Thursday, November 14, 2013

The most ambiguous word ever

       The word "Nigger" is probably the most ignorant racial epithet in America's history. But over time, the context of the word has changed. Well that's true, depending on what you look like. If a white person calls a black person the n word, he's automatically deemed a racist. But if a black person call another black person "nigga", he's just showing love to his "brother". Before we get into the formality of who could say it, we have to know how it was used in American history. In his essay "History, Amnesia, and the N-word", Darryl Lorenzo Wellington briefly describes how and when the word was used. The first written documentation of the word might have come from John Rolfe's journal in 1619. He referred to the newly enslaved Africans as "nears". The word even had a place in science. In the 1800's psychologist practiced "niggerology" which was determining human intelligence by observing one's cranium dimension. Around the same time, black began to use racist epithets to each other. The term "dirty black naygurs" was reserved for dark blacks, new immigrants, and lower-class blacks. By the middle of the 1960's the public opinion denounced the word. But the boycott of the word was sort lived. "Gangsta rap" in the late 80's made the word cool.
       In his essay Wellington gives two different perspectives on the word. One was that of Randall Kennedy. The free speech advocate believes "there is so much to be gained by allowing people of all backgrounds to yank nigger away from the white supremacist." By making the word acceptable to everyone, the negatively of the word weakens. It would no longer be an insult to black people. Kennedy described it as the n word being renovated.The other perspective that of Jabari Asim. He feels that the word is still a vicious stereotype. But at the same time its "just a word" used to fit in with a certain crowd. He continues to say that the word is "a surrogate for feelings of oppression, denial, and self-abnegation."
       My third essay will be a continuation on the topic on who can use the n word. This article works perfectly with my paper because it gives different view points of the use of the word. One wants to ignore the history of the word and the other wants people to remember the history of the word. It's also great because it gives a little history lesson.

Wellington, Darryl Lorenzo. "History, Amnesia, And The N Word." Dissent (00123846) 55.1 (2008): 112. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 15 No


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