The N Word

By Tuesday Bowen

The N word. For centuries, it has been used for the purpose of demoralizing black people. The word was created in order to oppress and dehumanize black people. Today, it is still used for that exact same reason. Black people are the only race who have had this word used against them in this racist way. Therefore they should be the only ones who can utilize the word as it is a part of their specific cultural history. That is an important history that cannot be erased. If the N word were to be deemed acceptable for anyone to say, that would erase that history and ignore the fact that it was made to be used against black people. Allowing non-black people to use the word normalizes it.

For centuries this racial slur has been used to shut black people up and to keep them inferior to others. When the N word is used today by non-black people, even when not intended, it brings back the history of racism and oppression. It has a severe negative connotation and impact.

This is why black people have reclaimed it and transformed the meaning into a term of endearment instead of one of hate. Reclamation is empowerment, and that is what black people need. In the black community, the N word is never used with a racist connotation. It is used as another name for a friend or close loved one. That is how it has been reclaimed by black people and made into a positive word when used by our culture.

Black people have the right to say the N word because if they weren’t allowed to, it would just be another form of oppression against blacks. There is no reason why they should not be able to use a word positively that was once used against them because it is their history. Whether or not it is said with a racist connotation, people who are not impacted by the history of the slur cannot reclaim it. That is why the N word is for black people, and solely black people.

Although the word has been normalized in black culture and lacks the same negative worldly impact that it had before, it should not be used without discretion. While black people may have reclaimed the word, it’s history still exists. Everyone needs to remember that history to ensure we do not repeat it.  

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