Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The N Word (or racism through the generations)

On MLK day earlier this month, I saw on Twitter someone had posed the question: Are we living Dr. King's Dream? It got me thinking. (I even stole the idea & posted it myself! Don't tell) :) Awhile ago when my Book Club was reading the book The Secret Life of Bees, which is a really good book BTW! I also bought the movie based on the book to watch during that time. And watching the movie brought up a family discussion, one we've had a few times throughout the years, a conversation regarding the "n" word.

I remember when my boys were younger & I heard that word come out of my oldest son's mouth. I immediately stopped them & let them know they are not allowed to use that word. It's bad. He had picked it up from his black friends. And wanted to know, why was it bad if they we're using it themselves? And if rappers use it in their own songs. I explained it to them like this: You call your brother names sometimes, like idiot, jerk, etc. don't you? (they of course had to say yes) But, if you were to hear someone else call him those same names, you would stand up for him & make them stop, wouldn't you? (again it was yes) We'll if black people choose to use that word, that is their right. But, when anyone outside of their race uses it, it is degrading. It's only used to make the person using it feel superior & to make the person it's used against feel inferior, or "less than" and why would you ever want to make someone feel that way? For the first time they understood, and have never used the word again.

Books and movies set in that time period when people didn't know better is still hard to take. My son asked his father & I while watching this movie, if we had ever heard our dads use that word. And unfortunately we both had to say yes. Though it was when we were both children, and not in recent years. But I explained to my son; Our parents generation didn't know any better. Our generation learned better! So Your generation can just Know better!

We had a similar conversation on this topic when they had to read Huckleberry Finn for school. On The View recently they were talking about how there is a movement to remove the n word from the book. It is very hard for me to read that word, but like Whoopie Goldberg said on The View, I don't know how I feel about people taking Mark Twain's (or any writers) work & changing it. Though I wish that word didn't exist & wasn't in this book, or any book for that matter. We have lived in city's with a high population of African Americans, Cajun's, and a large Hispanic population, & I wouldn't have it any other way. I would never want my kids in an all white school or Church if it could be helped. Variety is the spice of life! And my prayer is that, like Dr. King's dream, we can all live together. And learn to appreciate our differences. I've always loved traveling and learning about other cultures that are different from ours. And I hope I have instilled that in my kids as well. We have so much to learn from each other.

1 comment:

Pam said...

The n word is an ugly word and one that no one should use. Including black people - in my opinion. However, I have to agree with Whoopi Goldberg when it comes to Huck Finn. The n word should stay because it accurately reflects the historic time and we should not revise history to satisfy contemporary sensibilities. Besides, reading that book and the way the n word is used in it is a valuable teachable moment. One everyone should learn.