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It's not just a word

February 06, 2007|by OLIVIA MONTGOMERY

"Hey, what's up n-?"

What is the deal with everyone and their grandmother using the N-word?

I hear it all the time in school, in the stores, and just about everywhere else. I mostly hear it when teens are talking to their friends. I also hear teens use the N-word as peoples' names. All around school this goes on, and I just don't understand.

I would honestly like to know what the obsession with this word is. Is it cool or something to call somebody the N-word, as if it were their name?

According to Dictionary.com, the N-word is an extremely disparaging and offensive slang term meaning: "a black person"; "a member of any dark-skinned people"; "or a person of any race or origin regarded as contemptible, inferior, ignorant, etc."; "a victim of prejudice similar to that suffered by blacks"; "a person who is economically, politically, or socially disenfranchised."

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Looking back in history, people have marched, protested, and died so African-Americans would be treated as full American citizens and wouldn't have to be called that word.

So isn't it a little disrespectful to turn around and say "Hey, what's up, (you-know-what)?"

On the other hand, since time has lessened the impact of the word, people could just be saying it to say it, maybe saying the word to lessen the racial slurring. I've heard white people using the term in reference to themselves and their white friends. And I've heard black people use the word.

Why?

Many words change in meaning over the years. Take the word "bad," for instance. It originally meant naughty, as in the opposite of good. Later, it was changed to mean cool, so now it had gone from a negative connotation to a positive one. Is that what's happening to the N-word?

What purpose does it serve to go up to somebody and say something rude like that? Even in jest, what's the purpose? Why say it?

In my opinion, that word is not proper to use in any conversation. Even the definition says that it is offensive, and no offensive words need be used.

Honestly, I don't think that the N-word will ever be less demeaning. It has been a degrading word since the 1800s, but I haven't seen or heard any attempt by schools or other public places to put an end to this particular word. In fact, a lot of popular comics and hip-hop artists use the word as if it were acceptable, as if it were not a racist slur.

Do you want to be called the N-word?

If you don't, then don't accept hearing it. If no one does anything about it, nothing will ever change.

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