Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"N-Word"


After reading the article form the NYTIMES with our class today many different opinions came forward. What was something from our conversation you remember? Should the language in the Bill of Rights be updated? Why/ Why not?

Should using a word be made illegal? Do we have the right to use the “n-word”? Our resident scholar Corrie pointed out how this might have serious cultural affects if people are prosecuted for using the “n-word”; is Corrie accurate?

When something is legal is it acceptable?


PS. please read the US Constitution?

6 comments:

Edwin Genao said...

The "N" word is a bad word. I hear some students says it. I feel bad when they say it. I think it makes black people feel bad when they say it. They should have a program in to teach people not to say it. When students find out what it really means they should not say it.

In Bid to Ban Racial Slur, Blacks are on both sides.

Superfly said...

Legally, we all have the "right" to say the N-word. A word cannot be banned. Even a word with such painful and degrading implications. Banning a word would open the floodgates to so many other types of censorship by our government, only a few of which were touched on by Mr. Brown during class. To ban something like a word (maybe especially a word) would essentially undermine everything that we stand for as a country. In this age of idiotic or corrupted administration and rampant terrorism suspicion, our rights are being systematically eroded by the federal government. Banning words is just one step closer to the Thought Police and living in a terrifyingly controlled and monitored Orwellian society.
To return to the subject of the N-word itself, though, I agree with Edwin when he says that if students are taught what the word really means, where it comes from and what it carries; they won't want to say it anymore. While I did admire the way, in the article, they justified the usage of the word as taking ownership and changing the meaning of something that had been used to oppress a people, I still do not agree that you can just ignore all the baggage that the word comes with. And it does come with a lot of heavy luggage.
As per my usual, I'm going to tell a personal anecdote, one that happened right home in QHST and one that made me feel so painfully ashamed of myself that I gave up my future as a teacher, as an activist, and as a writer. I'm still trying to get over this one (even though I've since reclaimed pieces of my goals, my resolve is still fragile and shaky).
I was sitting in my habitual haunt (the third floor commons) with a book. And two freshmen kids from Emerson Community were sitting there as well, waiting for their basketball game to begin (or practice or whatever). They were sitting a talking, what else would they be doing? But every other word (almost literally every other word, this is really not an exaggeration) was "Nigga" or "Faggot" or such and such is "Gay". And they were loud, too. Yelling to friends who passed in the hall, acquaintances, each other. And you know me, I was freaking out. I couldn't handle sitting there listening to them talk. I kept leaving and coming back. They kept sitting there, chatting.
"Nigga"
"Nigga"
"Faggot"
"Faggot"
"You're gay"
And so on. And I didn't even say anything.
I wonder if they know what they are really saying. At the time, I wanted to scream. I wanted to take tem by their shoulders and shake them. I wanted to cry. A faggot is something you burn. Is something you burn and use to burn something you hate. Does he hate his friends enough to call them that? A "Nigga" (I cannot even bring myself to write it with an -er, I'm such a coward) is something you hate. Something you despise. Something you want to beat and demean and use. I think self-hatred is something that's been ingrained into minorities in this society, no matter how many times strong individuals call it "Co-opting" a phrase and making it empowering. We need to start using to schools to really educate people, use it as a true venue to explore and discover oneself and the world. What we have now, what I saw and listened to (again, I was too cowardly and so I cannot use the word Witness) is solid proof that the current system IS working. It is working very efficiently to keep the severity of our modern socio-economic castes in proper order. In order for some to be on be top, others must been on the bottom and so we have created a society, we have created the illusion of a public school system that's working in favor of all children, in which it is acceptable, where it is normal and favorable, for members of the same group to continuously disrespect and oppress each other.

I have more to say, but my brother has turned on some incredibly irritating and screechy cartoon and I can no longer concentrate.

Thank you.

vishnell said...

When the discussion first started I was like WOWWWW. I am around people everyday that use the word “nigga” and I even use it myself sometimes. I am sorry but I am strongly against the word being banned. I talk to friends that instead of saying "boy" say nigga. I hear that word so much that to me its referring to a boy or a friend. Growing up in Brooklyn I heard adults, kids our age, and even real young kids say it all the time. The word nigga to me has no negative meaning what so ever. Now adding a er and taking out the a to the word is a whole different story. I just feel the word nigga has come a long way and even black people hear it and allow that word to be said without being offended. No one ever gets mad at me for saying it.

It was so funny because on our way to work me and Corey decided to count every time someone said that word and the result was to many times. I spoke to Tamir who we all know and love about this topic. He said almost the same thing that we read Mos Deff quoted about nigga being taken and turned around to something beautiful. He talked about how he has white and Spanish friends that use it all the time and he is not offended.

Then I asked one of my co-workers how he felt and he simply shrugged and said so what I’ll start saying “nukka”. With him saying that had me realize even more that people no longer look at it as a negative word dissing blacks or being racist. It’s just a word we have become so accustom to that we use it on the regular like its part of our vocabulary. This world is not like it was a long time ago. Most of my generation is alright with this word and knows that it’s no longer a harmful meaning.

nyshee... :) said...

there is going to be a real change in the African american culture and how it's already label......i really dont think that it should be illegal i think that children and yonug adults should be taught the history behind it and why in the black culture we use the to bigger ourselves ......
the "nigga" is use in all cultures not alone african americans use it all cultures so i really do think that everyone should have a little talk about this word and how it's really being use today...

Peter V said...

Every word has a meaning to it and I don’t think banning a word is going to solve anything. There are other ways to approach this "problem" then banning the word. I remember in the class people were talking about how the word was being said a lot throughout the hallways. I think that after you said the word so many times its meaning eventually wears of. If people were more aware of what the word actually meant then people might stop using it. So the idea to have a program in school to help teach students the origin of the word is helpful and a better step then banning it. I agree with Edwin Genao, Superfly, vishnell, and nyshee.

zohra said...

Something that I remembered and noticed from the conversation was that the people who said to ban the “n” word were of color, while the ones who weren’t of color opposed banning it. I found that interesting because I saw how much the word could offend them when others use it to. I think the “n” word carries many meaning for all, such as every other word know to mankind. I don’t think the “n” word should be banned or you should get a fine for saying it because no matter the discrepancy of the word, it still is restricting and taking away freedom of speech, which everyone has a right to. I agree with Mr. Brown when he said in class it is a slippery slope because once you allow a group or any person to do something small, it can lead toward other things and snow ball into a messy situation about what can be said and cannot be said. I don’t think the world is one big class room where it has restrictions because you are free to do what you may in the world or amercica as many say, but you have to be aware of your consequences if you do the wrong thing. I think that actions and words are two different things, and if the society is based on getting penalized for actions I don’t think people should be penalized for expressing themselves. I think the “n” word has lost its true meaning as being derogatory because culture has changed and shaped it into being apart of it rather than something that is absurd. If the “n” word was the only word banned for color people, why cant the slur gay or fag be banned aswell if it hurts others, cant a gay person call themselves gay or joke around about it but others cant when they do it to them. I don’t think words or slurs should be placed above one another because of being sensitive tword one race only. Slurs and name calling has been going around for years, and I think if they want to start banning the “n” word, then they should get started on the slurs of all the races instead of one. I think its ridiculous and taking it too far for trying to be sensitive, its one thing to do it in a school building which is acceptable not to say it in, but once your in public or out in the world, you should be able to say what you want to. The whole premise of banning a word, any word is wrong and unconstitutional and I hope there aren’t going to be any more in the future because that might even lead to more censorship in society as if the news wasn’t enough.