Only black people are allowed to say the N-Word

Laura Nunez

The ability to withhold from being racist, insensitive and plain ignorant should be self-explanatory, but unfortunately, racism is ever-prevalent in 2019. The n-word continues to be used by non-black people, which is unacceptable. The word’s usage has never been encouraged, but obviously a refresher course is necessary to remind society of this.

The meaning behind the n-word is very literal and impossible to confuse. Derived from Latin and Spanish words meaning “black,” the n-word began as an ethnic slur predominantly used by rich, white slave owners. An example of how unambiguously insulting the n-word was designed to be when directed at slaves can be found in the novel “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain.

The classic American novel was banned from various high school English curriculums in hopes of limiting the exposure of such negative language to youth. Although it is impossible to completely ban or eliminate such a divisive English word, the efforts have and continue to move in the right direction.

A recent scandal with a high profile celebrity, Gina Rodriguez, brought back awareness regarding the overtly casual usage of the n-word. Rodriguez posted a video on social media of her singing along to a popular song with the aforementioned word in the lyrics; she used it without hesitation.

The scandal brought questions about the sensitivity people have with the n-word and whether singing along to songs using the word should be deemed appropriate or not.

The answer is no, singing along to songs containing the n-word is not acceptable if one is not black.

Youth and college students today are in the prime age of listening to prominent rap and pop culture music. Students are known for walking around with AirPods, or more affordable ones with wires, stuffed deep in their eardrums. It is safe to assume people are not all listening to Kanye’s new gospel album. However, having easy access to hearing or reading the n-word is not an invitation for anyone to use it.

Being any person of color does not justify casually using the n-word. White people having a black friend does not allow usage of the n-word by association. Receiving “permission” or not told verbally to stop does not warrant the use of the blatantly disrespectful word. Common sense is not hard to acquire and maintain, hence the keyword “common.” Society needs to start thinking about their actions because such behavior is embarrassing.

Although ignorant individuals might say this reaction to saying the n-word is too sensitive, the reality is it creates an uncomfortable disturbance when used by a person who is not black. As Christopher Darden, the prosecutor in O.J. Simpson’s murder case, once said, “it is the filthiest, dirtiest, nastiest word in the English language.” It is more than a word; it is an attack.

At the University of Connecticut, two white students were arrested Oct. 21 after protests arose due to a video showing the men standing outside an apartment complex shouting the n-word. The two students were arrested for violating the student code of conduct and charged with ridicule on account of creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race.

The First Amendment allows freedom of speech, so by law, people can say whatever they want. They can scream insults and hold up signs with nasty slurs, but make no mistake, these actions are not okay. Acting like a racist expressivist might be protected by law, but it is never going to be morally acceptable, and the consequences will be unpleasant.

Out of respect for an entire race, avoiding the use of a vile, degrading word in any sort of context should come easy. White people will never look cool or have the same intentions when saying it. The racial majority does not have the same experiences as black people and never will. In fact, no other race will.

To be absolutely clear, hearing black people use the n-word does not make it okay for anyone and everyone to use it. The n-word was created in a derogatory manner with the goal of degrading the African-American race. Black people say the n-word because they can. The term comes from a place of shared, oppressive history. After decades of being belittled, black people deserve to claim the word as their own.

The black and African-American race is the only race allowed to use the n-word. Everyone else can say it in their head if they so intensely desire, but verbalizing it is not acceptable; it never was and never will be.

Laura Nunez is an advertising junior

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