|Actor, Michael Richards -"Kramer"|
The venom or the sting of this word is tied directly to its origin. The roots of the N'word date back to slavery days and it was always considered derogatory. White slave masters called their black slaves by this word. It came to be known as someone who is "lazy, trifling, and shiftless" which is became unduly associated with "black people." Which is completely ironic, seeing as though this country was built on the backs of the very people this word was used to describe. So you can see how the sting of this word would still resonate with black people today, many of whom were not privy to its use on the slave plantations of the South in the early 1800's, but still find this word offensive. This definitely speaks to the power of the word as well, because even though it is now used as a term of endearment amongst blacks internally within their own circles, whenever it is used by someone outside of the black race the same venomous history that it is attached to rises up all over again. So what are we going to do?
Back in November of 2007 the NAACP came up with an initiative to "Bury the N'Word." This march was held in Detroit, MI. Thousands of people joined together to help bury this historically derogatory word. Here's a clip of the ceremony:
Out of this ceremony was suppose to come a solidarity and unity on the elimination of this word from our vocabulary. This ceremony sparked a nation-wide debate about the N'word and its use not just from people outside of the black race but even from within our own race of people. A young man by the name Jonathon McCoy; who I had the pleasure of meeting a few months ago, started a campaign to eliminate the N'Word from the vocabulary of Black America. Understanding that the only way that we can see real change as a community is for us to eliminate its use and then every other ethnicity and race will follow suite as well..
Here is a clip of his speech called "The Petition"
This clip has gotten over 1 million hits on YouTube and this should become an affirmation for us as a people. I agree with Jonathon that if we want to truly see this word eliminated from the vocabulary of other races than we have to commit to not using the word ourselves. Although, this obviously is not an easy thing to do, because again this word is used quite often within our own community. From Hip Hop artists to comedians, even though the intent of its use may not be entirely negative but its always in "poor taste." One such comedian who is notorious for its use during his comedy shows, was taught an important lesson on tolerance when he was removed from a performance because of audience intolerance of his use of the N'word. Comedian Eddie Griffin; during a 2007 performance in Miami Florida for Black Enterprise Magazine, was booted by the magazine's long time publisher Earl Graves for using the N' word. According to reports Earl Graves received a standing ovation for the comedian's removal, which could have been an insight into the black community's rising intolerance of the N'word.
|Comedian Eddie Griffin|
Are we nearing the end of its use? Not sure. No one knows what the future holds for this word. But, I was always taught as a child that it's not what you're called, but it is what you answer to! So, you can be called alot of things by people, but it only matters what you answer to that makes the difference. I choose to completely ignore its use, inasmuch as not only do I not answer to it, but I don't believe it defines who I am. So, my interpretations is and has always been that any derogatory word is only offensive to those who are insecure enough to feel they are identified by it. It is a matter of personal preference, which is really what it boils down too. Because in the grand scheme of things, it is only when we make the individual and personal choice to eliminate this word from our vocabulary then and only then will be start to see a change. Mahmta Ghandi said something quite remarkable regarding this subject of change; he says, "we have to be the change we want to see in the world." This simple statement makes everyone accountable for making the change we want to ultimately see in the entire world.
My question is what personal changes are you going to make in order to see change on a much larger scale? What ways are you trying to eliminate the use of this word from your vocabulary? Or do you feel that it doesn't need to be removed at all?
Pastor Michael S. Nimmons