There is a weekly column in The Concordian called "Imagine...". It is written by MariLuz Diaz, the Opinions Editor. I think she's a sophomore. I'm not sure. In one of her columns she mentioned that she was an English major, I think. She's allergic to smoke. She wrote about that a month ago or so. That's all I know about her.
I enjoy reading MariLuz's column in the paper each week. I think she has an interesting perspective on things. I mentioned her column briefly over a month ago in my "Concord musings" blog. I wrote about how her column had the potential to be really good, but she just needed to find out how to successfully complain in an article. She's getting better. The only way to get better is to keep writing, so she's on the right track.
I was reading the Nov. 17, issue and checked out her "Imagine..." column. For those who don't know, it opens the same way each week. She starts with "Imagine..." and writes about a scenario and it leads into whatever her column is about.
[side note - I tried to find the article on http://www.cunewspaper.com/ in order to link it, but I can't seem to locate it anywhere. I don't know if it's temporarily missing, or was never posted, or what. If anybody finds it online somewhere, feel free to send a link. Otherwise, check out the hardcopy issue around campus.]
Close your eyes and imagine some rude people disrupting her lunch in the cafeteria. As Diaz writes, "I was sitting down to lunch with one of my friends, when the people at the nearby tables disturbed us. They were yelling across our table at each other, sometimes using the 'n-word.'"
She continues, "I am pretty sure that everyone knows which 'n-word' I refer to. This word truly offends me." She never mentions what that word is, but we're all adults here and can have a civil discourse regarding the use of the word "nigger."
Diaz notes the historical significance of the word, with some facts about slavery and even brings up that her great-great-great-great grandparents were slaves. To help her cause, she also breaks out the dictionary.com definition: "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." She uses this to illustrate that you're not just being offensive to black people if you break out the "n-word," but to lots of other people.
The main point Diaz makes with her column is that people are ignorant for using the word "nigger."
...Isn't the fact that you made it to college proof that you're not ignorant? And for a people who have been fighting against oppression and racism, why keep this term around as if it was a term of endearment? Your oppressors used it against your ancestors, and yet you sit around yelling it at each other like nothing.
I think if you can't stop calling each other racial slurs, then you shouldn't be in college. Our ancestors died for the right to be seen as human beings, not as slaves, not as inferiors, but as humans. And look at us, we're throwing it in their faces, and using it every day. Wake up people and think before you talk.
I'm not disputing Diaz' point, that this word has historically been a very offensive and derogatory term. Something that I feel needs to be brought up has been how "nigger" has developed a not-as-offensive connotation over the years.
I'm not saying that I feel as though Diaz is wrong to feel the way she does. I'm not condoning usage of the word. I'm just saying that in some instances the negative stigma is gone.
Urbandictionary.com, a site that is purely for entertainment, has the definition listed as: "1. describes an ignorant, uneducated, foolish individual regardless of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, etc. 2. endearing term between two or more individuals to describe a friendship or bond."
An endearing term to describe a friendship or bond. Urbandictionary isn't a serious website, but that is a legitimate connotation that has developed recently.
I wrote about this issue back in February. Musician John Mayer dropped the "n-bomb" in an interview with Playboy magazine. Click here to read that blog. Two of the three YouTube videos I embedded are no longer available. Mayer is asked about being accepted by black people, having a "hood pass." Mayer said that if you actually had a hood pass, you could call it a "nigger pass."
This is a hot-button issue and I feel like more attention should have been paid to the connotation, rather than the denotation. I don't believe the people that were using the "n-word" in the cafeteria were trying to disrespect their ancestors, but rather using a word that is slowly becoming acceptable in certain circles.
Do I think that's right? I don't know. Do I think Diaz is wrong in her opinion? No. She doesn't like that word and that's perfectly fine. Some people do like it. Are they wrong? No.
I feel as though this debate has now entered into that category. You know, where no amount of debate will really change any feelings about it. "Is 'nigger' okay to say" is now in the same category as "Should marijuana be legalized," "Should the drinking age be lowered," "Are abortions ethical," and so forth.
Thoughts? Anonymous comments are allowed. If you go that route, keep it civil.