Real Talk Q&A: Why Are We Still Using The N-Word?
1 year ago
“The N-word is probably one of the words that every black person who was lynched heard themselves called just before they died.”
Between the Common-Maya Angelou beef and the white rapper controversy, the N-word has been in the news a lot lately. But why, at the close of 2011, four years after the NAACP buried the racial slur in a Detroit cemetery, are we still debating the appropriateness of the N-word? For this installment in our Real Talk Q&A series, we turned to Stefanie Brown, National Field Director and Director, Youth and College for the NAACP, to discuss the difference between “er” and “a” and why it’s important to remember our history:
What is your opinion on the N-word?
Growing up I never heard the N-word in my house or really even remember hearing it said by those around me. My first recollection of the word was hearing it used in reference to the way white racists used it against black folks in the past; needless to say, I’ve never had a good opinion of the word.
Why do you think we are still discussing the appropriateness of the N-word in 2012?
I really don’t believe that the use or non-use of the word is cut and dry. If you’ve grown up hearing everyone around you and all throughout the media using the word in what appears to be a non-negative manner, you’re not going to just stop saying nigga. You can’t just have a symbolic funeral for the word and think that people will stop using it. It also doesn’t help matters that many younger people are getting farther and farther removed from knowing their history—just look at states like Texas that are trying to remove Black and Hispanic history from their K-12 textbooks. I’ve always been interested in knowing what effect the word nigga/nigger has subconsciously on those who say it and those who hear it.
(MORE: Don’t Blame Eva Hoeke. Blame Us)