“If you can train people to demean and degrade themselves, you can oppress them forever. You can even program them to kill themselves, and they won’t even understand what happened.”
– Dr. Frances Cress Welsing
Now that the 2017 Black History Month is behind us, I want to take a brief moment to reflect on the N-Word. I have used this word for as long as I can remember. I use it negatively and positively. To be honest, it makes me feel empowered as a member of an exclusive club. I feel honored to be able to say something that no one else can say, except other black people.
I have often defended the use of this word as one of the few examples of “black privilege.” I argued that we really don’t have this level of power over anything else in this country. Why would we even consider giving this up?
“The N-Word is also confusing. We claim it as a term of endearment, while at the same time we often use it as a cuss word to tear each other down. No matter how hard we try to make it positive, its meaning and connotation are extremely negative.”
The more I mature in age and experience; I realize that the privilege of exclusivity does not outweigh the damage that we subconsciously inflict on one another. To its core, the word is degrading and there’s no getting around that fact.
The N-Word is also confusing. We claim it as a term of endearment, while at the same time we often use it as a cuss word to tear each other down. No matter how hard we try to make it positive, its meaning and connotation are extremely negative.
I don’t believe that the use of this word is the cause of any of our issues. But I think every black person would agree that we don’t trust, respect or encourage one another as much as we should; and that is quite possibly the foundation of all our problems. If we are serious about building a community of unity, we might need to stop sabotaging ourselves with the manner in which we address one another.