The N word is among the most controversial words in the American culture. In fact, in some settings it is categorized on a worse scale compared to other derogatory terms. The N word derives its roots from a distinct historical time, when slave trade was thriving in the American system. During this time, the American society was extremely racially divided, because of the inhuman malpractices that were being committed against the black slaves by their white masters. According to Asim (2007) “such coarseness was more appropriately left to the overseers and white men of the working class, whose task included the punishment and supervision of the idle wretches in the fields” (p.28). However, despite the changes that have taken place in the America on racial, social, economical, and political spheres of life, the word still maintains a strong social meaning that is selectively used by the Afro- Americans.
In as much as the N word is treated as a belittling term, its active use by African Americans undermines its very negative racial association. Surprisingly, it is not an uncommon scene to spot some black celebrities making use of the word in their music, television programs, radio, and pod casts. However, there are those who openly rebuke its use in open forums, instead they promote its use strictly within specific racial ranks. For example, sensational stand-up comedy artist, Chris Rock is known to openly rebuke the use of the word by the white man. Even in an interracial relationship such as courtship or marriage, the use of the N word is still preserved for the black African man or woman. In my view, the N word can strategically be used to increase positive association between the Blacks and the Whites in the American society. This is because the slave period ended and as a result, the act of continuing to selectively use the term has no importance. Moreover, the American society adopted new virtues, which have seen the society progress tremendously.
America is a society that prides itself for having made progress in almost all spheres of life. More specifically, in social terms the American society has transformed itself significantly, such that, there is less disintegration within its society compared to other foreign cultures. With this social transformation, the uses of the N word should not be a major problem. The image portrayed by its selective use is that one in the society feels guilty and blaming himself for the unfair experiences during the slave period that were essentially committed by the colonial masters. Thus, the N word needs to be given a new birth by redefining its social meaning to match with the current context. In fact, similar to “Google”, the N word should comfortably find its way in the English dictionary.
The changes that have taken in the American political scene show that the democratic space has improved for previously disadvantaged social groups. In the leadership cycle, the journey towards ending misuse of the N word has been a long one. One of the most instrumental American political leaders, who made significant progress in crashing the use of the N word, was Thomas Jefferson. According to Asim (2007), “crude terms such as, ‘nigger’, probably were not part of his vocabulary” (p.28). Despite his racial views, Jefferson attempted to unite the different racial sides by showing that none was superior to the other. At Jefferson’s magnificent house, the Monticello, the more elderly slavers were referred to as veteran aids (Asim, 2007). This was at a time, when there was prevalent use of the N word among the white folks who had black servants. This shows the manner in much effort has been made, but the word continues to thrive in our society.
The N word carries with it a harsh behavioral description, which can easily lead to stereotyping of African Americans. Black slaves had adopted a behavioral description of being ignorant, crafty, idle, brutal, treacherous, mistrustful, bloody, and superstitions (Asim, 2007). Thus, by continuing to use the word without giving proper consideration to context, it only results in actual abuse of the affected individuals. As a result, these negative images will continue being implanted into innocent members belonging to the African American race. Since the word enjoys wide acceptance, what needs to be done is to initiate a rebranding campaign that will see it get a positive association. This will give it a new lease of life by taking advantage of the current generation of young Americans who have little racial influence among themselves. By continuing to selectively use the word, the negative stereotype of the African American men will continue to thrive and a new generation of racially sensitive African Americans will continue to be born.
Finally, Americans need to start appreciating the history of their country, if they indeed share a deep patriotism similar to that of American forefathers who drafted the constitution. The aim of doing this was to effectively bridge the fundamental gaps that existed in social, economic, and political domains. Learning to embrace our history is the key to fostering a unified nation that is not keen on use certain words to refer to certain races. It makes little sense to every American toiling hard daily to ensure that they live a happy life. The N word deserves its place in the American society, not in a selective manner, but in an open way that will kill its negative racial definition.