost no other term is.  It has no redeeming value; even Redskin has a better connotation that it does.  And yet, it is defended by some as an acceptable, affectionate term within the community while castigating those outside the community for using it. No other group has tried to both condemn and co-opt such a term.  Hispanic, Italian, Jewish, Arab, handicapped….none of them are using their derogatory term within their community, much less defending their right to their own use of the term.  Should a father really call his son “my little n—” as noted columnist Micheal Wilbon said his father called him, and he would call his son?  There is nothing affectionate in that term.  At best it hearkens back the patronizing domination of the slaves by the plantation masters.  At worst it recalls the bile producing violence of the KKK and mass lynchings at the start of the last century.

Embracing that term is cultural degradation.  There is nothing positive about the term. It’s use  within the black community drags down the community to the lowest common denominator, just as it’s use in the white community is a lowering of the community standard while perpetuating the history of racism and hatred it conveys.  In in era where political correctness requires us to refer to mail-persons, chairpersons, mobility challenged, etc. it is a throwback in the worst way to days of race relations.  Does their embracing the term give them power over it?  I submit no, that it only perpetuates a term guaranteed to ensure that healing and closure in either society never occur.  Worse, it brings that same patronizing, depreciating tone to their own community relations and communications, to the detriment of all.

It’s elimination from our language, from society, and from our attitudes, can not come soon enough.

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