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I’m Black and I Hate the N-word. Here’s Why.

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I’m Black and I Hate the N-word. Here’s Why.

Dankwa Nnoma-Addison, Staff Writer

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The n-word is used so much in African American culture, yet its place and use in society is incredibly divisive. It is used frequently in rap music and regular conversation by African Americans. The word is used so much that non-black people and musical artists think it’s fine to use it. Generally, African Americans use the word as a term of endearment. After students spoke about this subject at Meeting for Worship, and I saw that their views starkly contrasted with my own, I set out to express my perspective on this topic and gather thoughts from others.

Upper School student Begai Prom says that, “As a person, I feel that the n-word CAN be said by black people and CANNOT be said by white people.” Trevor White, another black student at SSFS, offers a different opinion: “My position is that it’s a bad word that shouldn’t be said by anyone regardless of race or gender, etc.” My parents, who are immigrants from the West African country of Ghana, agree that it shouldn’t be used. “It’s a negative word, it puts people down,” my dad says.

A fair amount of black people are fine with being called this racial slur. I witness it at school, and it has even happened to me a couple of times. Many black people even think it’s a positive thing. Begai lent her opinion on this perspective: “I believe that it can be something black people are proud of when it is used among black people PERIOD.” However, there are some who don’t enjoy hearing it or having it used on them, such as myself. Not all black people like it. Candice Ashton, Associate Director of College Counseling, says, “I understand why some people don’t like the word and choose not to use it. I absolutely understand why black people wouldn’t want to be called the n-word.” Upper School history teacher Jeremy Adkins agrees: “It’s derogatory, and it was used to make people feel ashamed and subhuman because of their skin color.” Rasha El-Haggan, our school’s Academic Dean, pointed out an interesting fact. She explained to me that, “I have lived in Africa for a number of years as a child. The first time I have ever heard the n-word was here in the United States, not in Africa.” One’s level of comfort in this situation depends largely on their background and their knowledge of and level of comfort with the other person with whom they are talking.

An important detail in this argument that causes much confusion is the use of the word by black people versus non-black people. The common perception among African Americans is that it’s okay to for them to use that word, but they have the right to get angered and offended when whites or other non-black people use it. Personally, I believe this is hypocritical. In my opinion, it seems contradictory to everything the Black Lives Matter movement stands for. Yes, I said that, and excuse me if I offended anyone, but part of me is not sorry because it seems like we as a race are crying for justice but undoing our efforts on a lower scale. The movement was built on the bases of equality, respect, acceptance, and social justice. The constant throwing around of the n-word paints them in a negative light, in a different light than some of them might want to be seen.

Another topic to address in this discussion is the n-word’s use in music, particularly rap. There are many great and influential rappers who have cemented an incredible legacy in the music world. Pioneers like the Notorious B.I.G. and N.W.A. had a message behind their music; even though the n-word was used, listeners might not be as offended because they understand its connotation in that context. Nowadays, since most rappers are black, they throw the word around as many times in one three-minute song as we say “like” in a day. It doesn’t seem like rappers have a message the way they did in the 90s; they just want to be cool. There are some exceptions, like J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper, but most black rappers don’t have as strong of a message in their content. Legendary rapper Snoop Dogg said about today’s rap flow in an interview: “That’s what’s wrong right now, everybody tryin’ to rap the same style… all them n*****) sound the same.” Ironically, he used the n-word, but he got his point across. Trevor commented, “It seems every black rapper says the word multiple times and it does give off the feeling that those rappers don’t care about their own culture. I personally think it doesn’t help that all these rappers say similar things, it’s harder to tell differences between all the ‘Lil’s.’”

There are many mixed feelings about the n-word, whether in our society or our small SSFS community. People are divided as is often the case with complex social issues. What is important is that people know everyone’s preference and not just assume it because they look a certain way.

I do not support, accept or condone the use of the n-word. I consider it to be wrong and offensive. I don’t care what background you are from, what neighborhood you live in; DO NOT use this word to describe me or talk to me in a conversation. I have been described using that word before. I bit my tongue and said to myself, “They don’t know. Maybe they’re just trying to respect me in their own way.” I accredited their use of the word towards me to their level of comfort with me and their supposed ignorance. I let it slide a couple of times, but I cannot tolerate this anymore. Maybe people are following blindly, or they think it will validate their blackness, but I will not concede to this. I will respect you as a human being and will honor your beliefs just as I hope you’ll honor mine, but many of the African American students who are reading this will probably disagree with me. I am a first-generation American with West-African parents. Using the n-word would be an insult to my mom and dad, my uncles and aunts who also immigrated here, and my dear grandparents, who raised their children in an old-school fashion. I just can’t see why people view this derogatory phrase as some magic word.

I am just as black as you, regardless of my views, how I speak or how I act. Being black is not a style, it’s a unique personality that only so many individuals on the earth are privileged to have. There is no ideal black person, so should we all have to feel one way about a word?

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About the Writer
Dankwa Nnoma-Addison, Staff Writer

Hi! My name is Dankwa Nnoma-Addison, and I am a sophomore at SSFS. I enjoy writing about school sports, pop culture, movies and TV, and thought-provoking...

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I’m Black and I Hate the N-word. Here’s Why.