The “N” Word


I cannot understand why African-Americans use the “N” word as a term of endearment. Let me re-phrase that—I understand but I don’t understand.

The convention says blacks can use the word with other blacks.  Black artists can use the word in their work—especially in the music industry. White people cannot use the word publicly or in the presence of blacks. I’m fine with the last part. I just don’t get the first part.

I am Jewish. According to the above logic, I’m permitted to use the word “Kike.” In case you were born yesterday, “Kike” is a hate word used against Jewish people in the same way the “N” word is used against black people. Now, here’s the interesting thing. Jewish people are not in the habit of affectionately calling each other a “Kike.” To Jews, the word conjures up bitter memories of centuries of persecution. Jews have been bloodied and beaten to death by angry mobs. Jews have been herded into ghettos. They have been burned in ovens. They have been treated as second class citizens.

Like African-Americans, Jews know too well the meaning of the word oppression. Jews, however, do not use a hate word to symbolize their freedom from oppression.

I do not mean to imply here that Jews are superior to blacks in any way. My point is, in my opinion, the common use of the “N” word by blacks, regardless of the context, causes collateral, involuntary, psychological damage on subtle, unconscious levels. The practice also keeps the burning embers of hatred and bigotry glowing simply by the mere repetition of the word. I strongly feel this holds true for any minority group that promotes a hate word into a term of endearment, or any other use.

I can’t imagine why a person would willingly associate himself or herself with a demeaning, destructive word. Is this an effective way to promote self-confidence and self-empowerment?

This is a free country. Anyone can do what they want within the law. I’m just saying, I feel African-Americans do themselves a disservice with their use of the “N” word.

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  1. #1 by joe@happyjoe.net on February 26, 2014 - 9:52 pm

    Interesting post. I think you’re right about the negative impact of making hate words common, regardless of the intent.

  2. #2 by Michael Hunt on February 26, 2014 - 6:27 pm

    I’m 67 years old. I grew up in an Irish-Polish household. While watching the recent Winter Olympics, I made a comment to my wife that the “polaks” were looking good in a particular event. She said you know the word “polack” is a very derogatory and insulting name for the Polish. Really, I said. I had no idea…

    • #3 by David Gittlin on February 27, 2014 - 1:04 am

      Thanks for your comment, Mike. I have no idea how to respond.

  3. #4 by john6333 on February 26, 2014 - 5:19 pm

    Meant to say, *Powerful* point.

  4. #5 by john6333 on February 26, 2014 - 5:18 pm

    Power point. I think it is promulgated by their leadership who make a lot of money on the racism business.

    • #6 by David Gittlin on February 26, 2014 - 5:44 pm

      I’m not sure I agree, John, but thanks for commenting.

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