Today, I'll join my youngest child's elementary school in Evanston for the annual Stand Against Racism sponsored by the YWCA. We'll walk to Ridge Avenue, a highway-like, four-lane strip running through our town, standing together with groups from throughout our community, raising awareness that racism still exists. If they pass out nametags during the event, I suppose I'll need three:
2) Community member
3) Member of the press (I write a weekly opinion column for Evanston's Patch.com)
I play each of those roles on a daily basis, and each one of them is touched by racism.
As a mother, I see teenage kids drawn to songs by talented musical groups dropping the N-word the way preschoolers flock to Goldfish crackers. As a community member, I see young men on the street and in stores, referring to each other as the N-word. And as a journalist, I'm forever intrigued by how this word ever made it way into mainstream culture. I'm a white, middle-aged woman and the N-word makes me cringe and always will -- no matter who says it or when. I hear teens say, "Relax. Blacks are allowed to call each other that..."
I'm not buying it. To me, the N-word is as racist a term as there ever was.
Dictionary.com defines the word nigger like this:
The term nigger is now probably the most offensive word in English. Its degree of offensiveness has increased markedly in recent years, although it has been used in a derogatory manner since at least the Revolutionary War. The senses labeled Extremely Disparaging and Offensive represent meanings that are deeply insulting and are used when the speaker deliberately wishes to cause great offense. It is so profoundly offensive that a euphemism has developed for those occasions when the word itself must be discussed, as in court or in a newspaper editorial: “the n-word.” Despite this, the sense referring to a “black person” is sometimes used among African Americans in a neutral or familiar way. The sense referring to other victims of prejudice, especially when used descriptively, as to denounce that prejudice, is not normally considered disparaging—as in “The Irish are the niggers of Europe” from Roddy Doyle's The Commitments —but the other uses are considered contemptuous and hostile.
1. Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive.
a. a black person.
What do you think? Please tell me in the comments.