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The “N” Word
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Posted 8/18/09
The N-word is perhaps the most controversial combination of two short syllables in the English language. What are your thoughts, feelings, and opinions on this phrase and the issues surrounding it? Some people are offended by the N-word while others argue that it’s actually been made into term of endearment. To me it seems that most people consider this slur acceptable only when spoken by black person. Do you think that this double standard is altogether fair, racist, silly, what?

Personally, I think it’s just like any other curse-word. Some people find it offensive so it’s best just to avoid it out of respect for those individuals. Are they being irrationally sensitive? Well, they might be, but that’s life and that’s their right. I’m easily annoyed. People brushing their skin across tight fabric (like the back of a couch,) clanking their spoon to the side of their bowl, or making eating noises infuriate me. To be honest I really don’t know why. There’s nothing morally wrong or politically incorrect about these actions, but they bother me. So, whenever people are around me I request they refrain from doing such things.

Yet, to me this seems like common sense. I feel like a total dotard when I have to ask somebody to please not crunch-corn chips in my ear. It’s like telling somebody to clean their urine of the toilet seat, or asking your dentist to please not video-tape himself slapping you in the face with his penis while you’re under. (Cracked reference.) Have you ever gone to the movies and had somebody start gossiping on their cell phone in a nearby seat? Well, plain and simple this person is either an idiot or an arse. Either they’re too stupid to realize this is bothering the people around them or they don’t care.

The N-word, for me, is similar. It doesn’t matter why it offends people. The fact that it DOES offend people is reason enough not to use it. Now, I think that in a historical context it should continue to exist. We have no reason to erase events that are unfavorable to us. Actually, it’s quite important to keep them on record for other reasons. Yet, for daily use I would ask people to avoid employing it, especially in this thread.

Now, this being said I don’t see why this particular word is so much worse than EVERY other word in our dictionary. Some people say because it’s degrading, but think about all of the phrases we use on a daily basis to objectify women. These are certainly offensive but lack the level of taboo attached to the N-word even though they’re employed for the same purpose. Actually, sense terms like “whore,” “slut,” “a piece of tail,” aren’t commonly used to endear somebody and the N-word often is, I would argue that such phrases SHOULD be more offensive. Yet, you hear then used on public television all the time without any consequences. Throw down the N-word, especially if you’re a white talk-show host, and you’re going to pay. Literally, there are fines.

Now, you may argue that the hate in the history of the word makes it unique. Well, let’s explore some completely innocent terms and their origin:

The term Hooligan is derived from Houlihan. The Houlihans, of course, were a prominent Irish family known for causing trouble with British police by throwing massive drinking parties. The word was first used by a British newspaper as a derogative slur implying filth and drunkenness for the Irish.

Hip Hip Hooray is derived from the German “hep-hep.” Hep-hep was originally used by German shepherds while herding their sheep. In 1819, however, it became the rallying call for a game called “Hebrew Hunting,” in which people would kill the Jews who venture out of the ghettoes or leave their homes at night.

Bugger Okay, this one isn’t used as much in America. The word Bugger is derived from Bulgarian and was used by the Catholic church as a slur implying homosexual.

http://www.cracked.com/article_16967_8-racist-words-you-use-every-day.html

So, I don't think it's a reasonable thing to take offense to the term if somebody is using it innocently. Still, I know that people do and I know that we’re not always reasonable animals. That’s our right and it should be respected, we should respect each other.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4hVRxc-EIs-Make fun of me all you like, but I'm a Phil fan. In this episode the Dr. interviews audience members and professionals on their opinions about the N-word.
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Posted 8/18/09
This is part of the dictionary wars. The N-word is especially embraced by black people who see their race as a defining feature of their existence. It may be used as a term of endearment, but it's simultaneously a word that identifies race and excludes white people and others from that particular impiled relationship.
Posted 8/18/09 , edited 8/18/09
Actually this is a pretty good topic.

I don't care for the word myself, it just sounds so...unpleasant.

No one should say it, not even blacks. It just gives other races a reason to say it. Let a white person say the "N" word and the whole world would kick his ass. Let a black person say it and it's ok. A few months ago a Hispanic called a black person the "N" word and for some reason...he was still standing. It's amazing really.

I'm going to monitor this thread, just in case some idiot comes in, which they always do.
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Posted 8/19/09
well, i too have seen dr phil's show on the N word. i honestly wished he would have took the show seriously and i might have learned something, but he seemed to hire a bunch of comedians and turn the whole incident into a joke that solved nothing.

Gerneraly:

heres my take on the N word. IF your young, it doesnt mean a thing to you personaly.What do u know about slavery/ the discrimination your parents or grandparents went through during the slave times up til lthe 1980s really?I mean it was young people who turned it into a term of endearment in the first place. they were ignorant of the pain the word caused to the much older generations.


As for older people, they just want the word gone. it makes sense, they had to hear it in a time when it wasnt an endearment.Combined with the pain of death and discrimination, it doesnt have a pretty past to them.

i dont know how or why this split between the generations happened, and i dont really know where white people stand on the issue. America is a country chalk full of double and triple standards, thats nothing new, but i kind of believe to just use it out of the presense of the older generations just out of respect.
because to both whites and blacks who r young, it really is just a curse word like ne other.
peace over war
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Posted 8/19/09 , edited 8/19/09
errr i don't really get it.
aren't n letter?
Posted 8/19/09
I hate the word, much like many other people obviously. Being half black myself I've had my fair share of insults when it comes to the N word, and it pisses me off even more when I do hear other black people say it to one another without bother. I've never used the word ever to refer to myself or anyone else. I just hate the sound of it.

I can't really say I agree with you JJT2, when you say, 'IF your young, it doesnt mean a thing to you personaly,'. No. It does mean something, I know it sure does to me. Although I may not have had to gone through that heavy discrimination in the past, it still hurts when the word is used to seperate you from everyone else and make you feel completely alienated. Although I can say that I have never gone through some of the things that have happened in the past, doesn't mean that what happens now doesn't matter and that it doesn't mean anything to not just me, but others. And I'm not just talking about black people, but other races too. Although I agree that the people who still use the word so freely and casually now are quite ignorant in the way they use it, considering how much it inflicted the older generations.
Yei
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Posted 8/19/09 , edited 8/19/09
Paul Mooney used it all the time in his comedy, and his explanation was to use it so lightly and in a funny way takes away the power of the word and he wouldn't mind anyone using it (even white people) as long as it had the right intentions. My white english teacher said the word to us in class to prove the point that a curse word is bad depending on the context, so it's silly to censor things if you don't mean to be offensive. Some ingenious comedy came from that, like on the Chappelle show (the white N-word family lol).

But suddenly, after Michael Richards' racist rant at that comedy club, he said he realized it needed to stop being used completely now, along with the B word and any other word that is used to degrade people, regardless of the context of it's use:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqQKWSwlYHo

I completely agree with Paul Mooney. I really don't mind watching some Chappelle show where every other word is the N word, but I think now this idea of using it like that to take away it's power is not worth it because of how it still can be used to degrade people, so it's a bad word regardless of context.
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Posted 8/19/09

JJT2 wrote:

well, i too have seen dr phil's show on the N word. i honestly wished he would have took the show seriously and i might have learned something, but he seemed to hire a bunch of comedians and turn the whole incident into a joke that solved nothing.

Gerneraly:

heres my take on the N word. IF your young, it doesnt mean a thing to you personaly.What do u know about slavery/ the discrimination your parents or grandparents went through during the slave times up til lthe 1980s really?I mean it was young people who turned it into a term of endearment in the first place. they were ignorant of the pain the word caused to the much older generations.


As for older people, they just want the word gone. it makes sense, they had to hear it in a time when it wasnt an endearment.Combined with the pain of death and discrimination, it doesnt have a pretty past to them.

i dont know how or why this split between the generations happened, and i dont really know where white people stand on the issue. America is a country chalk full of double and triple standards, thats nothing new, but i kind of believe to just use it out of the presense of the older generations just out of respect.
because to both whites and blacks who r young, it really is just a curse word like ne other.
peace over war


Just because we didn't experience it personally doesn't mean we can't appreciate how tough it was. Even though you never see it on TV or whatever, we do talk to our parents and grandparents about their lives and experiences with racism, and appreciate the struggles they had to go through.

Personally, I only use the word rarely for comedic effect when I'm with my friends and family. To me the word itself isn't offensive, there's no such thing as offensive words, only offensive intentions. If it's used as a term of endearment then it's not a problem, me and my friends call each other bitches and sluts all the time because it's funny, especially when we see how bystanders react. But if it's used in an attempt to degrade someone then obviously it's offensive.

I don't think only black people should be allowed to use it, that kind of reverse-racism and hypocrisy displayed by a large portion of my race (if not most of them) is what makes me somewhat ashamed to be black, because it's mostly the young people that do it, and when people see me they often assume that I'm like that as well, which has caused a lot of problems for me. I think anyone of any race should be allowed to say it as long as they aren't saying it to insult someone.
Posted 8/20/09 , edited 8/20/09
But the word's main purpose IS to insult a certain people of a certain skin colour. It's a denigration, no matter what kind of intentions the person had when using it.

And yeah, I get what SeraphAlford means to say, and I have to say that I agree. Reverse racism is on the table, and it's sadly becoming all too common.
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Posted 8/20/09 , edited 8/20/09

ShroomInferno wrote:

But the word's main purpose IS to insult a certain people of a certain skin colour. It's a denigration, no matter what kind of intentions the person had when using it.


Words change meaning and/or gain new definitions over time. It's original purpose was to degrade people, but today it can be used for that and also in a friendly way. It's one of those words whose meaning is completely dependent on the context.
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Posted 8/20/09
The word flies out of my mouth 90% of the time talking to my friends. I kinda grew up with the word so it is like a bad habit. I believe it is only offensive when people especially white people use it. I agree with another poster there is a double standard with this word. As blacks are freely able to call a white person a cracker with no recoil but flip the script and you have Al Sharpton all over your arse. Like I stated on a previous thread the more we rehash slavery with these movies etc this situation will stay the same. I mean here we are after year 2000 and the word still holds effect, (if used with "n***er" not so much with "n**ga). I believe we shouldnt jump the gun anymore when another race uses it. Why? Because they will know no matter what the situation if they use it African Americans will get sensitive. Like hitting our weak point. We gotta make it seem like it is not even offensive anymore in order for it to die out.
Posted 8/21/09 , edited 8/21/09

Cuddlebuns wrote:

Words change meaning and/or gain new definitions over time. It's original purpose was to degrade people, but today it can be used for that and also in a friendly way. It's one of those words whose meaning is completely dependent on the context.


Quite clearly, they do. That's why etymology has become such an interesting field. ;)

Well, I know that it can be used for.."both", but in regards to the original historical use of this word I would never use it especially if hypothetically I was African American, because precisely this word was used to slander the existence of my previous generations. But I understand that it might be a form of rebellion, as in, depending on the context/usage of this word its original purpose loses meaning and gets replaced by an other, more friendly meaning.
Could it be that it's a form of how to handle the traumatic past(and still present) of racism affecting the lives of African Americans?
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Posted 8/21/09
My take on the so-called "N" word: I'd say you defined it rather well -- don't use it where others who are offended by it can hear it, and since the majority of the population do find it offensive, best not to use it regularly in public. However in a tight circle of like-minded people I believe it should be ok to use, at their discretion.

This word is a derogatory word. Anyone who says otherwise is simply ignorant. I don't care at all how the Black community turned it into slang; it is still ignorance to utilize a word in that manner.

The one thing I categorically disagree with, in general: The outright censoring of that word. While I agree with not using said word in public, there are many tv shows and movies that no longer get shown for no other reason than that they degraded the Black race, and it included the frequent use of the "N" word. Yes, these shows are offensive, but they are still a part of our history and should not be withheld from the general public for any reason. Bring those shows out into the light, see them for what they are, and move on. Some of these shows are very funny and entertaining in spite of -- and I'm sorry to say at times because of -- that degradation. Laughing at those shows will not change a person's feelings towards another race. We, as a species, are more mature than that! I grew up at the cusp of when the "N" word became verboten, and remember watching many shows that were racist. I remember enjoying quite a few of those shows, and it saddens me that they were removed from our library of media, no matter the reason.

I apologize if my viewpoints have offended anyone in this forum, but these are my honest feelings about this subject. Hate me, if you wish to.
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Posted 8/21/09

ShroomInferno

Could it be that it's a form of how to handle the traumatic past(and still present) of racism affecting the lives of African Americans?


I would like to think that, but the sad truth is that most people who use it 10 times in every sentence are ignorant of the history of the word, and only use it because it has become a habit for them, just like I still say "oh my god" occasionally after 6 years of being atheist because I grew up saying it all the time. I also use the N-word occasionally despite my opposition to using the word (not because of it's original meaning, but because of the reverse-racism attached to it) because I hear it all the time and it has creeped its way into my vocabulary.
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Posted 8/21/09

JJT2 wrote:

well, i too have seen dr phil's show on the N word. i honestly wished he would have took the show seriously and i might have learned something, but he seemed to hire a bunch of comedians and turn the whole incident into a joke that solved nothing.

Gerneraly:

heres my take on the N word. IF your young, it doesnt mean a thing to you personaly.What do u know about slavery/ the discrimination your parents or grandparents went through during the slave times up til lthe 1980s really?I mean it was young people who turned it into a term of endearment in the first place. they were ignorant of the pain the word caused to the much older generations.


As for older people, they just want the word gone. it makes sense, they had to hear it in a time when it wasnt an endearment.Combined with the pain of death and discrimination, it doesnt have a pretty past to them.

i dont know how or why this split between the generations happened, and i dont really know where white people stand on the issue. America is a country chalk full of double and triple standards, thats nothing new, but i kind of believe to just use it out of the presense of the older generations just out of respect.
because to both whites and blacks who r young, it really is just a curse word like ne other.
peace over war


I think that you’re accepting the popular myth that African Americans are not subject to intense discrimination today, and that African Americans are not living in a world very much influenced by slaver and the prejudice against their people. The Tuskegee experiment injected their community with sexually transmitted diseases, causing a serious epidemic. The bloods and the kryps are both the immediate consequences of slavery. So, even if they don’t live in the times of slavery the African American community still feels the whip-lash of servility to this day.
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