Friday, May 19, 2006

What's in a name?

Nigger!

How many other words can evoke the kind of reactions that this word can? I'm a middle aged Caucasian male so the only way I can use the word is to couch it in code. "The N word." If I use the actual word it's called a racial epithet and I'm a Praia. People have lost their jobs from using this word, even in correct context. Now, if I was Africa American, I could use this word left and right. Then it becomes a "term of endearment." Others much more eloquent than I have espoused on this topic before so there's likely nothing I can add to it. But it's still something that has been weighing on my mind for quite a while and I'd like to get it out.

I believe that if the world wants this word to be seen as a racial epithet, it must be treated as one, no matter who uses it regardless of the situation. It can not be used by anyone as a term meaning anything but an racial epithet. African Americans, Caucasians, Hispanics, Asians... Everyone. Anyone at all who uses this word must be treated as one who expressed it as an epithet. There can be no double standard for this word.

Some might wander across this post and immediately classify me as a racist. Most of them would do so after reading only the first word of this post. There's little I can do about that. But hopefully someone with a little common sense will see this and realize the fundamental truth to it all.

A word is just a word. It is we who give them meaning. This word is so charged that we all must give it a single, standard meaning for every context and every usage. If we don't then we lose our ability to give words meaning. How will we be able to communicate then?

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