there, i said it. i’m going to propose something that may get a lot of criticism. but here’s what it is — let’s stop saying “the n-word.” and by that, i don’t mean let’s stop saying nigger. well of COURSE i mean that. it’s a word that is so very ugly and filled with so much history and vitriol and hate. i hate the word. it’s one of the few words left that truly gets me upset.
however, as long as i’m not calling someone a “nigger” or a “nigga,” i see no reason why we have to reference this weird phrase (that everyone knows EXACTLY what it means) when referencing the *idea* of the word.
i realize one might run the risk of being heard by other people and accused of using the word to ill account. but, i just think i’m going to reference recent pop culture and use the voldemort example. in the potter books, harry refused to call his evil nemesis, voldemort, by the name that so many people used before … things like “the one who must not be named” and “you know who.” i think he rightly surmised that by living in fear of a word, it gave it more power.
there are those in marginalized communities who feel the same way and take it a bit further — claiming to ‘take back’ words like nigger, cunt, bitch, fag, dyke and whore. that’s up to them. most of those words i don’t like in any context, because to society at large, those words all have hugely negative connotations, no matter who is saying them or trying to make them mean something different. i think it fails in several ways, but especially since the people trying to claim them are marginalized in some way in the first place.
my point about the word nigger is this. it’s ugly. it’s nasty. it has NO place in polite discourse, and certainly no place in a community of people who seek justice, equality, and communication for all people. but, because it’s so ugly, i think if someone says it and we mean to make an example of them in some way (dictating that which we find unacceptable), i think we should say it — just like they did — so people can hear how ugly and shitty it is. not to weirdly candycensor it with some phraseology that a mom would use around her kids to save them from the language of dirt that they are nearly sure to encounter anyway — “the s word,” “the f word.” i think it’s more important to tell our kids what we’re not going to stand for, rather than dance all around it.
i am very willing to accept i might be wrongheaded here. but, i just feel like there’s something to all this “n-word” business that just fails to acknowledge how fucking unacceptable it is to ever use the word nigger.