Should the N word be used when it’s in literature? An Editorial

Victoria Adusei, Writer

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Unleashed welcomes editorials from all students. If you feel strongly about an issue, please share your ideas with us @unleashed.bancroftschool.org. Comments and response articles are encouraged.

I don’t think the N word should be used in any context. In music, in books, nothing. Why? Because this word is the gatekeeper to the history of hundreds of years of slavery, of segregation, and of police brutality, just to name a few examples.

I read an article on the Hechinger Report named “Good Teachers Use The N-Word”, and it talked about how teachers needed to use this word in order to have their students understand the significance and the history of it. The author of the article used examples like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to explain how Mark Twain used the N word ¨219 times¨ to shed light on white supremacy. Now, I understand what he was saying in this article. And as I kept reading it, I began to feel badly about the fact that I had talked to my own English teacher about how the use of the word in Their Eyes Were Watching God made me feel really uncomfortable. I had asked if we could skip over the word if it showed up again as we continued the rest of the book. My teacher was using this word in an educational format (so don’t think I’m here to talk badly about my English teacher) so he could have us understand the significance and the power of the word. But after I thought about my talk with my teacher, I realized that I shouldn’t feel bad at all. Because my school — and more specifically my grade — is a predominantly white setting, it was hard for me to find someone of my same background to discuss my problems with. From past experience, I know that it’s comforting when you have people of your same background to talk to about certain issues. Also, the N word affects me personally due to the fact that this word was used towards African American people throughout history. Now I understand why many teachers feel as though using the word in this educational way will help remind students of the history of the word, but I think that we also need to consider the setting in which the word is being taught. Now if you, the student, are in a classroom where you are the only black individual, hearing this word can be very hard for you. This also depends on the black student and how they feel when the word is said.

From my perspective, this word served as a constant reminder of what African Americans went through back then and today and there is no way any time soon when I could ever come to terms with this word and this history.

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