• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

The word

If only it were this easy -- get rid of the word, get rid of everything associated with it:

DETROIT - There was no mourning at this funeral. Hundreds of onlookers cheered Monday afternoon as the NAACP put to rest a long-standing expression of racism by holding a public burial for the N-word during its annual convention.

Delegates from across the country marched from downtown Detroit's Cobo Center to Hart Plaza. Two Percheron horses pulled a pine box adorned with a bouquet of fake black roses and a black ribbon printed with a derivation of the word.

The coffin is to be placed at historically black Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery and will have a headstone.

"Today we're not just burying the N-word, we're taking it out of our spirit," said Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. "We gather burying all the things that go with the N-word. We have to bury the 'pimps' and the 'hos' that go with it."

He continued: "Die N-word, and we don't want to see you 'round here no more."

The N-word has been used as a slur against blacks for more than a century. It remains a symbol of racism, but also is used by blacks when referring to other blacks, especially in comedy routines and rap and hip-hop music.

We certainly use the word less often these days, even flinching in polite society at using it when talking about using it and cringing when it shows up even in a benign way in an old movie like "Brian's Song." Any day now, expect it to be referred to as the slur formerly known as the N-word. I suppose this is progress, but sometimes I wonder if the artists who have used it might not be right. Don't we defuse the power of something by overusing it, to the point where it just becomes meaningless sound? And there is something appealing about the slurred-against group trying to reclaim the word for itself, the way gays did with the Q-word and some of my people have tried with the H-word. Call somebody a queer today, and it just makes you sound silly.

But given the racial history of this country, maybe the N-word is just too ugly to be dealt with that way and can only be shunned. Perhaps we are far enough along that another word won't come along to replace it.

For what it's worth, I think the C-word is as ugly as the N-word. You can't hear it without thinking of what a twisted view the speaker has about half the human race.


Tue, 07/10/2007 - 8:05am

No, the C-word doesn't apply to half the human race. It applies to Ann Coulter and for that reason alone should remain hallowed. The other words we can indeed do without.