The Use of the “N-Word” at IRHS

Khelsey Curry, Contributor

In my freshman English class, we were having a discussion about the N word [as part of the Huckleberry Finn novel unit – Ed]. Many feel the term can still be hurtful and rude to blacks, but then in the hallways of Indian River High School you hear kids spitting this word out like it has no meaning or history behind it.

Tyler, one of my classmates, stated “[Hearing] the N word does make me uncomfortable. I think it’s rude and uncalled for.”

But, maybe it was because, as a white kid, he wasn’t ‘allowed’ to say it.  After a video in which a black reporter asked a black professor about the word, I was considering the theory that made it was okay for one black person to say it to another black person, but when it came to a white person saying it, that word changed–started having meaning to it again.

Two freshmen girls (African Americans) I talked to, who wish to remain anonymous, stated, “Yep no white person can say the N word unless they want to end up seriously hurt!’ But, why does it have to be that way? Why can’t we just not say the word altogether, is it that hard to control the words that come from our mouths?

From both class discussion, and my own life, I understand that this word decided what blacks went through historically. Racist stuff still goes on today and adults aren’t teaching their kids any better. Kids today think it’s okay to be rude to someone just because of the clothes they wear, if you are one of those parents then you better change your tactics fast because just think, that in the future, your child is going to  be one of many people that bring the United States of America to it’s knees once again.

Why do people have to treat us so different? It’s not like we have four legs growing out of our backs, we look just like you, but with just darker pigments. In the 1800s, the era of the novel, the N word was basically the only word whites in the south used to describe any person of color. It was taught to children, even, used as an insult to black people to label them as somehow inferior. Label black people inferior was “what made slavery possible” according to that professor.

One publisher in Alabama decided that the word is so toxic, they decided to take it out of the Mark Twain book “Huckleberry Finn” and replaced it with the word slave. Why? Twain used the word originally because he’s just describing what the characters in his book really would’ve talked like and acted like.

A freshman classmate of mine reminded me that “Sometimes people take things out of context and that’s what really can get people hurt, not the word itself. The word can not do any physical harm to you.” But I hope students really think before they say things like this.