In his comments on my essay, The emotionally charged n-word [July 16], Jim Stuart from Glendora said this is not the time to let the n-word fade into oblivion. He said my essay made him think about the consequences of really taking away the impact of the n-word.
He wrote, “I am white and I think white people should be made to hear the word. It should give us shame. Similar to words like ‘Nazi.’
If the words go away completely, so does the shame.” I assume Mr. Stuart means a white person who says the n-word loses the respect of others and brings shame to the white race. My view is that the n-word does not compare with the word “Nazi,” and it does not shame white people.
Mr. Stuart claimed that the word “Nazi” has a similarity with the n-word. I disagree. The n-word has no common connection. Maybe his intent is to compare the n-word with a racial slur for a Jewish person. “Nigger” and “dirty Jew rat” are racial slurs that differ in their country of origin. But both are similar in false characterizations of people. For example, “all black Americans are lazy” is a false claim. Similarly, “all Jews are greedy” is a false claim.
Another way in which these two slurs are similar is in demeaning groups of people. Both black Americans and Jews are referred to as subhuman. All of these characterizations are incorrect.
Also, Mr. Stuart said black people should not ignore the n-word. I disagree. Black people ignoring the n-word will not stop white people from hearing it. Ignoring the n-word has nothing to do with its existence.
One event is not the cause of the other. First the n-word is created by white people, and then it is ignored. Not the other way around.
There is no cause and effect relationship here. In slavery times, black people lived with the n-word because they were in slavery. But today, a white person might feel embarrassed after it is revealed that he or she said the n-word. For example, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper and Southern chef Paula Deen were reported to have said the n-word. They apologized, but the news media reported the stories for weeks.
As a result, from the news media reporting the stories and the corporations punishing their employees, the impact of the n-word is not bringing shame to white people, it is stirring up controversy.
The discussion of the n-word makes lively interaction on TV, radio, and sensational articles in newspapers and magazines.
Even if the n-word can make white people feel ashamed, this is not a good reason for black people to carry the self-hate burden of the word.
We have a greater task, protesting for a decent education for our children, marching and praying to stop gangs and gang murders, speaking and debating for our young men to stay safe walking the streets of America. For instance, the Austin Weekly News’ Street Beat Column [July 23] asked the question, “Have you ever been called the n-word, and how did you respond?” Two of six persons (one third) answered the question yes, and they said they ignored the n-word.
I assume they considered the n-word insignificant. The n-word has nothing to do with the word “Nazi” and it has nothing to do with shaming white people.