My name is James Crosby and I am an Eastern Michigan student at the moment studing
African-American culture. Recently for our first assignment we had to bring in an
article with something relating to the African-American culture. I decided to find
one on what the teacher made a comment about in class. That being the use of the word
nigger by Eminem in some of his songs and if it is alright.
This in itself is not important nor the article I found. It was what I discovered
in the process that I found interesting that I shared with the class. I wanted to
find some information and get different opinions on the use of the word, so I was
going to put in the actual word into Google and see what I would get. But wait! There
are people around and the thought of any one seeing one my screen the word nigger
in anything but the lowest font regradless of its academic nature seemed to scare
me into instead putting in the phrase "the N-word." I poked around and found a few
interesting points and ideas until I came across an online article about a writer
whose employer would not let them print the word nigger in their article regradless
of the fact that it was a speech made by a former president.
This gave me the idea of how the media and everyone else is trying to simply erase
this vile term. So I used Google to search as to how many responses i could get for
the phrase "the N-word" and came up with a total of 110 million. The total for the
actual word nigger was only 2 million. I thought that this information was interesting
and decided to share it with the class. I have to say that even myself, not racist
in the least bit, was a little nervous about bringing up this issue with an African-American
teacher and a class with only three white people. But in the name of knowledge I opined
and was shot down.
"I hate that word!, I hate that word!....don't ever say that word...don't ever say
that or bitch or hoe or someone will get beat down." She made it clear that in her
opinion no mention of that word is appropriate. I in my opinion disagree. Perhaps
it is my subjectivness of being white but I think it is childish to simply erase a
word like that. I felt even a little childish having to say "the N word" in class,
even in this kind of academic setting.
My opinion is that words convey meaning and that one meaning of that word is very
negative, but by simply erasing the word out of print or mouth does nothing to the
underlying issue of racism. What I proposed to her is that it makes more sense to
change the meaning, do more adopting of the word, morph it into something positive
and it will be a slap to the face to racists. Erasing it is just avoiding the issue.
Not that he is the best person to quote but Tupac once said that the word Nigga means,
"Never Ignorant, Gets Goals Accomplished."
That is in my opinion a step in the right direction not an improper word use. That
is the spirit of non-violence standing up and saying that your words cannot harm me.
You cannot fight racism by avoiding it and erasing its vocabulary because there will
always be another word. The laundery list of offenesive words against darker skinned
people should attest to that. I could go on forever but I think that is enough. Where
you come in is that i was hoping that i could get some other peoples' opinion on this.
Thank you for your time.
Eastern Michigan University
-- Jan. 14, 2006
BACK TO LETTERS