The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t and Why-by Jabari Asim


In 2003, Randall Kennedy’s book Nigger started an intense conversation about the use and implications of that epithet. The N-Word moves far beyond Kennedy’s short, provocative book by tracing the symbiotic growth of the n-word and racism in America over the past 400 years. Charting this parallel track reveals how the slur has reflected—and enhanced—bigotry. Asim pinpoints Thomas Jefferson as the source of our enduring image of the “nigger.” In a seminal but now obscure essay, Jefferson marshaled a welter of pseudo-science to define the stereotype of a shiftless child-man with huge appetites and stunted self control. Asim then reveals how nineteenth-century “science” colluded with popular culture to amplify this slander. What began as false generalizations became institutionalized in every corner of our society: the arts and sciences, sports, the law, and the streets.

 Here is a recent interview that Asim did on WUSA channel 9 news. Video


3 Responses

  1. NS, I recently read an article where African-American students at a Black college were calling each other “coons” as a term of endearment! Damn!

    “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

  2. […] my initial thumbing, I’m very impressed. Here’s more on […]

  3. Instead of trying to abolish a word, we’d be better served by promoting the use of and belief in a positive ‘N’ word such as Negritude. A bad habit is easier to erase by simultaneously replacing it with a good habit.

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