What’s Up My ‘N’
March 9, 2005
Filed under Uncategorized
If I had a quarter for every time I heard the “N” word, I would be living large like the Williams sisters.
Unfortunately, the “N” word has transformed into a term of endearment for popular culture.
In today’s popular culture society, Afro-Americans have turned the “N” word into a chess game of power and defeat.
“It’s ours [the power of the definition] like FUBU, for us, by us,” said Barry Eggleston, second year Santa Monica College student from South Carolina who is currently the president of Black Collegians Club and also a communications major.
“It does not discomfort me to hear the usage of the ‘N’ word, I guess because I hear it so frequently,” said Dr. Carley Zanders, a counselor of the Black Collegians program for five years and one of the active advisors for the Black Collegians Club in the absence of Sherri Bradford, who is away on maternity leave.
“That’s my homeboy, that’s my friend, or I’ve got love for them – ‘my niggas’ is a remark of affection on the same level.” Both Eggleston and Dr. Zanders agree to the defeat of empowerment of the “N” word.
As a child raised in the city of Los Angeles during the ’80s, it is clear to me that the history of the “N” word is negative. And the current usage of the “N” word is a breach to our own self-perception as the African American race.
“As part of self development, it is a culture’s responsibility to know their power to impact people,” said Zanders.
However, the self-perception of the African American race and the assumption taken by other races can be extremely complex from one degree to another. “It depends on the person’s judgment who is in the conversation,” said Eggleston.
“Other cultures do not make the same connection with the “N” word the way we do,” said Dr. Zanders. “It depends on the context for which the word is used.”
In other nations, the popular message received through the media gratifies the “N” word as an acceptable communication tool.
It expresses acceptance or intolerance in relation to the context of its use, and to them, there is no justification for punishing the usage as a hate crime.
“The usage of the word is highly publicized by the media as OK slang,” said Joel De France, former A.S. director of activities.
De France, who is also from the South, said for example, if you took Eminem, a popular Caucasian rapper from Detroit, who knows that the usage of the “N” word would be intolerable by him; ultimately he is still a Caucasian male first and it would not be proper for him to use the “N” word, in fact it would go against his self-interest.
On the other hand, had Eminem been a rapper born and raised on the West Coast, it is highly possible that it would be normal for him to use the “N” word.
“It is very complex to understand the relation of the “N” word whether it’s ‘nigg-er’or ‘nigg-a,’ coming from other cultures,” said Eggleston.
When I see movies like “Malibu’s Most Wanted,” it makes me wonder, are they laughing at us African Americans, or are they laughing with us? This film was comically entertaining, but stereotypically disturbing. It fails to portray the correct views of all black Americans living in the United States. Overall, there is just not an accurate portrayal.
“I do not know if it’s their fault or our fault, or both. But we all need to take responsibility for the programming,” said Zanders.
“It’s not to the benefit of the networks to promote harmony on television and ultimately it’s the decision of the ownership.”
Nevertheless, if we perpetuate the usage of the “N” word, it may affect our opportunities because the general public greets the usage of the word uncomfortably.
“I would like us, as people to move to a place were we use other terms of endearment. The more you know about Afro-American history and understand the background – just as a word – it’s not the best word to use,” said Dr. Zanders.