[ View the story "The \"N\" word" on Storify] The "N" word The Stream speaks with Cornel West about language, race, and racism in the US.
The Stream· Wed, Feb 20 2013 09:31:22 General Disclaimer: This post contains explicit content and language.
Since the era of enslavement the "N" word has been used to negatively
people of African descent. Today, the word still circulates among some.
Tea party activists calling Obama the 'n' word as he leaves an elementary school outside Atlanta today, unbelievableJonathan Greer
After last night's marathon retweet session of people calling Obama the N-word, there should be no doubt the "post-racial society" is a mythYes, You're Racist
Some believe that adopting the euphemism of "N" word has
to a softening of the term, robbing it of the conditions that the word was imposed on slaves.
The word nigger has power. It throbs with so much hatred and history, that modern society subdues it with quotation marks, abbreviates it in a pathetic attempt to dilute it’s meaning or utters the completely ridiculous “n-word” just to make it palatable for the masses.clutchmagonline.com
In late 2012, Quentin Tarantino's movie '
' garnered significant attention from many publications for its
use of the "N" word. Beyond pushing this conversation to the forefront, the movie brought to light a debate about public reactions to race in modern society.
In the article below, author Rembert Browne discusses the use of the word in the film and in a multi-racial society.
Django, the N-Word, and How We Talk About Race in 2013Bryan Bedder/Getty Images 2013 is going to be incredible, if for no other reason than because this will undoubtedly be the year the cultu...
Twitter users reacted to the movie's recurring use of the word:
Is it okay for me to say nigger now? #Django #Nigger #YouSilverTonguedDevilYouEM
Are you black? Do you LOVE being uncomfortable in a theater full of white people laughing while Don Johnson says nigger a Bunch? SEE DJANGOYassir Lester
Some Black folk are mad b/c 'Django Unchained' uses the word Nigger over 110 times. How does one depict slavery w/o the word Nigger?Lamont Lilly
In the video below, 'Django Unchained' actor Samuel L. Jackson demands that the interviewer say the "N" word. The moments of silence that follow, one commentator
, shed light on societal pressures that may be responsible for apprehension about saying the word.
Samuel L. Jackson Insists Reporter Say N-Word in 'Django Unchained' Interviewhi5viralnews2
that black identity has moved passed any singular definition of what it means to be black. Some claim the connotation of the "N" word is changing.
In a way, the evolution of “nigger” parallels the African-American experience itself. Just as the word has gone through its own evolution, adopting more positive connotations and gaining popular usage, African-Americans have come a long way from the slavery that they once endured and continue to lead the progress away from unequal treatment. Just as the term “nigger” has been reclaimed and re-purposed as a term that denotes inclusion and shared understanding, so African-Americans have reclaimed their race for equality over the course of American history.studentpulse.com
Shout out my nigga @TheRealThoodMARCUS MSE/VVS BOSS
Stay blessed my niggaYoung Black Jesus
Here, late US rapper Tupac Shakur explains the difference between the two variations of the "N" word:
Tupac speaks on the difference between "Niggas and Niggers"gangu5kahn
Older generations have criticised using the term in a positive way. For them, the word will always
to an era of second-class citizenship. In the video below, Def Poet Julian Curry draws upon the era to argue that using the term today is still a form of oppression.
Def Poetry - Julian Curry - Niggers Niggas & Niggazkfc123
For similar reasons, philosopher and academic Dr. Cornel West believes there should be a moratorium on the usage of the word.
Cornel West, Tavis Smiley and Michael Dyson - N Wordselfexplanitory
Some have attributed the wide use of the word to the popularity of rap music. Songs like Jay-Z and Kanye West's "N****S In Paris" have drawn criticism in particular. The duo is known for performing the song
at the end of their concerts. The prevalence of the word in these lyrics has been criticised:
#ThingsILearnedIn2012 White people can say the 'N' word only while referring to Niggas In ParisHits Not Homework
'Jay-Z & Kanye West - Niggas in paris' making it acceptable for white people to say the word 'nigga' since 2012~jxmez~
In June, US actress Gwyneth Paltrow tweeted about the song. The ensuing controversy surrounding the tweet showed a split among the African-American community on the use of the "N" word.
Prominent US celebrities such as hip hop mogul
and rap pioneer
Paltrow's use of the word, but some African-American netizens felt differently.
Please shut up Russell. Just because you losers are giving out passes doesn't mean all blacks have too.You don't and NEVER will represent us. You've made it clear that you are a sheep.globalgrind.com
Nas sucks. How can you give Gwyneth Paltrow a pass to say nigga cos shes "real"? She's not real. Shes an A-list actress married to coldplay.yessir
Nas' new album is so good that I almost forgot he called Gwyneth Paltrow "a real nigga." ALMOST.Sean P of C.Spaniels
So I hear that Gwyneth Paltrow said "Nigga"....am I offended ? No...this is what happens when a song like "Niggas In Paris" become popularL*A*W
The debate between Gwyneth Paltrow's use of the "N" word is just one in a larger conversation about its overall use. Netizens from various backgrounds debated the usage:
I really don't have an problem with white people say the N*Word......I'm just gonna look at you weird and make you feel out of placeIG:Cobiewayne
#ImFromPeoria where white people use the n word more than black peopleZ▲C B.I.G
White people need to chill on saying the N word. Black people we been letting them think it's ok... It's not...BMADD
I thought…didn't we…let me check in. White people: you don't get to use the n-word. No. No, no. No- not…stop it. No. Never. Not your word.Jenny Grace
I hate when anybody says the N word to be honest..Bang$Bang$Naylor