The "N" Word

A Previous Essay I wrote:

The “N” word is the most loosely used word amongst African-American people. It also serves as an insult, term of endearment, and just another word to different individuals. The “N” word can be used as an adjective, noun, or even a verb. Everyone has their own outlook on the word, as do I. The “N” word may offend some people, but it I feel sometimes depends on the situation at hand how a person should take the word.

Personally speaking, I used the “N” word, but not as much as when I was a teenager. I tended to use the world on different occasions around different people. The reason is not because I see it is a bad word; I prefer other words like “man” or “girl” when I want to refer to someone. At times when I did use the “N” word, I was usually referring to one of my friends in an endearing way. For example, statements like “that’s my ‘N” or that ‘N’ over there?” Those statements show acknowledgement to individuals, the same was a person would say “that’s my girl or that girl over there?” I did not find it the word harmful at all, thus far I people have different outlooks on the word.

Not using the “N” word for the past eight weeks served as a test. For the first week I struggled to not use the word, but at times it just came out naturally. The “N” word slipped out mostly on instances where I was in a comfortable environment, like around my friends. In that type of environment, we would be just laughing and talking about various things going on in our lives or in the world. I would say statements like, “N, you are so crazy”, where I would be laughing with the person I called an “N” as they told hilarious jokes. I noted experiences where I called some groups of some people the “N” word to verbalize that some people did not know how to act. For example in a situation where there was a misunderstanding in the cafeteria, and a girl hollered at the employee. I felt that her tone and attitude to the elderly woman was unnecessary, and amongst my friends I said, “Why is she acting like a ‘N’”? Yet, I called her an “N” and felt nothing by saying it.

The past weeks after using the “N” word, I slowly transitioned to not use the word at all. I started to listen to other people use the “N” word, noting down how I felt about the word. Usually people use the word in a jokingly matter as they were among their friends, but never in the classroom or around professionals. The individuals, like I did, used substitutes like “girl” or “dude” instead of the “N” word. In discussions around my friends, I would refer to them by their names, instead of the “N” word.

Over the weeks, the controversy of the “N” word being used by people outside of the African-American community was a subject that I was really interested in. Not only do some black people use the word as a term of endearment, White, Hispanic, and Asian people use it also. Yet, I question myself if I can truly get mad at them for using the word and I condone the use the “N” word in the black community. Overall, over the weeks I spoke with various people of my age and older people about their feelings on the “N” word. Combined I have noticed the stiff lines between two different views on the “N” word, views that probably will not change.

The younger generation felt the “N” word was more publicized and discussed as such a bad word, when other cultures use offensive words to refer to each other. Mexicans use phrases like “wet back” or “spic”, white people call themselves whores, sluts, and scalawags. These words and phases are derogatory, and yet they are not publicized for its use among these communities. Yet, the “N” word is highlighted in the black community as a word black people should not use at all. We should not be limited when no one else is being broadcasted for their word choices.

Furthermore, the new generation feels that the “N” word has transpired into a new meaning for a new generation. For the past eight weeks I remembered how our elders fought for equal rights and to stop other races from calling us the “N” word including the “er”. Yet, the new generation disowns the negative meaning of the old world. A new and better outlook of the word has emerged and the “N” word became a symbolization of overcoming the oppression of that word, and realization of it just as a word. A word cannot take a way a person’s worth, dignity, or intelligence. The European people see power to be derived through control, whether through a word or through aggression. Accepting that you are limited to what word someone calls you, whether the “N” word includes the “er” or just an “a” at the ending, rests a personal battle inside that individual.


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