Concept Analysis Essay

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Irma D. Felton
21 May 2011
ENG 105 English Composition
John Lowery

There is Power in Words
Racism is still alive in America. It is not as overt but its presence is still felt. I believe there is power in words. The Bible says there is death and life in the power of the tongue. Words can either be used to edify, uplift and encourage or they can be used to tear down, demoralize and debase. Which do you choose? In this essay I will attempt to analyze how African Americans have reclaimed a term that has been used for numerous years to negatively characterize their race and them as people. By changing the spelling of nigger to nigga and using it to express positive attributes such as brotherhood and inclusion it has aided them in affirming their identity. I live in a very small town in Louisiana where Bible thumping ministers still preach fire, brimstone, hell and damnation. This is a place that still holds memories, remnants and scars of an era where men draped in white sheets burned crosses in the yards of anyone of a different race or those who dared to disagree with their beliefs. This is a town where white cashiers will place the change from a black patron’s purchase on the counter so they would not have to touch their hand. There are still some establishments in this town where employees will wait on white customers first even though black customers were in the place first. In this little town you can hear the word nigger whispered behind the backs of African Americans. The World English Dictionary defines nigger as a derogatory name for a black person or a member of any dark skinned race. (Dictionary Reference) From the earliest usage it was the term that carries with it all the obloquy (abuse, humiliation, attack or shame) and contempt and rejection which whites have inflicted on blacks. {Cited in Gowers 1965} Growing up in the Deep South I have heard many words used to debase and lower the self esteem of black...
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