The " N" word.
African Americans are right, and have the right, to despise it. It's like "kike" to a Jew or "spic" to an Hispanic.
Some claim that the intent of the utterer determines whether or not it's offensive. I don't buy it. The N word is demeaning and offensive under any circumstance. There's a problem, however.
Recently, I was walking by a community swimming pool. It was a hot summer day and people of various ages and races were happily singing along with a blaring boombox. The music being played was hip-hop and every third or fourth word was the N word, pronounced in full.
It's everywhere in that music genre. Just travel down the pop radio dial. Musical concerts, featuring highly successful artists and outrageous prices, serve as basins in which this word thrives. What gives? How are these diametrically opposed standards of expression reconciled? On the one hand, even saying "N-word" is almost as inflammatory as the full version, while in certain areas of modern entertainment, all races merrily sing along with uber-famous artists who shout out the full version.
A possible answer is the credo that the word belongs to African Americans and they, therefore, have the right to use it or not as they see fit. But doesn't this foster the notion of double standards? Is it O.K. to sing it but not to say it? Is there a difference between the word ending in "er" as opposed to "a"?
I suggest that African Americans, themselves, come together on this and clearly promulgate what's in and what's out----what's offensive and what isn't--and who, if anybody, can say or sing it.
If the boundaries of racial harmony are delineated, I, for one, would be happy to comply.
I am a huge fan of Richard Pryor. When he explained that the experience of his visit to Africa caused him to forswear the use of the word in any form, coming from him, whose every other word had been the "N" word, this was a powerful and meaningful statement which commanded obedience.
How about that principle of conduct, across the board?