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Different Views on the Use of the N-Word

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Bill Cosby, Chris Rock and Gloria Naylor have something in common; they are African Americans but the difference between these three individuals is that they have different views and opinions about the N – Word being used in this day and time. The word nigger has been used as a hurtful racial slur and used toward discrimination. Cosby, Naylor, and Rock have all been around the time when the N-Word was used to belittle and hurt African Americans. On Meet the Press, Cosby was on the show discussing his book Come on My People and telling the people of America, and different countries that nigger, should be eliminated and not be used by whites or in the black community. Rock had a different opinion of the use of the N- word. On Inside the Actors Studio, Rock discussed the N- word is appropriate to use in the black community because if used in the right hands, then it becomes poetry and art, but if nigger is not used in the right hands, then it can cause harm to someone. Also, Naylor had a similar opinion discussed in “A Word’s Meaning.”

She explained the nigger is an offensive term if used in the wrong way, but that same offensive term can mean other definitions that are acceptable and not harmful to others. Rock and Naylor use of the word is appropriate because the word is another form of art and new meanings in plural and even singular form. The N- word is a derogatory word that is used to offend damage and cause pain to color skinned people but the word demonstrates triumph, victory, new meanings and change from the past to the present, therefore nigger should be used and not eliminated like Bill Cosby desires. Rock explains that it is appropriate for African American, or colored skin people to use the N- word as long that it is not hurting, harming or even used to damage someone’s feelings and self-esteem. When Rock says “They gave us the scraps and we made into cuisine” this demonstrates that African Americans took a word that was meant to damage and kill, but instead the blacks are throwing the oppression back at the oppressor. This means that white people tried to hurt the black community but instead blacks are still using the word therefore throwing the word back in their faces.

As Naylor discussed in “ A Word’s Meaning” “The people in my grandmother’s living room took a word that whites used to signify worthlessness or degradation and rendered it impotent” (399). This also shows that many African Americans prove that this word is not powerful any more, also throwing the word back into the white people faces. Naylor explains that there are different ways the N- word is use within the black community in a non-hurtful way. For example, “In the singular, the word was always applied to a man who had distinguished himself in some situation that brought their approval for his strength, intelligence or drive” (398). This indicates that the word means that the black person is doing a good job, and the word is used in a positive way not in a negative way. Chris Rock also said in the right hands the word can be turned into art and turned into poetry. This brings triumph and success because African Americans took a word that was meant for evil, changed history and ended discrimination and changed the meaning of the word to different non hurtful meaning. Naylor and Rock use of the N-word is appropriate because nigger has its place in language and culture.

Bill Cosby disagrees with Naylor and Rock and believes that the word nigger should be eliminated from the vocabulary of blacks and whites. Cosby points out that the word nigger puts down and undermines black people. Nigger is a derogatory word and a vile symbol of our oppression by slave masters (Bill Cosby) because of that, the word would never be or become positive. The word being positive or negative does not make it enough reason to not use the word because the word shows the past but how blacks triumphed and became who we are they are today. The N- word carries hurtful history but with the word being abolished, no one can see in the future the victory and change from the past to the future. In the present the word does not carry the same meaning. Instead the word carries change, from being used in a racist prejudice way to not meaning or having racial relations.

The word will never be erased but the context and meaning can always be changed. The N- word should still be used because the word is just another word that is not damaging or hurting anybody if used in the right way. The word brings success and victory, coming from the dark and into the light. The word was used for racial discrimination but now, racial discrimination is over, the word does not have to mean a racial slur anymore. The word can hurt but also the word does not have to bring hurt to anybody. If the N-word was eliminated from the vocabulary and not used, then the history of the word be eliminated, as well and then the future generations does not know the past of African Americans overcoming an awful time in history. Nigger should be used as long it is not used in a hurtful way, or in its old meaning as being as a racial slur, but in a friendly conversation in the blacks, whites and all the races communities in the world.

Works Cited

Bill Cosby-Come on People! Meet the Press. 11 Jan. 2009. YouTube. Web. 31 Aug. 2011. Chris Rock View on the N Word. 4 Sept. 2007. YouTube. Web. 31 Aug. 2011. Naylor, Gloria. “A Word’s Meaning.” The Short Prose Reader. Eds. Gilbert H. Muller and Harvey S. Wiener. 12th ed. Boston, McGraw-Hill, 2009. 396-404.

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